March 13, 2003

Traditional authorities urged to recognize women

The National Council of Provinces chairperson Naledi Pandor has urged traditional leaders to recognize and treat rural women as equals in line with the country"s constitution. Ms Pandor made the remarks during a heated public-participation debate on the role of women and customary laws in pushing back the frontiers of poverty. The topic was tabled during the council's sitting in the North West capital, Mafikeng yesterday, March 12.

Ms Pandor‘s remark came after a women rights activist said customary laws were blocking women from playing a role in the traditional affairs. The activist pointed out that she was concerned that tribal elders as well as chiefs were not allowing their daughters to replace them or to be queens playing a leadership role in the tribes. Responding to the concern raised, Ms Pandor said if government was to work with traditional leaders they (leaders) would have to recognize women as equal beings and bring them on board as role players. "Gender discrimination cannot be part of traditional authority while the constitution recognizes gender equality in South Africa."

Earlier deputy chairperson of the joint monitoring committee on the quality and status of women in the NCOP Priscilla Themba said oppression of women across the colour line could no longer be tolerated. She encouraged women to unite in action through cooperatives and other means to fight poverty. (BuaNews / Pretoria)

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