Minister of Women must condemn Mugabe’s sexist remarks at AU Summit
03 February 2015
Media reports detailing sexist remarks made by Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, in his capacity as new AU chairperson at the African Union Summit in Addis Ababa this week, cannot be left unanswered by the South African government.
I call on the Minister of Women in the Presidency, Ms Susan Shabangu, to publicly condemn these offensive comments. If the Minister is at all committed to the fight against sexism, she will have no problem in doing so (seehere).
Mugabe was quoted as saying: “[Women] get married, they must have babies, they must live at home, that’s a problem. I’m saying it’s not possible that women can be at par with men.”
It cannot be acceptable to South Africa as a member state, that the AU Chairperson makes comments such as these at a summit themed the “Year of Women’s Empowerment and Development towards Africa’s Agenda 2063”.
The patriarchal and sexist assumptions inherent in his comments is deeply worrying. A women’s ability to carry and have children does not preclude them from the workplace.
Rather it is structural sexism and the attitudes of those high up in business and government, as illustrated by President Mugabe’s comments, which serve to exclude and cap women’s advancement.
Public figures on a continent that has some of the worst cases of gender inequality in the world, have a responsibility to promote equal rights and freedoms.
In August 2012 our own President Zuma commented that “I know that people today think being single is nice. It’s not actually right. You’ve got to have kids. Kids are important to a women because they actually give extra training to a woman, to be a mother.”
Blatantly sexist comments such as those uttered by both President Mugabe and President Zuma serve only to reinforce gender inequality and sexist beliefs.
Statement issued by Denise Robinson MP, DA Shadow Minister of Women in the Presidency, February 3 2015