South Africans should rally together in ensuring that women are not discriminated against, says community advocacy organisation Amandla.mobi. Its Executive Director Koketso Moeti says the organisation will be keeping an eye on the developments in the Maidens Bursary Award issue.
This follows the Commission of Gender Equality (CGE) is calling for a ban on the bursary award. Moeti says they have been against bursary since its inception.
The UThukela District Municipality in KwaZulu-Natal awarded 16 young women bursaries for studying in 2016. The conditions of the bursary included that they remain virgins, and undergo virginity testing every holiday to ensure that they are not sexually active.
“Immediately when it came to our, we launched a campaign calling for it to be scrapped; we also encouraged those who joined the campaign to directly email the Commission for Gender Equality and the Human Rights Commission to call for its banning,” says Moeti.
Moeti says the municipality can look at other ways in which they can empower women
According to Amandla.mobi the bursary is discriminatory to women. “The reason for this practice is discriminatory. There are other categories in which boys also receive bursaries but they do not have to undergo what is an unscientific, invasive test and it is deeply flawed. (…) I would like to draw a distinction. When it is structured within a cultural context it is completely understandable, so condemning it in this line is not to condemn the cultural aspect but within this.”
Moeti says the municipality can look at other ways in which they can empower women. She says the bursary could still be given but the conditions thereof changed.
“We have high levels of sexual violence and have very serious women rights issues in the country. This bursary can be given to women but if it is about uplifting women, it should be done in a way that empowers women, that does not discriminate between women who may have been victims of rape, that does not discriminate against women having the urgency to exercise whatever they want to do with their bodies.”
Click below to listen to Moeti:
CGE’s investigation found that the allocation of financial support based on a woman’s virginity is discriminatory. Moeti says the organisation is encouraged by the findings.
“The only concern that I do have is that we need to ensure that it does not happen again. It is very disheartening to see that the UThukela mayor is still trying to fight and resist this. It is saying hat there are huge problems in that municipality in general. I think that we should still be keeping an eye on what is going on there irrespective of the CGE findings.”