Address by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma at the National Congress of Black Women After Receiving the Good Brother Award on behalf of President Thabo Mbeki, Washington, USA 12 September 2004

Madam chairperson,

Honourable Members of Congress,

Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen

I am delighted to accept this honour on behalf of President Mbeki. Though I am perhaps a little bias, there are few leaders in today's world who more genuinely deserve to be recognised in this way. President Mbeki is truly a "Good Brother" to the women of Africa, the diaspora and the world,

He is grateful, and humbled, that you have chosen him for this award. He would have loved to be here today had his calendar permitted. President Mbeki recognises with deep gratitude the work of the National Congress of

Black Women as you celebrate 20 years of advancing the empowerment of Black Women.

This is indeed a happy coincidence that we are also celebrating 10 years of victory for Democracy, non racialism and non sexism. This victory of course is as much ours as it is yours,

You were with us during the difficult days of our struggle and you are still with us today in our struggle against poverty and underdevelopment and more importantly you are still with us in this global struggle against racism and sexism.

We have tried to ensure gender friendly policies, of course some of the things I will mention are things that you take for granted in this part of the world. Provision of water, electricity has freed millions of women from spending their time walking long distances in search of water and firewood. Women have now got access to land, health services and girls' access to education. Women can now own business.

They have maternity leave and other benefits. There are of course still many challenges because not all women have access to what I have mentioned yet but a good foundation has been laid over the past decade. The struggle continues of course.

Together we share the conviction that women must take leadership positions in all sectors of society if countries and communities are to develop to their full potential. The contribution of women is vital for peace, stability the resolution of conflict, for the eradication of poverty and for the creation for a more humane world.

Our government tries to lead by example. Out of 28 Cabinet Ministers, 12 are women. Though this is not enough, we are moving in the right direction. 4 out of the 9 Provincial Premiers' are women. Parliament has close to 30% of women.

We are also working hard internationally, in our continent and in the world for the implementation of the Beijing Platform. I am particularly proud that the African Union is the one and only international organisation that decided to have at least 50% women in its Commission. South Africa contributed very strongly to have that implemented.

Now the AU (African Union) has gone further to say all its institutions should strive for gender parity, and that alS public institutions in member states should also strive for parity and that the Heads of States should report every year to the Assembly of Heads of State on progress in this regard.

Since the President cannot be here personally I would like to share with you an address he gave last month to the South African chapter of the International Association of Women Judges. He took as his text for the occasion the word of Judge Constance Baker Motley, the first African American woman appointed to the US Federal Court for the Southern District of New York.

"Surveys" Judge Motley said over a quarter of a century ago, "have shown that women are inclined to be more concerned with ethics, community projects, good schools and furthering general welfare, which concern is reflected in their voting habits."

Women representatives, likewise, reflect in the conduct of their political careers a deep interest in, and dedication to, the higher aspect of public service."

Judge Motley continued. "This is probably due, in part, to the fact that women must still prove themselves professionally in competition with men in an atmosphere of considerable prejudice against their sex. But it must also be due to the natural tendency of women to desire passionately a world without war and a society without chaos.

For President Mbeki, Judge Motley's insights are key to realising the vision of the African Renaissance. Without the full emancipation and empowerment of women our Continent is likely to remain synonymous to the world's eyes with poverty, disease, conflict and misrule, This baneful reputation will continue to shackle the dreams and prospects of everyone of African descent wherever they may live.

Africa's women are rising to the challenge. We are living, President told the judges' association, through a moment of great awakening. The ordinary people of our continents are beginning to set their own agenda, In action they are saying that the demagogues and the time-servers and the men who behave like "little gods" will not determine what they, the people, will do today and tomorrow.

"It is the women of Africa," the President continued, "who are leading the charge, They have been the principle victims of oppression and war, poverty and marginalization, the loss of human dignity and dehumanization and even genocide. And they are saying that now is the time to end all that."

"In action they are making the statement that they want to see a new Africa motivated to address the concerns identified by Judge Motley, This is a new Africa motivated to address the concerns identified by Judge Motley. This is a new Africa that must focus its attention on "ethics, community projects, good schools and furthering general welfare".

"It is a new Africa whose governments and public representatives must demonstrate "dedication to the highest aspects of the public service" It is renewed Africa that reconstructs itself as "a world without war and a society without chaos whose institutions are dedicated to serve "the best interest of humanity."

Let me close by thanking you again for the recognition you have bestowed on South Africa with this award to President Mbeki. I will leave you with his own parting words to the judges association. They are equally apt here: "I am certain that, as women, you have the possibility to define what the 21st Century will be, Certainly, it should not and cannot distinguish itself as yet another age characterised by the oppression of women and the impoverishment of billions. Together we have the collective strength and the obligation to give birth to a new world."

We are also aware of your interest in conflict resolution that South Africa, led by our President is involved in. The AU (African Union) is also striving to end ail conflicts. We are seized with the situation in Sudan. I am aware of your own efforts for the resolution of that conflict

I thank you.

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