Celebrating the National Women’s Day of South Africa with Qatari Spirit

by Tariq Ali Faraj Al-Ansari, Ambassador of the State of Qatar to South Africa

7 August 2020

I would like to congratulate all women and girls in the Republic of South Africa on their National Women’s Day, August 9th, which is historical in making the change that they well-deserved. 74 years ago, exactly on 9 August 1956, more than 20,000 South African brave women marched in order to fight for their freedom and for attaining their inalienable right to freely move and protect their livelihood in their own country.

Today, we can witness the achievements of the Republic of South Africa in the field of women empowerment and advancement, where capable women are leading departments and state agencies. As a diplomat, I have the privilege to salute the role of H. E. Dr. Naledi Pandor – South Africa’s Foreign Minister, in leading the Department of International Relations and Cooperation of her country. Prominently, on 17 July 2020, Dr. Pandor strongly stated her country’s position on the role of women in peace and security in a message addressed to the UN Security Council. In her statement, Dr. Pandor presented the vision and achievements of South Africa in fulfilling the objectives of Security Council resolution 1325 on women, peace and security, important agenda item at the UN. She also considered the right of women as key for the true meaning of freedom when she quoted a phrase of President Nelson Mandela stating, “Freedom can’t be achieved unless the women have been emancipated from all forms of oppression”.

What encourages me more to commemorate the 9th of August with all South Africans, is that both the Republic South Africa and my country, the State of Qatar, achieved a lot in meeting the targets of the fifth sustainable development goal of the UN agenda “Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls”. Both countries are combating all forms of discrimination against women and girls, fighting all forms of violence, preventing women trafficking and sexual exploitation of women and girls. Both countries have proudly submitted to the UN, transparent and declared national reports on their commitment towards the implementation of the global landmark women empowerment and advancement blueprint: Beijing Declaration and Platform of Action. This declaration resulted from the World Conference on Women, September 1995, in Beijing and continues to promulgate principles concerning the empowerment of women and gender equality.

The year 2020 marks the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform of Action, as well as the 75th anniversary of the United Nations and the 20th anniversary of the Security Council Resolution 1325 on women, peace and security.

I would like to seize this opportunity to proudly recall that Qatar’s constitution stipulates that “all persons are equal before the law and there shall be no discrimination whatsoever on grounds of gender, race, language or religion”. Qatar has achieved the highest labor force of woman in the broader Arab region, and was the first country in the Gulf to grant women the right to vote. Gender parity has also been achieved in education, in consistency with SDG4 “Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all”. Qatar has women working in all fields including leading positions in the policy making of the government, academia, civil society, law enforcement and other sectors.

However, the road to achieve a global environment of women empowerment and advancement is still long and in need for genuine political will, since all countries must have the spirit and desire to achieve the women empowerment and advancement agenda. Women in many parts of the world still suffer disproportionately from violent extremism, conflicts, humanitarian disasters, forced displacements, climate change, poverty and other forms of exploitation. In this context, countries can benefit from the strategies of both Qatar and South Africa, in order to forge their national plans devoted to women empowerment and gender equality. In our world that became global town, we need to cooperate and share the experiences of each other in order to develop and flourish.

Again, congratulations to the Republic of South Africa and all its women and girls on this auspicious day, their day that became a landmark day for all of us.