Govt to facilitate processes dealing with gender equality

Friday, February 6, 2009

Parliament - Government is to facilitate the processes aimed at strengthening the machineries dealing with matters of gender equality such as 50/50 representation in decision-making structures.

Delivering the State of the Nation Address during a joint sitting in Parliament on Friday, President Kgalema Motlanthe said in the coming few months pending on the national and provincial elections, government will endeavour to complete that particular mandate.

"As part of the many detailed projects contained in the government's Programme of Action, we will pay particular attention to facilitating the processes aimed at strengthening the machineries dealing with matters of gender equality such as 50/50 representation in decision-making structures," the President said.

He said these included youth development, the rights of people with disabilities and children's rights.

"Including completing consultations on the National Youth Policy and preparing for the implementation of the African Youth Charter once it has been processed by Parliament.

"These and other programmes, including the Apex Priorities identified in the State of the Nation Address last February, form the bedrock of our efforts to conclude the popular mandate and lay the foundation for the future," he said.

Currently, South Africa is seventh in the world in terms of representation of women in the legislature.

Women make up 42.8 percent of the positions at Cabinet level, 33 percent at the legislature level and 34.4 percent at the Public Service level.

Speaking at the Gender Machinery consultative meeting in December last year, Minister in the Presidency, Dr Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, said women constituted the majority of the population and therefore they should be included when decisions concerning economic, social, political or developmental issues were made.

The meeting was held by the minister to encourage debate around sustaining South Africa's drive for equal representation of women in decision-making positions in politics ahead of the country's 2009 elections.

"Increasing the number of women in decision-making positions can contribute to the upliftment of women in general," said the minister at the time, adding that one should rather speak of gender parity, which goes beyond merely the number of women in decision-making positions

Meanwhile, 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 will be tasked with advocating women's rights, providing leadership in domesticating international conventions as well as leading policy formulation.

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

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