Cape Town, South Africa: United Nations Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed wrapped her two-day visit in South Africa yesterday by participating in an intergenerational dialogue with young women in Khayelitsa, a high-density residential area in Cape Town, as part of the 16 Days of Activism of No Violence Against Women and Children.
Joined by Graça Machel, the former First Lady of South Africa and Anne Githuku-Shongwe, the UN Women Representative in South Africa, the deputy secretary-general engaged more than 200 members of the Rise Young Women’s Club on the topic, “Imagining our future: Beyond the talk, what do young women need to feel safe and valued in society?”
The dialogue took place a day after the deputy secretary-general’s lecture at the 15th Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture at the Cape Town International Convention Centre on “Centering Gender Through Inclusion and Sustainability”. She spoke about the legacy of former President Nelson Mandela, saying it “contains the inspiration we need to address the core of my lecture: putting people at the centre to reduce inequality through inclusion and sustainability.”
She pointed out that freedom in South Africa was won through unison of men and women sacrificing and striving for freedom. Ms. Mohammed paid tribute to iconic South African women including Albertina Sisulu, Ruth First, Adelaide Tambo, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, Helen Suzman, Mamphele Ramphele as well as Ms. Machel.
Condemning the rising crimes against women in South Africa, Ms. Mohammed acknowledged the gender inequalities that still persist in societies and labelled them a “global pandemic”. She noted that up to one in three women has experienced violence in her lifetime.
“There are nearly 50 countries that do not even have laws against domestic violence,” she said. “In 37 countries, marriage excuses rape.”
“If we look at the labour force we find women doing some of the most important work in society for the least compensation.” She said in the formal workplace, women’s equal contribution is not valued equally, with women earning on average 70% of the income earned by men. “This ratio is far greater among marginalized groups.”
The Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture series “invites prominent people to drive debate on significant social issues…and encourages people to enter into dialogue – often about difficult subjects – in order to address the challenges we face today,” according to the Nelson Mandela Foundation’s website. Past speakers have included former President Bill Clinton, several other heads of state as well as former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and Microsoft founder Bill Gates.
For further information, please contact:
Zeenat Abdool, UN Information Centre in Pretoria,