As Women’s Month draws to a close, Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula points out women have achieved much in the short democratic history of South Africa to date.
“Twenty-two years later, women hold their own and have risen through the ranks of the defence establishment, occupying different roles and responsibilities, from core functions such as aircraft pilots; artillery; combat navy; navigators; medical professionals including specialists; medical practitioners; pharmacists and ancillary health; engineers; anti-aircraft; divers; mechanics, various technical musterings and commanders of various units, to mention but a few,” she said in her capacity as Minister and member of the ANC national executive committee.
“Women are also deployed in peace support operations across the continent where the SANDF is deployed, representing the defence establishment as defence attaches in various countries and also as senior officers, with no less than six women at the rank of major general serving side by side with their male counterparts.
“They also serve in many other areas of responsibility in senior and middle management and at the coalface. The SANDF is a home for all patriotic men and women, with every profession one can think of.”
Mapisa-Nqakula maintains “more can and is being done to ensure continued affirmation of women, particularly those from the ranks of the liberation movement who cut their teeth in the trenches of the struggle, especially the armed struggle in the hardships of our military camps and in the underground structures. This applies to those still in South Africa’s armed forces and those who have demobilised or retired”.
According to the most recent Department of Defence annual report, “the representation of women in the DOD continues to be addressed in departmental policies and manifests in the following: Recruitment at entry level to be increased to 50%; Representation of women to be increased at all levels of command; The number of women Defence attachés to be increased; Gender and leadership seminars to be conducted across the gender divide; Gender perspectives and dynamics to be incorporated with all military development courses.”
The Department of Defence has seen an increase in the number of female employees, with this increasing from 22 504 in the 2013/14 financial year to 22 687 the following year. Female representation remained constant at 29%, compared to 2013/14, the Department said. Of the total number of 2 633 new appointments effected during 2014/15, 1 145 or 43.4% were female.
Of the 2 047 people recruited into the Military Skills Development System (MSDS) in the 2014/15 financial year, 803 or 39% were women.
As of March 2015 the DoD had 78 011 personnel, including 40 215 in the Army, 10 443 in the Air Force, 7 575 in the Navy, 8 145 in the Military Health Service and 3 094 in the Logistic Division.