Minister of Women in the Presidency Bathabile Dlamini hosted a young women's dialogue on Tuesday. The theme of the event was entrepreneurship.
I understand why such an event is deemed necessary, particularly in light of the challenges South African women face on a daily basis. It would be interesting to see what kind of resolutions were drawn from this gathering of the country's youth.
Some of the issues that are said to have been addressed include unemployment, internships and President Cyril Ramaphosa's YES initiative, which is intended to create more opportunities for the youth and an equal playing field for those who come from disadvantaged backgrounds to play an active role in South Africa's economy.
The dialogue had many speakers partaking, with some highlighting the crisis of gender-based violence — in the society in which we live, it is not safe for women and children to walk the streets alone at night.
Dlamini also chairs the ANC Women's League, a position she has held for three years now — but one in which she has not shown much leadership. Just last year, six horsemen represented the ANCWL delegation at the ANC's policy conference — so much for women's empowerment. For President Ramaphosa to reshuffle Dlamini from social development into her current portfolio, when women have been feeling short-changed by the ANCWL leadership on women's issues, is vexing.
So, here we are in 2018, still engaging in dialogues around the issues women face, when we don't actually have the luxury of discussion — we should have programmes and systems in place by now that ensure the law is on the side of women and children, and that it guarantees the protection of their rights.
Last year, when visiting Karabo Mokoena's family as part of the public performance showcasing the ANCWL as a force rooting for South African women, Dlamini said: "Women understand the issues of violence against women and at all times, we talk to women. Men are not there. They must stand up. I thought I would find a lot of men here. They are not here; they are nowhere to be found. We can't keep on talking about one and the same thing. We can't keep on being pushed to listen to people who do not have respect for women."
And yet the ANCWL is the very body that shows a blatant disregard for women and has no respect for them. This is the same organisation that places the protection of women on the back burner until they are either called out on this publicly, or there is a gender-based violence case they want to jump on — thus using women's bodies as a means of scoring political points.
One such case was when Dlamini came to the defence of Mduduzi Manana following his assault of three women, saying that the outrage against him was an attack on his person that was being used as a political tool.
Sadly, Dlamini isn't the only one — there are many patriarchal princesses like her who work tirelessly alongside the patriarchy to maintain the skewed status quo that sees women at the bitter receiving end of inequality and violence.
It is a great move that the ministry of women wants to take an active role in discussing the issues young women face today. But there's a need for resolutions from such events — ones that give clear mandates, so that we can hold such offices to account should they fail to deliver.
Transformation within the ANC is nothing more than a talking point, and this has become a ripple effect permeating all the organs stemming from the mother body.
Hijacking Youth Month as a public performance to showcase that government cares about women, when we have receipts of the many times they have let us down, is embarrassing.
Dlamini doesn't even have a tall order to fill in her position as Minister of Women in the Presidency — her predecessor, Susan Shabangu, proved countless times that South African women were not led under her aegis.
Minister Dlamini needs to do better. She must do better.