South Africa’s Public Protector Advocate Thulisile Madonsela has said the new South African Immigration laws are economically killing the women of both South Africa and the southern African region.
She said this when she addressed the Pan-African Parliament’s (PAP) 2015 Women’s Conference on Monday on a topic ‘Creating Awareness among Women Legislators on the existing gaps between policy frameworks on Women’s Rights and Africa Women’s Rights, actual realities’.
Madonsela said the requirement that women have to produce unabridged birth certificates every time they cross the border was killing their small businesses.
She asked PAP legislators to seriously dissect bills in their respective countries before passing them into acts.
South Africa is Malawi’s largest trading partner on the continent and cross-border trade, especially by Malawian women, has thrived for decades.
“It is common knowledge that women within the region always travel to other countries to buy goods which in turn they sell in their respective countries. But with the amended Immigration Act, some women have now been found in a position of not travelling cross-borders because of the need to carry unabridged birth certificates,” she said.
According to Madonsela, the new South African laws are hindering women from contributing to the economy.
She said everyone has a role to play when it comes to issues of women empowerment, stating that “it is everybody’s business to address issues of gender”.
Madonsela, however, urged women to find ways of fighting what she described as “white-collar prostitution” a situation whereby women sleep their way to top positions which, she said, is another form of abuse against women.
“This is a gender imbalance. Men who still abuse women in that manner must be ashamed. It is common for people to blame the women, but this is a sign that women are still economically disadvantaged,” she explained.
The acclaimed public prosecutor said both male and females should get jobs on merit, “and if a man wants to cry at work, he must be allowed to”.
She, therefore, said it was critical that the legislators ensure that women’s rights are upheld.
The two-day women caucus, which began yesterday, is themed 2015: Year of Women’s Empowerment and Development towards Africa’s Agenda 2016- From Dialogue to Action: The Role of PAP Women in Parliaments.