Public Protector Advocate Thuli Madonsela has urged women to take a leading role in their various respective responsibilities to help in the transformation of society.
She was speaking the Human Science Research Council (HSRC) Feminist Dialogue in Pretoria on Thursday. The event brought together academics, feminist activists, policy makers, civil society to reflect on and critically examine the role of women in transforming public, private institutions and the society.
The Public Protector advised women that there was a need to take a leading role regardless of the position they occupied in the society. "Having a position is not about power, it is about responsibility," she said. The Public Protector further warned that leadership started at a level when one does not have a title because it will be difficult to be a leader when you have a title.
She lauded women in leadership positions who continue to do a sterling job in their respective roles. She acknowledged that women have always been at the forefront in transforming the society citing Charlotte Maxeke and others. "It is not a new thing that women always want to transform the society," she said.
While acknowledging the progress made in transformation, the Public Protector warned that more still needs to be done. She noted that there has been an increase in women taking leadership position, not because of their gender but because of their competency and expertise, and this was encouraging.
She referred to a local primary in Kroonstad who built a school from scratch which accommodates over 2000 learners today. The Public Protector told the story of a councillor who mobilised her community to find a body of a missing girl and whose action led to the killer giving himself up to the police.
The Public Protector said that the country had done exceedingly well in introducing enabling laws and policies and on gender awareness but there were serious implementation gaps. She mentioned Chapter 5 of the Equality Act among the lapses and further called for an environment where everyone's potential would be freed.
She ended with an invitation to women to get involved in all national dialogues on key issues, including good governance and corruption. The Public Protector invited women leaders at all levels to work with her office and other state institutions to strengthen democracy, promote the rule of law and ensure that government implements measures required to ensure an improved quality of life for all.