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#WomensDay: Women open up on discrimination, harassment in workplace

Difficult and sometimes dangerous working conditions facing women in the public sector are under the spotlight this Women's Day.

Kim Williams shares her story of being a female paramedic in difficult circumstances. Picture: Kayleen Morgan/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - Difficult and sometimes dangerous working conditions facing women in the public sector are under the spotlight this Women's Day.

Eyewitness News has spoken to some women who say they have been sexually harassed and told they will never be able to cope in a male dominated job.

This includes women in the emergency services and police.

Kim Williams has been a paramedic for 28 years, saving thousands of people's lives. Yet her own life has been on the line many times.

Williams tells how she was sexually harassed and almost raped by a man who begged her to save his dying friend's life while the Cape York Building in Joburg was on fire.

"He pushed me against the wall and he opened my belt. I still remember how his breath smelled.”

WATCH: It can't be a man's world without a woman

Lieutenant-Colonel Faith Walaza has been deployed to Sudan twice. She’s been criticised for “doing a man’s job” on several occasions.

Walaza once worked in KwaZulu-Natal while being pregnant and says she had to hide her baby bump not to be discriminated against.

Last month, the United Nations held a meeting with feminists, gender experts and UN officials to discuss a plan of action to curb sexual harassment.

During the talk, UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka said women fall by the wayside because the system is too difficult.

“Men become repeat offenders because they can. Now we’re seeing men who were previously untouchable being punished. And that needs to be the norm. You cannot harass hundreds of women over your career and then retire with a bonus and a golden watch and a party,” she is quoted as saying.

While some say it’s a “man’s world,” these women say they will not give up their fight for equal rights in the workplace.

(Edited by Shimoney Regter)

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