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International Women's Day celebrations highlight gender parity, remaining challenges

The day has been used to raise awareness on gender equality.

This morning UN Women rang the bell for Gender Equality at the Johannesburg Stock Exchange. Picture: Twitter
International Womens Day
Local World

JOHANNESBURG – Various local departments and global organisations have commemorated International Women’s Day by celebrating the progress made in attaining women’s rights and encouraging debate around existing challenges that remain for women across the globe.

Starting at home, the Department of Justice and Correctional Services has called on the justice sector to advance the empowerment of women by showing its support in the “Pledge for Parity”. 

Spokesperson Mthunzi Mhaga says the international campaign should serve as a basis for the individual empowerment of women in various sectors of the justice system and help ensure a fair representation across the board.  

“Over the past 20 years, since the signing into law of Constitution, the Department has steadily turned the tide in the transformation of the various sectors of the justice system to ensure the representation of women. Many more women have been appointed to serve in the judicial benches.”

Indicating its forward movement, the department says in 2015, Minister Michael Masutha appointed 154 magistrates to fill vacancies countrywide of which 90 were female. 

In total, there are 1 722 magistrates, of which 61 percent (507) are black women.  

Listen: Commission for Gender Equality gives context into International Women’s Day

While these are all noteworthy milestones, Doctors Without Borders (MSF) has raised serious concern about survivors of sexual violence who have been reluctant to seek medical attention, out of fear of dealing with the police and what the organisation says are ‘unresponsive or inhumane legal systems’ in some African countries. 

The organisation runs projects that provide treatment and support to victims in countries like Democratic Republic of Congo, Papua New Guinea, Zimbabwe and Kenya.

Reiterating statistics from the World Health Organisation which say nearly one in three women worldwide has experienced some form of sexual violence, the MSF says this may be an underestimation of the real situation on the ground.

Meanwhile, UN Women has placed its focus on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in commemoration of International Women’s day.

The entity has hosted discussions and celebrations in 40 countries under the slogan “Stepping It Up for Gender Equality” and the hashtag Planet5050.



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