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Declaration by the COSATU Limpopo Provincial Gender Conference held on the 16th - 18th August 2017
We the 97 delegates to the Limpopo Gender Conference representing more than 200 000 workers organized under COSATU in Limpopo and thousands of unorganized and unemployed workers across the Province together with delegates from SACP, ANCWL, PWMSA and SISONKE met during the Women's month of August. We rise from this conference under the Theme "Combat Workplace Discriminatory Gender Norms and Enhance Skills Development"
We note the inequalities which exist in the workplaces in all sectors where our trade unions are organized. According to Stats SA women in South Africa constitute 51 % of the population while, unskilled men constitute 59.3 % and women 40.7% of the total workforce yet women are still paid less than men is South Africa. The South African gender pay gap is estimated on average, to be between 15% to 17%. This implies that a South African woman would need to work two months more than a man to earn the equivalent salary that he would earn in a year. We further note status around disability that persons with disabilities are not well represented across all occupational levels.
It is only over the last three or four decades that women's role in the history of South Africa has, belatedly, been given some recognition. Previously, the history of women's political organization, their struggle for freedom from oppression, for community rights and, importantly, for gender equality, was largely ignored in history texts. Not only did most of these older books lean heavily towards white political development to the detriment of studies of the history and interaction of whites with other racial groups, but they also focused on the achievements of men (often on their military exploits or leadership ability) virtually leaving women out of South African history.
The reason for this 'invisibility' of women, calls for some explanation. South African society is conventionally patriarchal. In other words, it was the men who had authority in society; women were seen as subordinate to men. Women's role was primarily a domestic one; it included child rearing and seeing to the well-being, feeding and care of the family. They were not expected to concern themselves with matters outside the home, that was more properly the domain of men.
This Gender conference acknowledges and agree that once a decision is taken all members regardless of the position held during the meeting shall have the responsibility to implement and defend such a decision and that lower structures respect and abide by the decisions taken by upper structures. The Limpopo COSATU Gender Conference is fully behind the Campaign of Cde Cyril Ramaphosa to ascend and be the President of the ANC in defense of the principle that has been in existence for decades in our Liberation Movement. We are also in support of a women deputizing comrade Ramaphosa in December 2017 as a principle. We will therefore continue to swell the ranks of the African National Congress,
Women's' League in particular to advance our views in those structures.
a) We also note the cases about violence directed at women and children and condemn these inhuman acts and we support the Central Committee resolution calling on government to identify one day which will be declared a national campaign to deal with the current scourge of killings of women and children in the communities and that government should avail more resources to the court system so that prosecutions can be speeded up and carried out more efficiently.
This 2nd Provincial Gender Conference realize that COSATU is a fighting federation not by decree but through daily struggles that workers and women in particular lead on the ground. We have seen from firsthand experience victories of our own COSATU led struggles when we secured the following victories amongst others :
a) An amended Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) Act which is still to be signed into law that would benefit women workers in the area of maternity leave credits and fixed rate of 66% from 38%
b) When we successfully forced government and business into negotiations about a legislated National Minimum Wage
c) We victoriously fought and stopped compulsory preservation of workers retirement fund benefits declaring that there shall be nothing about us, without us.
We therefore declare that as Limpopo COSATU Gender Conference we will continue to implement the following:
- Resolutions taken in our 1st Gender Conference in 2015 and adopted by the 4th Limpopo Provincial Congress in August 2015.
- To enhance our campaigns and struggles on Gender Based Violence and cascade them to rural areas
- Locals to lead on Gender Based Violence campaigns given the fact that they are closer to the masses in the communities
- To strengthen the campaign on decriminalization of sex work
- To strengthen the campaign on LGBTI and raise awareness within our structures, workplaces and communities
- To capacitate all gender structures in the province
- To continue to organize women across all races
- To fight against repressive legislation which derails promotion of gender quality e.g. Traditional Courts Bill
- To advocate, educate and campaign in all our structures on the prevention and treatment of HIV and AIDS, and also link it to male circumcision campaign.
- To strengthen our campaigns on all types of Cancers
- To enhance our campaign on breastfeeding and childcare facilities in our structures and workplaces
We further resolve:-
- To enhance our relations with leaders who came from COSATU who are now in government
- That all structures of the federation and affiliates should avail resources and support to gender structures
- To reaffirm the NGC resolution that Gender Structures should be constitutionalized
- To advocate, train and campaign for the implementation of Sexual Harassment Policy in all our structures and workplaces.
- To urgently appoint Sexual Harassment Policy Committee in all structures of the Federation and provide training
- That COSATU should lead the Progressive Women's Movement of South Africa given the fact that we are a mass based organization
- To revive PWMSA in the province and participate in all levels and build a working class led movement.
All Affiliates and COSATU Gender Structures commit to work with the leadership at all levels to ensure that all these resolutions are integrated in the main programmes of structures and are practically executed on the ground.
Issued by COSATU Limpopo
For more information, kindly contact the Provincial Gender Chairperson, Cde Thando Ndaba- Makitla on 082 808 3167 or Provincial Secretary of COSATU, Cde Gerald Twala on 071 587 2872/076 522 8864