Lecture by the Executive Director of UN Woman, Dr Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, on the occasion of the 9th Thabo Mbeki Africa Day Lecture: Pretoria, University of South Africa: 25 May 2018.

“Gender Equality and Women Empowerment: A Necessary Paradigm Shift in Africa’s Quest for Development and Poverty Eradication”

It’s good to be home.

Thank you for this opportunity, President Mbeki; I would not have missed it for anything.

Thank you Prof Mandla Makhanya for always welcoming us in this manner.

I wish us all a happy and thoughtful Africa Day.

I must indicate that I am always intimidated when I have to speak in front of President Mbeki, something I suspect I have in common with a few people in the room but I was not, not going to come

I am excited to be here, and I do want to express my appreciation to the President [Mbeki] for important learning moments I took with me from the experience of working with him which includes lessons the way I interpreted them. Something like: Whenever you are in charge set the bar high and dare to dare. He never said it, but I think he said it. I also learnt from him that you must always support members of your team, especially if they get into trouble for doing the right thing. Because he did it to us. These are lessons that I cherish.

Looking back, I can summarize my experience in government as having been an opportunity to work for an institution I was proud of – our government; bosses I respected, both Madiba and President Mbeki; and doing a job that I loved, and it felt good to be an African. So I have to say, if you haven’t had the experience of working with an institution you respect, you are proud of, a boss you respect and doing a job that you love – sorry; I had that opportunity.

Africa Day 2018

Today is Africa Day. Today is also a special day for those people who believe in Africa. On this day, Africa Day 2018 we are discussing a subject Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment and how it intersects with our quest for development and poverty eradication and the paradigm that needs to be created for that to happen effectively. The topic correctly suggests that we reconsider the paradigm within which we conduct our work of advancing gender equality and development in order to eradicate poverty.

But allow me to first also pay a tribute to Mama Albertina Sisulu, as we celebrate her life that was lived with purpose for a purpose, in the face of tremendous adversities the purpose never changed. Her dignified leadership continues to inspire us, and her advocacy for the emancipation of women will never be forgotten. Malibongwe.

Allow me also to recognize some wonderful young Africans – people who inspire us.

I want to recognize in absentia a young sister of mine who is my boss, Amina Mohammed of Nigeria, who is the Deputy Secretary General of the UN.

I want to give a shout-out to Caster Semenya

I want to give a shout-out to Jaha Dukureh from The Gambia who is a survivor of child marriage as well as FGM; who is now an advocate for other girls – saving them and helping those who are still trying to get over the ordeal to heal. That is her version of MeToo and Jaha is a nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize.

I want to give a shout-out to my boy, Eddie Ndophu. Eddie is wheelchair bound with spinal muscular atrophy but Eddie has just graduated from Oxford University. He’s got a Masters; he needs 24-hour care and he’s determined to go to space. And he reminds us, and I remind you, that 10% of people in the world have a disability. It’s one of the biggest minorities that we have.

There are so many people like this in Africa. Whenever we have the opportunity to celebrate them, let us celebrate them.

There is also another young person I want to celebrate today. Her name is Natalia Wambui of Kenya. She is 10 years old and she’s already authored three books.

So, as we fight for gender equality, we must know that there are these people who inspire us.

Universality of Gender Inequality

The fight for gender equality and women’s empowerment is universal and important for men and women. It’s important for all women no matter where they live. It is important that when we think about changing the paradigm – this includes a universal approach to fighting for gender equality.

Across the world, gender inequality affects women including those who live in societies that are more gender equal, who could be also affluent. They are not insulated from domestic violence, from wage inequality, from being overlooked when a candidate for a head of state is being sought after. When it is time to ordain a bishop – she could have been singing her lungs out in the pews every day and all the time whenever she was there, but come time for leadership, she does not feature. So, it does not matter where you live and where you are as a women; the struggle is yours.

There is also no denying that the violation of rights of women hits harder on women who live in harsher conditions such as women who are gripped by poverty, or women who are in societies where crimes against women are tolerated or located in conflict affected areas or in areas where women and girls bear the brunt of the dehumanizing encounters with armed fighters.

Our call to women and men is to continue to fight in all countries because at this point there is no country that has achieved Gender Equality. This means therefore, all hands on-deck.

Violence against women is a problem in all countries. Impunity is entrenched.  A man can be a serial abuser even abusing famous people in Hollywood for decades and get away with it. In countries where rights are protected and there is equality before the law but, she will fear losing her income, risk of poverty and the stigma that comes with it and keeps quiet. That is why this struggle is universal.

Underrepresentation of women in decision making bodies from parliaments, to media houses, to Boards of Corporation is a global problem. Whether you are in Sweden, in DRC, in South Africa, in India, we are all still fighting to win on this front.

Over-representation of women amongst the ranks of the poor and in low-paying jobs is a is a problem in all countries. Wage inequality is a problem in all countries. From Iceland, which is a country that has the highest indicators for gender equality to Yemen. As we speak, the Prime Minister of Iceland who is HeForShe – part of a movement of men who stand for gender equality – has adopted the fight for equal pay as his fight because he accepts that there is a problem in his country.

Carrying most of the burden of unpaid care and taking care of children, the sick, and older relatives at the expense of remunerated activities is the terrain of in all countries. The ILO (International Labor Organization) calls this the Motherhood Penalty. Because in many cases in the fulness of a woman’s life, she would have lost 40% of her income because of motherhood-related activities. Because in the world, less than 30% of women live in countries where there is adequate and fully paid leave. In South Africa we must congratulate ourselves because we don’t look bad there.

But many women will allow themselves even to be overlooked when they feel that they have too much to do at home. Sacrifice promotion, not be allocated shares that come with certain levels of performance and therefore render themselves uncompetitive at the workplace, notwithstanding that they are competent.

In some countries when a woman has a child and she has to take time off, she loses part of her remuneration. That is why the ILO calls it the Motherhood Penalty. But when a man has a child, he gets additional income and that is called the Fatherhood Reward. Really?

And of course, whenever there is a battle about maintenance, it is not the men who are standing in line at the Maintenance Court, because the mom has run away with the bread. So you reward the man and you penalize the woman. What kind of world is this? The paradigm has to change.

Everywhere in the world also women are affected by discriminating stereotypes and norms – even in countries that have good laws. The good laws are not as effective as they can be because of the underlying stereotypes that the laws were supposed to fix.

We are a victim of that in South Africa. We have good laws, but we don’t fully benefit from the laws we have. Of course, implementation may also be an issue but the norms in our society are usually stronger than the legislation in our statutes.

But also, there are 150 countries in the world still that have a law or two, a bylaw that blatantly discriminate against women.

All over the world, not enough men have been mobilized to become gender activists, change-makers who can lead from within and dismantle patriarchy. If this was a class struggle, I would say we are asking men to commit a “class suicide”. But that would be effective if men are the ones leading the dismantling of patriarchy.

We also have not been able – and there I blame feminists of my generation because we did not pay enough attention to the mobilization of men as partners in the struggle for gender equality – to mobilize men to create a movement in which men feature strongly for gender equality, where they project positive masculinity and fight and defeat the dominant toxic masculinity which expects a man to beat up somebody and to look strong.

The initiatives that we have that are fighting gender inequality will never give us the results we want not unless the overarching ecosystem also changes. It is not about fixing the women; fix the system, change the paradigm.

Africa and Gender Equality

Today we celebrate Africa Day. The scorecard for Africa and Gender Equality is mixed, just like you would find in other parts of the world. Because the challenges are considerable but what is encouraging is that the determination to win is also considerable. There is no way we can give up.

Women and men are increasingly mobilizing in order to make sure that they will rise up to the needs of this continent.

The AU has been a positive force for Gender Equality. Even when it has not been able to act on the commitments, it has used its stature and convening power to support initiatives that come with young people, with governments, ourselves as United Nations and different institutions. It has also been able to mobilize governments to work together, in particular to pass and adopt legislation that advances gender equality.

African women are also taking steps towards building their own movement and strengthening the movements and organizations they have. In part to ensure that the fight for development and the fight against poverty is also about changing power relations because we are not fighting for development and power that will make us sub-servient.

We have seen a decline of women’s organizations and movements and shrinking democratic space around the world which constrains women’s organizations.  Currently only 3% of the world population live in countries where there is full and unhindered space for people to organize and full freedom of association according to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Last month we convened in Addis Ababa to inaugurate the African Women Leaders Network – a network that we intend to roll out in 54 African countries. We now have focal points in 34 countries and we hope to create chapters in every country that will be in touch with the issues and the dynamics of that country but also be linked in a coordinated way with issues that affect all of us as a continent.

The African Women Leaders Network also encourages women to run for office and we will actively protect women who are considering running for office, who are in office, from some of the violence that is increasingly being reported that women experience when they are in office. The intimidation that will make a woman resign and someone else takes over her constituency. Because it is a sad day when women will not think of going into politics because they will be violated. This is the broader paradigm in society that cannot exist.

We are also as the African Women Leaders Network focused on Women, Peace and Security, ensuring that women are actively involved in preventing conflict, as mediators and peace activists, in protecting peace in their countries, in participating in peace talks and making sure that at the peace table they are able to present the issues that are important to people. It is important for the belligerents to make peace at a peace table. Women feel strong that it is important that communities reconcile when there has been a war.

It is important that infrastructure is rebuilt – the well is refilled with water, the schools are rebuilt, the widows are not discriminated against, that inheritance and custody issues are discussed so that when the war is over the woman does not leave and walk alone because that battle still continues with her because of some of the rights that she has lost as a result of the dynamics of a war.

The AU also has entrenched gender equality in its institutions, fighting to ensure that we reach parity within the institution. This is expected to also be emulated by member states.

But today, I will keep on coming to the challenge of forced and early marriage, to illustrate one of the things that need all of us in this generation to say, “hell no”. This is not something that the next generation must experience. We need to fight and win this and other battles within this generation.

I am also picking on this because it affects the innocent little girl – the best thing that we have. When we talk about the demographic dividend in Africa, it is that girl that we give up on when she is twelve and her life is over, because at that time, she signs a contract with poverty. It is within us, in our different formations to unite in order to make sure that we change this trajectory.

Sub-Saharan Africa has also contributed to the promotion of women’s leadership and provided best practice for other countries and for other regions.

Fifteen countries in Sub-Saharan Africa have demonstrated that female representation in national parliament can make the needle move faster and far; South Africa is one of those countries.

Economic Growth is needed for GEWE

UN Women Report, Turning Promises into Action: Gender Equality in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

Based on a joint report that UN Women did last year in 2017 – a study that we did in 99 countries – we found that globally women between the ages of 24 and 35, which are the peak years for earning and for reproductive activities, are the poorest in the world in developed and developing countries.

Women of this age group are likely to poorer than their male counterparts. Clearly the responsibility for reconciling paid work and family responsibilities falls disproportionately on women’s shoulders—with huge consequences for their incomes, rights and livelihoods. That is where women also surrender to abuse because there is no “Plan B”.

The widening gender gap after the age of 24 also coincides with a time when women actually need resources to take care of their life and that of their children. What was disturbing in this study was to see that for Sub-Saharan Africa, this starts very early because our children are being married off so early.

In some regions, where they are able to start a bit late and a bit mature, they actually can assert themselves and get out quickly. When they start early, chances are that they have not been at school for a long time; so that also works against them. And in many countries, there is no second-chance education, so this is it for many women.

We did this study because we wanted to target the most vulnerable age group of women in society and parts of the world. When we look at the countries in Africa where poverty of women and child marriage was worse, the situation was more complex in countries experiencing conflict.

South Africa also exhibited the same pattern. What was also interesting about South Africa was that we created a model to look at how we could turn this around using the regulatory framework of South Africa. Just by providing universal access to childcare in South Africa, we would turn the situation around dramatically; create more than 2 million jobs, enhance school readiness for the children, and give back women the choice to go to the labor market. So, this is one of those choices that hopefully will be easy to make.

Invest in accelerated, scaled up change to eradicate poverty

So gender inequality in the labour market alone costs Sub-Saharan Africa about USD 95 billion annually between 2010 and 2014, peaking at USD 105 billion in 2014, according to the UNDP Human Development Index Report.

These results confirm that Africa is missing its full growth potential because a sizeable portion of its growth reserve ‘women’ is not fully utilized or supported economically to be productive. This contributes towards women being disproportionally represented amongst the poor.

We have joined hands with the IMF to look at how we can convince ministers of finance to be the ones that are leading the change of this paradigm because you present them with the money then they understand the cost of discrimination in our countries.

We are 1.2 billion Africans; 600 million women; 200 million are between the ages of 15 and 24; and 10 percent of the population is disabled.

Young people are a critical population to invest in for change. This must include protecting Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights of women and girls. Enabling choices about reproductive rights and access to family planning services for every woman and girl in Africa could be one of the key contributors to eradicate poverty and promote Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment in; it is also fundamental to an inclusive economy. Girls in Africa must be saved from another generation of children with children which contributes to the stubbornly high level of maternal deaths in Africa.

Across Africa, 125 million girls and women alive today were married before their 18th birthday. 1 in 9 is married under age 15.  Fifteen of the 20 countries with the highest rates of child marriage are in Africa. In sub-Saharan Africa, 39 percent of girls are married before age 18.  For these girls, child marriage means high exposure to ill health, gender-based violence and poor prospects for income security. This is a key area that needs our focus; we cannot succeed on the eradication of poverty without cracking and reversing this trend. For the countries who have experienced growth they have a chance to make big changes and ensure inclusive growth.

Gender Responsive and context-specific budgets can go a long way towards making sure that all these categories of people are as productive as we need to be.

There is also evidence that indicates that our inability to invest in women’s enterprises, in this case, farmers, costs us a lot in food security. Evidence indicates that if women farmers had the same access to resources as men, they would increase production on their farms by 20-30% raising total agricultural output in their countries by 2.5 – 4%. This would reduce the number of hungry people in the world by around 12-17%.

Almost 60% of employed women in Sub-Saharan Africa work in the informal sector so again that denies them the opportunity to have sustainable earnings. And because in most of our countries we don’t have social protection policies, that address the specific needs of these women and men, many of them are destined to be poor. We have engaged with governments in different parts of the continent about changing social protection policies so that they can be extended to this constituency. It is of course also difficult to some extent because many governments in Africa do not collect that much tax, so the reserves are not in abundance. However, gender responsive budgeting that has been used in Latin America has been able to help the fiscus even address this constituency.

We have also made sure that we engage governments about infrastructure that is needed by people in the informal sector because over-zealous police tend to harass people in the informal sector, take away their goods – which are their assets. If you take away a box of oranges, it is income for two days or sometimes a week that this gone. For someone who is already down in terms of levels of poverty. As one of them told me, when you reach people in trouble for a traffic offence, you get a fine and go and pay – no one takes your car, they take my oranges. So, the poorest of the poor gets the most severe punishment. The paradigm has to change.

These women sit in the markets, many of you would have seen them in Nigeria, in East Africa. They sleep there, they educate their children who become judges and professors and presidents. They deserve a buffer and a protection. They actually are the ones who are the shock absorbers for the state against poverty, in the same way that girls are the shock absorbers for the state when we fail to deliver infrastructure.

A girl with her wobbly little feet has to go to the river to get water to quench the thirst of a muscular man sitting at home. And sometimes she is raped, bitten by a snake. It is because the council has misused the money for infrastructure so there is no water in the home, and a five-year old has to pay the price.

We must make sure that we are actually removing the systemic barriers that must not recur in the next generation.

African growth and development

The positive news is that global economic outlook, according to the IMF, shows that the world is currently growing at 3,8%. That is equal to the growth rate levels experienced before the financial crisis.

Ghana, Ethiopia, Cote d Ivoire, Djibouti, Cambodia, Bhutan, Senegal, Tanzania, Philippines, India are the ten fastest growing economies in the world. Six are from Africa.

This demonstrates the resilience of our countries. Remember not less than 30 years ago, Ethiopia was the postcard of poverty and malnutrition. So, we [Africa] know how to do things and we can make these changes but we have to make sure that we are also addressing the situation of women and girls because to do so well in these countries and then marry a girl a twelve is counter-productive. Thankfully, we’ve engaged with these governments intensely and they’re fighting. And thanks to the AU as well for supporting their fight to end child marriage.

Radical Economic Transformation in South Africa

In the case of South Africa, over 17 million South Africans receive social grants this is more people than the 15 million who are employed – that has to concern us.

A survey of the impact of social grants indicates that female-headed households that receive grants are three times more productive than male headed households. 82% of women grant recipients said the grant made their lives better; 79% said they could now take better care of their children. Nearly all children of the women surveyed were enrolled in school with over 70% regularly attending.

This is a good story that this investment that we’re making is actually making a difference, even though in the broader and bigger picture we have to address the issue of this ‘transformation’ that must change things in such a way that the state does not have to look after so many people. That is why inequality in South Africa is something that we all have to unite and do something about.

The fact that is our country the top 1% of South Africans own 70.9% of South Africa’s wealth; the fact that the bottom 60% owns 7% of South Africa’s wealth means that something radical, something more has to happen. This is not sustainable.

The Sustainable Development Goals, Agenda 2063 and our NDP reflect what we need to change. We need to work together so that we implement them in a manner that is in the best interest of the country.

The fact that land ownership pattern is the way it is, is a concern and we should not make it worse, we have to find a solution for it. But what would be radical about this is if as a result of this radical transformation, women’s poverty was wiped off – that should be the terms of reference. So, women need to put forward the terms of reference – ‘what does success look like?’ Because what would be radical is really if the women who are at the bottom of the pyramid suddenly became people who appeared everywhere in the strata of society in healthy doses. So, the path that we take therefore must lead us to that.

Free Trade Area

The fact that on 21 March 2018 in Kigali, 44 African Union Member States signed the Agreement Establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area is something to celebrate.

In 2013 Intra South East Asian trade was already at 24.2% while Intra African was at 18% in 2015 and remains well below its potential.

The Free Trade Area is crucial because it takes us towards addressing the fragmented economic African market which is detrimental to Africa’s economic growth path and to women’s true economic empowerment.

Overarching infrastructure, overarching economic policies need to be in place for women’s economic empowerment so that when we do the ‘small’ things the overarching policy framework is working in our favour.

Africa with its Africa, with its 1.2 billion people and 54 countries, is divided by at least 100 borders, that are a factor in the exchange of goods and services and movement of people. It is paperwork, it is tariffs and much more constrains. By the time you finish trading, you have paid so much just for moving around.

India, has 1.3 billion people, a unified market with no borders to cross, and therefore provides a much better enabling environment for the transfer and movement of goods and services. Our [Africa’s] competitiveness is therefore compromised in the manner in which we are. The Free Trade Area is not a magic wand; we have to work in order to make sure that it is successful.

Women who trade women who trade across borders, account for nearly 70 per cent of informal cross-border traders in Africa. They are particularly vulnerable to harassment, violence, confiscation of goods and even imprisonment. But when we implement we must make sure that these things will go away because it is not automatic that they will go away if we do not pay attention.

South- South cooperation can also be strengthened as a result of this agreement.

Ending violence against women

I want to finish by highlighting two things. Firstly, the issue of violence against women in the world and in our country. It is the most dehumanizing form of discrimination against women. It is deadly, it occurs in every country, in every class, in every race.

We have reached a point as far as this issue is concerned, where we actually need to come together for what I sometimes call a ‘Truth and Action Indaba’.

Women who suffer violence, in the majority do not report. They are the walking wounded. We estimate that at least a billion women in the world live with violence of one sort or the other. We know this because WHO (World Health Organization), our partner when we gather data for this work participates actively. We gather the data from orthopaedic surgeons, from mental health institutions, from eye specialists, from E&T, from the morgues because this is the result of violence against women.

The prevalence is so high, the impunity is so entrenched that when a handful of men in Hollywood get arrested people say men are being attacked. More than a billion women living with violence, and when a handful of men are brought to book there is an uproar. Of course, we want due process, we don’t want in any way to trivialize the issue so that these men are accused wrongly but the prevalence and the impact this has on society is such that time is up.

According to a 2017 report by the World Bank and the International Center for Research on Women, ending child marriage and early child bearing by 2030 would not only lower population growth but could generate $500 billion annually.

Niger, which has the highest prevalence of child marriage in the world could reduce its population by 5% if child marriage and child births ended. Uganda’s benefit could reach $2.4 billion if early fertility was eliminated.

Ending child marriage would increase labour earnings and productivity for women and for African countries. Currently, Nigeria loses $7.6 billion annually due to child marriage.

Africa however has a long way to go towards to rid the continent of all discriminatory laws that support child marriage. 30 countries now have legislation that bans child marriage but there are still 28 countries where child marriage is legal.

Something significant has to be done. We need to come together and think about how we are going to change this because as policymakers, can you imagine if every woman who has a reason to report did report and there was justice? Countries would fall because of the prevalence, and where it happens. And because it is usually people who have power who use this power over other people and therefore if justice was carried out, it would mean that many of the people who have power would have to pay the price and there would be consequences.

I’m not asking for a truth and reconciliation between perpetrators and the abused. I am asking for something to happen such that we begin to address this issue and find a way of turning around the way society is and how this has been normalized. We need a men’s gender equality movement to join the fight we cannot allow society and the next generation to experience this.

Security Council Bid

South Africa is bidding for a seat on the United Nations Security Council there will be a vote on the 6th of June.

I think we will win but we will be going there in the most divided and challenging situation ever.

I remember when we were there the last two times, we were able to make an impact. We were strong, we were respected in the world, we could punch above our weight, and the environment was enabling. I hope that we will support our government in this very important task.

My wish is that we carry Africa’s Agenda but also that we use the opportunity to address the value system that underpins the multi-lateral system that is now being questioned and is in a crisis.

I also hope that we will be able to use this opportunity to address some of the emerging issues in the peace and security arena for instance the engagement with non-state armed forces who now dominate the wars that are protracted and are fought out there. And in those wars, there is no Rome Statute to go to. If you are confronted with a situation, the victim of abuse of these extremists, you are on your own. But the world has to do something about this.

New tools and approaches will be required to deal with these actors. We face unprecedented political and operational challenges in this regard, including a clearer mandate basis in the Security Council to engage these actors.

We have sexual violence used as a tactic of terrorism; we have acute vulnerability of refugees; IDPs (internally displaced persons); we have returning armed ex-fighters whose crimes we do not quite know about because we do not know what happened where they were but they could also pose a risk to their own countries but cannot be kept away from their own countries and cannot be arrested for an unknown crime.

A critical new dimension of the agenda over the past two years is sexual violence used as a tactic of terrorism, employed by extremist groups in places like Iraq, Syria, Somalia, Nigeria and Mali to advance core strategic objectives. This includes sexual violence as part of the political-economy of terrorism, where the sale, trade and trafficking of women and children augments significantly the personal economies of fighters; and the promise of sexual access, sex slaves or wives as an incentive in recruitment of young men. We also need to be concerned about sexual violence against men and boys – which is resurfacing significantly. We must continue to ensure that the protection and empowerment of women is moved from the periphery of global discourse and strategies on counter-terrorism and countering violent extremism, to the centre; the role of the Security Council will be crucial in this regard.

Another dimension emerging more clearly is the plight of children born of wartime rape. These children may number in the thousands after protracted conflicts such as in Bosnia, Colombia, Syria, Iraq, the Horn of Africa, the DRC and in West Africa. Their marginalization and uncertainty regarding their legal status is a major consideration for peace and security around the world.

In 2000 the Security Council finally accepted the changing nature of war where women and children were targeted women, rape was used as a weapon of war, and women were excluded from peace processes. The passing of Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security was a landmark victory for gender equality. There is however a long way to go towards the full implementation of this Resolution which includes the following:

  • Women are engaged to prevent conflict
  • Women participate in protecting peace
  • Women are part of peace talks and decisions about their countries
  • Women are heard, and their issues are tabled and acted on especially the extraordinary violence women and girls experience

Effective and full implementation of the Resolution needs to be strengthened to ensure much needed effectiveness and impact of the resolution. It is one of the Resolutions of the Security Council that enjoys support but not adequate investments and full implementation.

This resolution is also special to us in Southern Africa because Namibia was a pan holder in the Security Council when it was adopted. Poor implementation of the resolution deepens fragility of communities and poverty. South Africa in the Security Council can play a role in ensuring the Resolution is effective and far-reaching.

The Security Council has also adopted another landmark Resolution 1820 regarding sexual violence in conflict which has also been important to expose perpetration of violent sexual crime against women of epic proportions.

There is a need to re-frame our approach on stigma which is often seen as a longer term socio-cultural challenge. An acknowledgement in the Security Council that “stigma also kills”, is a way to begin defining a more operationally oriented protection response to the threat of violence.

This is the Security Council we are getting into; we must stand for this value system; we must fight for these people who are victims, underdogs, survivors. Because as South Africa we are better than that.

Conclusion

Africa has come a long way and we still have a long way to go. The hardships faced by women and girls are real. Failure to address these challenges will not only affect our development prospects but will erode the hard-won gains we have achieved as a continent. We can change the paradigm and we can be the generation to bring about the far-reaching changes that are urgently needed. We can be the generation to end poverty and gender inequality.

Thank you.  

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