Women have played a pivotal role in South Africa’s response to the Coronavirus pandemic, said President Cyril Ramaphosa.
“We salute the resilience and bravery of women frontline workers who worked to fight the pandemic as nurses, doctors, emergency personnel, police and soldiers,” Ramaphosa said on March 8.
Celebrating International Women’s Day, President Ramaphosa thanked all the women leading civil society organisations who worked and continue to work with the Ministerial Advisory Committee in driving a holistic approach to managing the pandemic.
The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is: ” Women’s leadership and achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world”.
President Ramaphosa said there can be no meaningful progress for women if society continues to relegate women to ‘traditional’ professions, occupations or roles, while it is mainly men who sit on decision-making structures.
“We salute women like Nandi Msezane, who helped raise funds for food support in affected communities, and helped to provide access to mental health support for the LGBTQI+ [ lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex] community during the lockdown.
“The dedication of the nation’s educators has ensured that our young people were able to receive an education despite the disruption caused by the pandemic. We owe a debt of gratitude to the many women who have worked as teachers, principals, lecturers and as administrators at institutions of higher learning.
“Women doctors, researchers and scientists have played and continue to play an important role in our epidemiological response,” he said.
The President said women and children affected by violence during the lockdown were helped, thanks to the efforts of numerous non-governmental organisations (NGOs) led by and staffed by women.
President Ramaphosa said research performed by academics on economic vulnerability and poverty trends in South Africa helped drive an informed relief response.
“Last year we lost one of the country’s foremost experts on rural poverty, Dr Vuyo Mahlati. At the time she was studying the impact of the pandemic on food security in vulnerable communities, especially small scale farmers,” the President said.
President Ramaphosa also recognized the role of women in government whose efforts often go unacknowledged.
“It is women who lead the many government departments at the forefront of the national relief response,” and added that “Our experience of this pandemic has once more demonstrated women’s capacity to organise, collaborate, lead and achieve. Through their actions, they have demonstrated there is no such thing as ‘a woman’s place” said Ramaphosa.