"While it is difficult to establish the full extent of this epidemic -- as many offences go unreported -- studies show that the lifetime experience of South African women of gender-based violence is higher than the global average," Ramaphosa said.
He was speaking at a gathering marking the National Women's Day in Paarl near Cape Town.
The violence that women are subjected to crosses boundaries of race and class, culture and language, he said.
"Yet there is a real danger that because violence against women has become so pervasive, society is gradually unmoved and has stopped seeing it as unacceptable and abhorrent," said the president.
According to Statistics South Africa's 2016/17 Victims of Crime report, 250 out of every 100,000 women were victims of sexual offences. South African Police Service crime statistics for 2016/17 also show that 80 percent of the reported sexual offences were rape. These figures are believed to be among the highest in the world.
"We must acknowledge, as a government and as a society, that since the advent of democracy (in 1994) we have failed to ensure that the women of South Africa be able to exercise their constitutional right to peace and security," said Ramaphosa.
As demanded by woman activists, the government will hold a National Gender Summit on Aug. 31 to forge consensus on approaches to deal with the crisis of gender-based violence, discrimination against women and gender disparities, according to Ramaphosa.
The National Women's Day is designed to commemorate and honor the courageous women who marched to the Union Buildings in Pretoria in protest against the ruthless apartheid regime's unjust laws 62 years ago.