Cabinet to consider concept paper on Women's Ministry

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Pretoria - A concept paper for the establishment of a Ministry for Women and Gender Affairs is to be presented to Cabinet for consideration.

A task team made up of women from government and non-government organisations (NGOs) is expected to finalise the concept paper next week and present it to Cabinet by the end of the month.

The proposal to establish a women's ministry which will be tasked with advocating women's rights, providing leadership in domesticating international conventions as well as leading policy formulation emanated from a two-day National Gender Machinery meeting in Pretoria.

During the meeting the Office on the Status of Women presented a draft of the concept paper which then served as the base document, guiding discussions on the establishment of the ministry.

The themes covered in the paper include milestones in the struggle for women's emancipation and gender equality both in South Africa and internationally.

Talks also centred around the name and location of the women's ministry, its mandate and what programmes would fall under it.

Names that were proposed included the Ministry of Women and Gender Affairs, Children, Youth, People with Disabilities or the Ministry of Women and Gender Affairs located in the Presidency.

Minister in the Presidency, Dr Manto Tshabalala-Msimang said the ministry, which will drive women's empowerment and the transformation of gender relations, would be located in the Presidency but that it would have its own accounting officer and development focus.

"The ministry's powers and functions will include policy and legislation, planning coordination, advocacy, programme implementation in areas such as poverty, managing South Africa's international relations and reporting on women and gender and also has its own deputy director," Minister Tshabalala-Msimang said.

She emphasised the urgency of finalising the paper. "We will try our best to complete the document by month-end and submit it to Cabinet."

The meeting was attended by about 120 delegates from government departments including deputy ministers, traditional leaders, African Women in Dialogue, representatives from the Commission for Gender Equality, Progressive Women's Movement of South Africa, People Opposing Women Abuse and Gender Advocacy Programme and SA Law Reform Commission.