1. We, delegates from branches of the largest organisation of South African women, the ANC Women’s League, gathered at the NASREC Johannesburg Conference Centre from 21 to 24 July 2023, under the theme: ADVANCING DECISIVE ACTION TOWARDS THE FULL LIBERATION AND EMANCIPATION OF WOMEN.
2. We convened to reflect on the multiple struggles as experienced by thousands of women in their diversities in the villages, townships, and towns across the urban, peri-urban, and rural areas in South Africa. It is through the collective wisdom of our communities from which we draw our mandate as the ANC Women’s League (ANCWL).
3. We, the women of South Africa, come from a tradition of shared struggle, resistance, and decisive action. The year 2023 marks 110 years since the women’s anti-pass campaign in Bloemfontein led by Mme Charlotte Maxeke, which later led to the first women’s organization, the Bantu Women’s League in 1918. We also observe 80 years since women were granted full ANC membership in its 1943 Constitution. This watershed moment led to the formation of several women’s organizations including the gallant ANCWL in 1948, the Federation of South African Women (FEDSAW) in 1954, the Black Sash in 1955, the United Women’s Congress, the Federation of Transvaal Women, the Border Women’s Congress, the Port Elizabeth Women’s Organisation, and the Natal Organization of Women (NOW) in the 1980S, and the National Women’s Coalition in 1991, amongst many others.
4. This year marks 29 years since the end of the Apartheid regime and the journey of strengthening a democratic dispensation that is responsive to the lived realities of ALL women. We, the ANCWL must ensure that the shackles of the triple oppression of gender, race and class is broken. This requires that we continue our tradition of shared struggle through a organised, agile, politically sound and organisationally intact women’s movement. The
ANCWL remains an indelible part of the unbreakable thread of progressive forces in our country, in the African continent and in the world.
5. We, as delegates to the 13th National Conference of the ANC Women’s League, have considered the outcomes of the 55th National Conference of the African National Congress (ANC), the deliberations of ANCWL structures at regional and provincial level, and the Young Women’s and LGBTQI+ Desks. We engaged the Political, Organisational and Financial Reports delivered on behalf of the National Task Team. In addition, we deliberated on issues raised by the ANC, as delivered by our Secretary General, our fraternal organizations including the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), the South African National Civic Organisation (SANCO), the ANC Youth League, the South African Communist Party (SACP) and other stakeholders.
The 13th National Conference of the ANC Women’s League therefore affirms as follows:
6. We are united behind the strategic objective of the ANC, which recognizes the intersection of the three fundamental contradictions of colonialism of a special type (CST); racial oppression, women’s oppression, and class super-exploitation.
7. We seek to achieve this through the transformation of South Africa into a non-racial, non-sexist, non-discriminative, united, democratic, and prosperous society based on the vision, values and principles of the Freedom Charter, the National Democratic Revolution, and the Constitution of our country. Our primary mission remains the building of a better life for all South Africans, especially the marginalized, the majority being vulnerable African women.
8. We understand that patriarchal norms and values are deeply entrenched in the social, economic, and political relations in society. Therefore, its eradication cannot be deemed an automatic consequence of democracy. All manifestations of patriarchy – from open and hidden forms of exclusion to the undermining of self-determination of ALL women – must be consciously eliminated.
9. We proclaim that it is for these reasons that we affirm the status of ALL women as a critical part of the motive forces for change. This motive force includes ALL women in rural areas, townships, villages and informal settlements, institutions of higher learning and skills centres, in the informal and formal economies, the various professions, across the social, public, and
private sectors. It includes women of all ages, women with disabilities; as well as women within the LGBTQI+ community.
10. We strongly confirm the ANC Women’s League’s role to champion the hope and aspirations of ALL women, advance decisive action towards gender transformation, elevate the women’s agenda, to focus the ANC and society at large on the struggle against patriarchal power relations, and lead the building of a non-sexist and equitable South Africa.
11. We acknowledge that the ANC Women’s League, is tasked with broadening the mass base of the ANC, be at the cutting edge of the broader women’s movement, lead in the education and mobilisation of ANC members, ALL women, and men alike on gender equality.
12. We as the ANC Women’s League have the responsibility for organising women across all sectors of society, behind the vision of the ANC; and ensure that women continue to vote for a decisive victory of the ANC in elections.
THIS 13TH NATIONAL CONFERENCE OF THE ANC WOMEN’S LEAGUE (ANCWL) THEREFORE DECLARES:
On the ANC Gender Framework and 30 Years of Democracy
13. We recognize the substantial strides made in advancing women’s political, social and economic empowerment, as well as promoting gender equality in South Africa. These gains affirm that women have been the driving force behind the advancement of the National Democratic Revolution.
14. Towards the commemoration of the 30 years of democracy, it is imperative to celebrate these strides by engaging in a deliberate process of writing and documenting the achievements made by ALL women during this period.
15. Take the opportunity to celebrate and document the pivotal role played by the ANCWL in advancing progressive policies embraced and implemented by the ANC-led government. The ANCWL’s tireless efforts and advocacy have shaped intersectionalities in policies that promote diversity, mainstreaming, inclusivity, and equality.
On Organisational Renewal and Sustainability
16. We affirm that the ANC Women’s League remains the vanguard of women’s emancipation in the country and the continent. The ANCWL must play a critical role in ensuring the realisation of ANC’s Vision 2032, that does not leave women on the peripheries of organizational, political, social, and economic transformation.
17. To improve the organizational and program sustainability of the ANCWL we must align all Conference resolutions to the Constitution, the Strategy and Programme of Action, matched with resources for sustainability and organisational autonomy to implement our mandate.
18. We align with the ANC 55th Conference Resolution on ‘Finance: Organization and Program Sustainability’ that in order to remain a relevant and transformative leader of society, we must invest in long-term financial sustainability by strengthening and capacitating the organisation with viable and impactful fundraising strategies and modernized systems.
On Economic Transformation
19. We proclaim that the advancement of women’s rights and gender equality hinges on women’s access to economic opportunities. It is for this reason, that we decisively declare our resolve to implement the 40% participation of women in public procurement, and the transformation of key sectors of the economy to realise meaningful economic participation and contribution of women across all sectors.
20. We affirm the importance of supporting the growth of women-owned Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), cooperatives, township, rural, and informal enterprises, we must:
(i) broaden access to tailored financial and non-financial products;
(ii) draw on innovative approaches to sources of funding; and establish funds in collaboration with the private sector to mitigate capital deficiencies and transfer skills and knowledge;
(iii) employ fiscal policy interventions, financial instruments, blended finance, and incentives to attract investment;
(iv) facilitate access to markets and integration in local, regional, and global value chains; and
(v) cut red-tape, streamline processes, strengthen the regulatory and administrative environment.
On Social Transformation
21. We recommit ourselves to developing and deepening this democracy into a truly people-oriented, people-centered participatory democracy by addressing the triple challenges of poverty, inequality, and unemployment.
22. We are determined to advance the work to facilitate social protection to vulnerable social groups in our society, transforming and building a new society that is peaceful, equal and just as envisioned in the Freedom Charter.
23. We firmly believe that driving behavioral change is critical to achieving social transformation and as the ANCWL, we are committed to addressing social ills in our communities by accelerating impact-driven initiatives in communities together with the private sector and civil society.
On Education, Science, Technology and Innovation
24. We assert that there is a need for immediate and decisive work towards the transformation of the Education, Science and Technology sector with the role of women becoming more prominent. Education remains an important tool through which the fight against inequality, unemployment and poverty could be won.
25. We, as the ANC Women’s League will be at the centre of ensuring that the society is mobilised and embraces the importance of Education, Science and Technology as the cornerstone of building a competent and leading economy.
26. We are determined to play a leading role in mobilising women to participate in the 2024 School Governing Bodies (SGB) elections. This would be in addition to the expected task of mobilising women behind the banner of the ANC in the 2024 General Elections.
On Peace and Security
27. We are resolute to promote gender-inclusive conflict resolution and peacebuilding efforts, ensuring women’s active participation and leadership in peace processes.
28. We commit to elevate the Gertrude Shope Peacekeeping Forum as a mechanism to teach women to negotiate and promote peace and conflict resolution.
On Arts, Culture and Heritage
29. We, as the ANC Women’s League welcome the Government declaration of 2023 being a “Year of Women in Sport”. Considering the country has hosted five major World Games namely the Inaugural ICC under-19 Women’s T20 World Cup; FIH Indoor Hockey World Cup; Women’s T20 World Cup; World Table Tennis Championships and the Netball World Cup for the first time in 60 years hosted in the African Continent.
30. We welcome the European Court of Human Rights ruling on the appeal of Caster Semenya, our 800m Olympic champion, who won the appeal over the Switzerland Supreme Court and Lausanne-based Court of Arbitration for Sport on a legal battle against the World Athletics. The Court found that Caster Semenya as an applicant had not been afforded adequate hearing to advance her case. Whilst this is a victory, it however did not question the regulations of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) and did not pave a way for her to participate without discrimination.
On Legislature and Governance
31. We as the ANCWL recognize that legislature and governance provide strategy and tools to create an inclusive, equitable society where women’s voices are heard, and their rights are protected.
32. We are concerned about the increasing rates of gender-based violence and femicide as the scourge continues to ravage communities. It demands intensified and urgent comprehensive interventions. We, therefore, call on the government to fast-track and implement strategies that combat this issue, ensuring the safety and dignity of all women including preventive education, victim support services, and enhanced law enforcement efforts.
33. We call on Parliament to fast-track the passing of the bill toward the decriminalization of sex work. The 13th National Congress have expressed its disappointment at the slow progress since the Cabinet approved the publishing of the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Bill of 2022. Sex worker’s human rights must be respected and protected.
34. We further call on Parliament to urgently pass the Hate Crimes Bill.
35. We call on government to improve capacity in delivering services for the people through gender responsive national planning, monitoring, policy coordination, financing, and the macro-organisation of the state. This is in line with the ANC’s call to build a capable ethical developmental state that is premised on inclusion, transformation, justice, and decisive leadership.
36. We call on the ANC and all Sectors to decisively ensure equitable representation of women in all leadership roles in ALL institutions and across society.
On International Relations
37. We commit to expand our collaboration with political parties, women groups and organizations at local, continental and international levels to ensure peace and stability is attained. Through these collaborations this will create an enabling environment for the implementation of the AU Agenda2063 and its 15 Flagship Projects as well as the SDG 2030 and ensure it spreads to grassroot level.
38. We commit to celebrating the African Women’s Day which is the anniversary of PAWO’s formation in 1962 which paved a way for the establishment of the OAU IN 1963. As the ANCWL, we urgently call upon the South African government to operationalize PAWO’s headquarters in South Africa by 2024 as per resolution of the PAWO Conference in Namibia in 2020.
39. We congratulate the ANC on the successful hosting of the BRICS Political Parties Plus Dialogue in July 20023 and look forward to the forthcoming XVth BRICS Summit which we envisage will contribute to strengthened development of the Global South. The ANCWL will ensure that women in business and civil societies are fully included in BRICS programmes in order to create linkages with our domestic economic situation especially job creation, investment, women-led industries, international trade.
40. We further call for a peaceful resolution of the Russia-Ukraine conflict. We support the full implementation of UNSC Resolution 1325 which promotes the protection of women, the involvement of women in peace processes and conflict resolution. We also call for fast-tracking silencing of the guns in countries such as Sudan, Mozambique (Cabo Delgado), Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Central African Republic and Libya. The ANCWL
supports the full implementation of the peace agreement between the Ethiopian government and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front.
AS WE RISE FROM THE 13 NATIONAL CONFERENCE OF THE ANC WOMEN’S LEAGUE
We, the delegates of the 13th ANC Women’s League Conference:
- • Welcome and congratulate the new leadership elected by the will of the delegated branches.
- • Affirm the reignition, renewal and the revitalisation