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South Africa: Women Called to Unite

Johannesburg — Minister in the Presidency for Women, Susan Shabangu, has encouraged women to work together to transform society as patriarchy is still a challenge in South Africa.

"We all have a role to play in contributing. That can only happen when the young and old work together. There's experiences to be shared, there's holding hands and there is a need for unity of women in advancing the interest of the women in the transformation of society," Minister Shabangu.

Speaking on Monday in Johannesburg during an intergenerational dialogue, she said women still faced many challenges which include access to sanitary pads, rape and sexual harassment.

"As women we need to... .work together in making sure the future generations have a different environment," Minister Shabangu said.

She emphasised the need for parents to raise boys and girls to be both confident as this will contribute towards an equal society.

Women Development Bank CEO Totsie Memela called on women who are in leadership positions to uplift other women, saying this can be done by mentoring and coaching.

"The responsibility that we each have, particularly those who can influence, is to lift as you rise and you can lift by saying I am here and I cannot continue to be alone.

"Statistically it has been proven that if you are alone, you actually don't have a voice. When there is two, you begin to have a bit of influence but once you have more than three women on the board that's where you can really make sure that you can chart the path to make sure that other women within that organisation where you serve... can feel your impact," Memela said.

She said women need to stop with the pull her down syndrome because it's only when women are working together that they can make an impact.

"The key is to know that we are different, that we all bring to the table a different energy, we bring different skills and it's okay.

"It always very cold at the top, particularly for women and it's our responsibility as the older generation to make sure that we reach out to you to support and strengthen you... as leaders," Memela said.

Department of Women Director-General Jenny Schreiner said if women and men are to be equal, society cannot hold onto cultural values that breed inequality.

"It is for us to say, what is the culture that will enable us to build the South Africa of the constitution? We have a wonderful constitution that is non-sexist, non-racial, it wants a prosperous society for all of us with no inequality.

"We need to engage on how to change culture," Schreiner said.