Alicea van der Ryst

It cannot be denied that the role a woman played in the greater scheme of things were limited to her ability to nurture and care for her family for decades. Even though it is one of the greatest blessings a woman can have, the world realised that women have more rights and skills than what is being led on by our finesse and style. We are no longer precluded from the “all-boys club” of business and profession, as we now have the right and privy to the advantages of being a mom, a role model, a chef, a teacher, an entrepreneur, and an educated leader in addition to our craft.

The greatest and most powerful instrument that women in South Africa have is the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa.

A section of interest, setting out the rights that women have acquired with the implementation of the Constitution, is Section 9(3) which prohibits unfair discrimination against anyone on one or more grounds that are specified in the subsection[1].

Another form of legislation that is of interest is Section 8 of the Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act 4 of 2000 which lucidly provides that ‘no person may unfairly discriminate against any person on the ground of gender, including –

(d) any practice, including traditional, customary or religious practice, which impairs the dignity of women and undermines equality between women and men, including, the undermining of the dignity and well-being of the girl child;
(e) any policy or conduct that unfairly limits access of women to land rights, finance, and other resources;
(f) discrimination on the ground of pregnancy;
(g) limiting women’s access to social services or benefits, such as health, education and social security.

When considering the aforementioned legislation, it is abundantly clear that the rights and powers that women have are the same as that of men, which is also quite poetic due to the fact that women are constantly being underestimated.

Let us therefore celebrate Women’s month by applying Mother Teresa’s wise words and inspiring our fellow women into believing in themselves and using their rights to their advantage:

“Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.”

[1] the Act unequivocally defines ‘prohibited grounds’ as –

(a) race, gender, sex, pregnancy, marital status, ethnic or social origin, colour, sexual orientation, age, disability, religion, conscience, belief, culture, language and birth; or

(b) any other ground where discrimination based on that other ground –

(i) causes or perpetuates systemic disadvantage;

(ii) undermines human dignity; or

(iii) adversely affects the equal enjoyment of a person’s rights and freedoms in a serious manner that is comparable to discrimination on a ground in paragraph (a).’

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your legal adviser for specific and detailed advice.