MEC Williams addresses taxi industry women at Santaco Women’s Desk Workshop

MEC Pauline Williams

Our distinguished guests, Women of the Santaco Women’s Desk;
National President of Santaco, Mr Taaibosch;
Provincial Chairperson and First President of Santaco, Mr Nkonki;
Government Officials and Senior Managers of the Department;
Members of various NGOs and CBOs;
Fellow citizens of the Northern Cape;
Various media houses present;
Distinguished guests;
Ladies and gentlemen

I am honoured to be addressing the Santaco Women’s Desk. Let me first start by recognizing the bravery displayed by each and every one of you gathered here today and all women making strides in male dominated industries. Your efforts are opening up doors for others and demystifying what women are capable of achieving.

You are in an industry where we seldom see women but this gathering here is evident that women are taking their positions and affirming their stance. I know it cannot be easy but your drive and commitment inspires me.

You remind me of the 20 000 women that marched to the Union Buildings in protest against the proposed “pass laws” in 1956. Their protest showed unity, disregarded race and class, and displayed what women can achieve if they stand united. They changed the course of history. Gathered here today, I see the same strength, game-changers: women that can changed the perception and course of women in the taxi industry.

It is not only admirable to see women take their positions and occupy the space in the male-dominated industry but it shows true bravery as many would be intimidated by the industry especially with the unsettling history it has.

I must reflect that many women have been in the industry and succeeded. Some women joined the industry by choice while for others it was due to the passing of a spouse that they found themselves in the driving seat. So, whatever the circumstance is that led you to this industry, don’t sell yourself short but recognize the strides you have made.
I plea with you to use this platform to show that united women in the taxi industry can achieve beyond what is already there. You have literally taken the bull by the horns. I must applaud you.

With that said, Santaco’s Women’s Desk is truly one of a kind structures, as it is a structure solely for women in the taxi industry under the Santaco banner. So, this structure is for you and by you as women.

The time has come for women to change the tide and change the statistics because according to Santaco women still remain the minority in the industry.

Santaco indicates that the taxi industry transports about 16 million passengers daily, the single biggest public transport mode, ensuring access for our people to services and economic opportunities. The industry responds to the transport needs of the poorest of the poor, as it reaches routes right where our people stay.

About 185 000 people work in the minibus taxi industry in South Africa. These workers provide the main form of public transport in the country. About 95% of workers in the taxi industry are African. Less than 2% are women. Many of these women only do administrative work for the taxi associations.

Now, in the Northern Cape alone with over 3 000 Operating Licences, less than 100 of these Operating Licences belong to women. We want to see women take leadership and managerial positions in the industry and help lead. So, a serious shift is needed in these stats.

We as a Department of Transport in the Province are committed to be part of the shift, to see the shift as we promote gender equality in this male-dominant transport industry. This empowerment workshop is to further assist you to effectively operate in the taxi industry and seek opportunities beyond the industry because we want to see you succeed.

We want to encourage you and support you as women in the transport industry, because you are more than just women in the taxi industry. You are part of the transport sector which is broad and avails much opportunities.

We have shown our commitment to the Santaco’s Women Desk with funding and helping with the development of a business plan to assist take the women desk further. We request that in turn, you further show us your commitment by making the best use of this opportunity and grow in the industry. Help other women still looking to get into the industry, form cooperatives and seize opportunities that will help you grow and be seen as a force to be reckoned with.

In conclusion, share ideas, support one another and encourage each other. You know the challenges you face as women in the industry, but don’t let that determine where you are going. See beyond the challenges and create opportunities in the industry and make your mark as women in the taxi industry but most importantly as women in the transport sector. Women, I urge you to “Move South Africa Forward” as women in the transport sector.

I thank you.