Issued by the FW de Klerk Foundation on 08/08/2023


According to the Global Gender Gap Report 2023, South Africa stood unchanged from its 20th position in the world in terms of gender equality. The report noted that South Africa had “closed more than 70% of the overall gender gap”, but that it would “take 102 years to close the gender gap”. 

South Africa ranked 81 in the world for economic participation and opportunity (an improvement of 11 spots from 2022) and 43 for educational attainment (2 spots lower than 2022). It performed best in political empowerment and health and survival, ranking 13 and 29 respectively. 

The report went on to list the “indicators”, or factors, considered in this assessment as whether women can participate in the labour force and enrol in educational institutions, attain top level positions, own assets and access state benefits. 

However, according to the FW de Klerk Foundation’s Human Rights Report Card 2022, “South Africans continued to experience high rates of violent crime – including murder, armed robbery, rape and other sexual offences as well as violence against women and children. This poor performance reflected the state’s lack of effective capacity to protect individuals, and especially South Africa’s most vulnerable populations, from violence”. 

During 2022, SAPS reported 41 739 rapes and in the first 3 months of 2023, a shockingly high number of 10 512 rapes were reported – although it is generally acknowledged that only a small proportion of rapes are ever reported to the police. Even so, according to the World Population Review, South Africa’s rape rate is 72,1/100K – the fourth highest in the world, with the world average at 12,27/100K. 

Gender-based violence (GBV) remains a critical issue for South African women. Despite the Government’s National Strategic Plan on Gender-Based Violence and Femicide, attacks on women continue to increase yearly. 

Today, as South Africans pay tribute to the thousands of women who marched to the Union Buildings in Pretoria on this same date, in 1956, to protest against the extension of Pass Laws to women, we are reminded of the crucial role women have played and continue to play in our country. 

A coordinated effort from Government, civil society and all individual South Africans is required to bring awareness to GBV, to reject sexism and intolerance in all its forms and to educate communities on the danger of apathy or silence. We must be determined in our resolve to build a South Africa in which women can enjoy all the rights, freedoms, and liberties that our Constitution guarantees. 

This Women’s Day, we pay tribute to the courage and contribution of women before us and celebrate the new generation of women who will shape our future. We commit ourselves to defending and promoting women’s rights, and we call upon our fellow South Africans to do the same. 


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