23rd IFP WOMEN’S BRIGADE ANNUAL GENERAL CONFERENCE
ULUNDI, OCTOBER 13-15, 2000
Delegates attending the annual conference of the IFP Women’s Brigade held in Ulundi from October 13-15, 2000 unanimously passed the following resolutions:
It was agreed that it is common cause throughout Africa that the ultimate aim of all development policies and programmes is the eradication of extreme poverty and the access of all poor people to their human rights.
It was further agreed that in order for this to be achieved, special attention must be given to the nature and causes of women’s poverty as women in Africa continue to bear the overwhelming burden of poverty and deprivation.
Conference therefore urges that all National, Provincial and Local Governments prioritise strategies to eradicate gender imbalances inherent throughout South African society and in particular:
- complete analyses and study existing data available on how poverty affects men and women differently and identify men and women’s differing developmental needs;
- ensure education programmes are directed towards increasing the literacy of girls and women as this in turn will inform them of their rights and how to defend them and assist them in making their own personal, social and economic decisions;
- focus efforts to ensure that existing legislation and community-based efforts dealing with gender-based violence and discrimination are fully supported. In particular, the South African Police Service and Magistrate’s Courts must be adequately resourced to ensure that the Domestic Violence Act and the Maintenance Act can be implemented as intended;
- recognise that male criminal violence against women and girls has become endemic throughout South Africa and that statistics reveal that rape and assault are having a devastating effect on the lives of huge numbers of women and girls. Special multi-faceted efforts directed at men must therefore be devised to stop this physical, emotional and spiritual carnage.
In acknowledging the constant encouragement given to the Women’s Brigade by the President of the Inkatha Freedom Party, Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi, and sincerely thanking him for his many years of proven support and dedication to the cause of the liberation of women from poverty, ignorance and ill-health, we therefore:
- pledge to revitalise the Women’s Brigade and report back at the next annual conference that IFP policies will have been converted into constructive community programmes aimed at assisting the poorest of the poor;
- acknowledge that the issue of human and economic development can ultimately only be successfully implemented at grassroots level and that our members must be prepared to link themselves and their communities to existing governmental and other NGO programmes as well as being innovative in devising schemes that promote self-help and self-reliance;
- aim to be more pro-active in inserting IFP thinking into national and provincial policy-making and delivery processes;
- will identify and train women from all walks of life who will be capable of representing the Party on political platforms and who will be sensitive and informed as to the developmental needs of women and children;
- recognise that a spirit of camaraderie is essential in working together to ensure that our Party is positively and effectively promoted throughout our land;
- offer our unqualified support to the new leadership of the Women’s Brigade.
This year the IFP Women’s Brigade once more highlighted the terrible curse of the devil’s disease HIV/AIDS which is so cruelly afflicting our communities. We acknowledge that both personal and Government responsibility and commitment is required if we are, as a nation, to begin to contain and hopefully eradicate the consequences of this pandemic on all the people of our land.
We urge our fellow citizens and the leadership of our land to practice and promote the kind of behaviour which will protect them from the infectious and insidiously complex outreach of this deadly virus while at the same time showing care and compassion for those already afflicted. This would include:
- realising that high moral and spiritual values are critical to positive human survival and development and that this crisis beckons us to reevaluate our individual and collective daily conduct in all facets of our lives;
- acknowledging that so-called “safe sex”, which implies the use of condoms when necessary and abstaining from promiscuous and dangerously inappropriate sexual contact, must be recognised as the only way in which the vast majority of contact with the disease can be averted;
- breaking the silence surrounding HIV/AIDS and talking openly about the pandemic within our families and communities while also actively promoting educational campaigns aimed at disseminating the truth about this national crisis;
- ensuring that terrible myths about so-called “cures” for HIV/AIDS, such as having sex with a virgin, are stamped out;
- reaching out to infected men, women and children and to those whose health is failing to assure them of our genuine desire to empathise with their plight and to assist them however best we can;
- accepting that families and communities will bear the final burden of caring for the sick and surviving orphans and that there is a critical need for support structures to be developed in all our communities to strengthen and comfort all those in need.
The IFP Women’s Brigade acknowledges the overwhelming support given by its members to the ongoing struggle by traditional leaders to protect the poorest of the poor in our land.
We recognise that development can only take place when decision-making is rooted in the knowledge of the circumstances of where people are located and with an understanding of their history, beliefs, aims, aspirations and deep-seated desires.
We state quite categorically that policies and programmes of whatever nature imposed on our traditional communities will not be able to be successfully implemented without traditional leaders playing a leading role.
It is for this reason that we urge an early and enlightened outcome to the discussions being held between Government and the country’s traditional leadership on all the issues involving future local government and warn that any attempts, under whatever pretexts, to distance people from their traditional leaders are ultimately doomed to failure.
We therefore congratulate in particular the Chairman of the House of Traditional Leaders, KwaZulu Natal, Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi, and all other traditional leaders throughout South Africa for the principled stand they have taken on this matter.
Conference, in recognising that development is the key to eliminating the vulnerability of women to poverty, reaffirms long-held IFP policy that women must understand that self-help and self-reliance is a critical factor in reducing their poverty, powerlessness and insecurity.
At the same time, for this personal commitment to have any chance of real success throughout our communities, we acknowledge that governments must also demonstrate a political will, through the allocation of resource and the actual implementation of national legislation and international agreements (such as the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women – CEDAW), to mainstream gender concerns throughout all their development programmes.
In particular, we believe the following issues must be urgently addressed by the relevant government ministries:
- the access of women, particularly rural women, to credit facilities to enable them to start small business enterprises;
- the plight of women-headed households throughout the country and the burden being placed on widows and pensioners to care for the unemployed, the ailing victims of HIV/AIDS and HIV/AIDS orphans;
- the numerous difficulties being faced by women attempting to access welfare and poverty relief programmes; protection in accordance with the Domestic Violence Act and administrative justice as set out in the Maintenance Act;
- the increasing numbers of women, particularly the aged, reported in health and clinic surveys as suffering from severe malnutrition and ill-health;
- the appalling number of young women reported to be infected with sexually transmitted diseases and HIV/AIDS;
- the outbreak of cholera in KwaZulu Natal which has already affected thousands of people and the need for safe potable water to be provided to all our communities.
The issue of the rape and other forms of physical and psychological abuse of high numbers of South African women and girls has long been an agenda item of ongoing Women’s Brigade conferences.
In essence this amounts to a form of male terrorism being perpetrated on women and girls throughout our society which, it is agreed, is totally unacceptable. More recently there has also been an alarming increase in the abduction, sexual assault and murder of young girls and boys.
- believe that answers will only be found within our communities at grassroots level and that we need family and community responses to community problems of this nature. Leadership at all levels must be mobilised to examine and stop this terror proliferating throughout our communities;
- call on men and women to work together as agents of change and for men of courage and high moral calibre to recognise the need to be urgently involved and to involve others for the sake of their mothers, sisters, brothers, wives, daughters, sons and female friends.
Increasing the access of girls and women to primary, secondary, tertiary and adult literacy programmes is critical to advancing the position of women in our society.
The implications of the inability of uneducated women to take advantage of employment opportunities, understand and defend their rights and promote their own health and those of their children are obvious. They are permanently disadvantaged.
No country can achieve sustainable socio-economic development without educating its children and, in particular, its women and girls who in South Africa comprise just over half the country’s population.
We therefore urge members and supporters of all ages:
- to access educational facilities and to place the highest premium on a culture of learning within their families;
- to recognise the need for parents to become totally involved in all aspects of the education of their children and to constructively participate in school parent bodies;
- to encourage and support educators in the teaching profession and to praise those deserving such credit and community support;
- to report to relevant authorities all instances and truthful knowledge of the unprofessional conduct of educators in their professional capacity;
- to report to relevant authorities any knowledge whatsoever of inappropriate personal and/or sexual teacher/learner relationships;
- not to tolerate the behaviour of learners and community hooligans who participate in the ongoing destruction of school property;
- to insist on the disciplined behaviour of learners, their teachers and parent bodies.
The obvious proliferation of prostitution and the sexual exploitation of women and girls throughout South Africa can no longer be ignored.
It is being reported that this country is now a major exporter of pornographic films and other material. Newspaper advertising columns throughout the country are now openly filled with both male and female prostitutes publicly offering their services.
Clearly, as is the case all over the world, women and girls in particular are often forced into prostitution and involvement in pornography due to the dire economic circumstances in which they find themselves.
- recognise there is also a clear link between the increase in the rate of infection of HIV/AIDS throughout our population and male and female prostitution, which brings with it numerous sexually transmitted diseases and therefore an increased susceptibility of those involved to contracting the HIV/AIDS virus;
- call on families, communities, traditional, religious, government and other leaders to focus on this burgeoning phenomenon throughout society and to understand the tragic multi-faceted consequences of its proliferation throughout South Africa;
- call for policies and programmes to be devised and implemented to ensure that the criminal activity of pornographers is eliminated from our midst and that the lure to prostitution by women, girls and men is sensitively examined and handled in such a way as to attempt to save women, girls and men from this way of life.
As women stand to benefit the most from efficient and effective local government, the IFP Women’s Brigade urges its members and supporters to spearhead the Party’s local government election campaign.
The role of women is essential in spreading the IFP message that we must all take personal responsibility and do what is required in our local communities to deal with crime, create employment opportunities and ensure sustained socio-economic development.
As it is at local government level that the policies and programmes of the IFP can be achieved, we therefore also call on members to:
- mobilise support for IFP candidates;
- ensure that members vote on December 5 and cast their ballots for the IFP;
- campaign at every opportunity at venues where people gather including sports events, social gatherings and community events;
- ensure that the identification of suitable female candidates for local government and community structures is an ongoing process and that these persons are promoted and supported by us all;
- aspire to both men and women participating on an equal basis in all government structures throughout South Africa.
- constantly monitor the activities of all Councillors, and especially our Party representatives;
- take charge of their destinies and direct the development that local government can bring to all our communities.