By Ntombi Mekgwe

As we draw the curtain on the month-long celebration of Women’s Month, this should by no means mean that we scale down with the recognition of the contribution that women from all walks of lives continue to make in our society. The central theme that has been rightly identified for 2017 “The Year of OR Tambo: Women United in Moving South Africa Forward” remains very much relevant even beyond this month or year.

Building on the hard-fought legacy of the courageous women of 1956 it is important that we continue to recognize and celebrate the significant role that women firstly have played in the South African struggle for liberation and secondly in reconstructing a new society anchored of the values of non-racialism, non-sexism and equality.

Women continue to break barriers of culture, patriarchy, and societal limitations and as such today we are represented across all sectors of society.

Today, many women provide leadership in fields such as education, health, science, technology, aviation, business, public service, media and many others.

More South African women continue to be the backbones of their families and communities, working hard to make South Africa succeed. The critical issue is that, the women’s economic empowerment is fully supported by the Constitution, and other legislation and policies of government.

Women remain essential to the growth of South Africa’s economy and their success is an integral part of our country’s success and prosperity.

We therefore need to make it our collective obligation to ensure that we build on the valuable work that been taking place since the dawn of democracy and encourage women to build their careers in not only the public but in the private sectors as well.

In the space where I am women have been at the fore front of law making playing an instrumental role in legilstures across the three spheres of government. They have been hard at work to ensure that apartheid legislation is replaced with laws that are at pace with our much-celebrated Constitution and that our constitiutional democracy is safe guarded.

The strides that women have made continue to be threatened by the by stubborn patterns of patriarchy, sexism and the escalation of violence against women and children. Ours is an every day struggle to ensure that women can fully appropriate the inherent benefits that our democratic dispensation guarantees.

All South Africans should continuously rededicate themselves to the realization of the vision of those gallant women of 1956 who sought a country where they had equal opportunities, felt safe and had the freedom to contribute as equals to their country’s development. Their bravery shaped the history of our country and plight of our people. It showed us that when the power of women is unleashed we can be assured of a brighter and a better future for all our citizens.

Ntombi Mekgwe is the Provincial Treasurer of the ANC Gauteng Province and the Speaker of the Gauteng Provincial Legislature

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