Gauteng Premier Mbhazima Shilowa says the private sector is slow on women empowerment yet this is a crucial element of transformation that should not be seen as a responsibility to government alone.
Premier Shilowa was addressing the Women's Day celebration at the Union Buildings in Pretoria and told the crowd that while his government had made tremendous strides in empowering women, he could not profess the same about the private sector.
"The situation looks bleak," he said, adding that it was about time that today's women stood up and challenged business to change and "in that way, we will be giving content to the [20 000] women who marched [to the Union Buildings] so we can achieve our freedom".
This year, the women's month theme is: 'Celebrating ten years of Freedom: Women Building a Better South Africa and a Better World'.
The heroic 20 000 women marched to the Union Buildings 47 years ago, led by Lillian Ngoyi, to protest against pass laws and demanded equal political, social and economic rights for all the citizens of the country.
He said in the private sector seemingly discriminated against women and women should stand up against that.
The provincial government would later this year hold its second annual women's dialogue to give women a platform to share experiences and skills and identify key areas for improving their lives.
Unlike last year, this year's forum is preceded by metropolitan and district dialogues. One has already been held in Johannesburg.
"We want this year's dialogue not to become a gathering of activists but an inclusive forum where women from across political spectrums, young and old, black and white can get together and discuss issues of concern," said Mr Shilowa.
The summit will discuss issues such as women's rights, economic development, sustainable communities, skills, health care, and addressing gender based violence and the HIV and AIDS pandemic will be revisited and participants will discuss how to deal with these problems in their local areas.