Women make strides in SA

Monday, September 7, 2015

By Edwin Tshivhidzo

Women's Month came to an end last week, with a strong indication that South Africa has come a long way in the promotion of women in the country.

However, more still needs to be done to gain further progress in empowering women to participate in the economy and in all other spheres of society.

South Africa has made strides to improve the participation of women in the economy and politics recording impressive numbers of women in parliament and the judiciary.

According to the Status of Women in the Economy Report, women representation in the National Assembly moved from a mere 2.7% pre 1994 to the current 41%.

According to the report, about 9.5 million women are participating in the labour force in 2015, representing about 45.2 percent of the total.

In his address on Women’s Day in the Free State recently, President Jacob Zuma said from 1994, government had to embark on the empowerment of women, socially and economically.

He said government reviewed and developed laws to promote the rights of women.

“If the country is to succeed economically, women must participate at both the micro and macro levels of the economy.

“They must not be relegated to micro operations and the informal economy as has been the case,” he said.

President Zuma said significant progress has been made in areas such as women’s involvement in critical decision-making bodies especially at the political level. He noted that the Speaker and the Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) are women.

The representation of women in Cabinet following the 2014 general election stands at 43%, with Deputy Ministers being at 45.9%.

Following the 2011 Local Government Elections, the representation of women in Local Government Councils is at 38.4% compared to 28.2% in 2000.

Women constitute about 33% of all the judges.  The judiciary had two white women in 1994 and now, there are 61 women judges of which 48 are black women. Furthermore, there are two women Judge Presidents and a woman Deputy Judge President.

Women also make up almost 40% of the senior managers in the public service.

Diplomatic appointments of women have also increased dramatically. In 2001, only eight women, constituting 17.4% of the total number, were serving as Heads of Missions abroad.

The successful women involvement in the economy is attributed to the Department of Women which has played a role in ensuring that all public and private sector programmes mainstream gender to guarantee the removal of barriers to the advancement of women.

The removal of these obstacles remains critical to achieving women empowerment and gender equality.

After 1994, the principle of gender equality influenced policy and legislation formulation in economic and development-related areas such as access to employment, land, housing, water, health care and public works programmes among others.

According to the report, women’s contribution to the country’s GDP has shown some improvement, with more women participating in the economy.

Estimates suggest that women’s contribution to the GDP is between 35 to 45 percent. The successes can be attributed to the establishment of the Department of Women situated in the Presidency.

The purpose of the department is among other things, to lead, coordinate and oversee the transformation agenda on women’s socio-economic empowerment, rights and equality through mainstreaming, monitoring and evaluation. – SAnews.gov.za







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