National Gender Machinery to launch 50/50 national campaign

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Parliament - The National Gender Machinery will on Thursday launch its 50/50 national campaign with the aim of increasing equal representation of women in decision-making positions.

The event will be hosted by the Joint Monitoring Committee on the Improvement to the Quality of Life and Status of Women.

Addressing the national assembly on Wednesday, Minister in the Presidency Dr Manto Tshabalala-Msimang said the national campaign was envisaged to work towards reaching the 2014 target of having equal representation of women in decision making structures.

She urged all MPs to carefully scrutinise their election lists to ensure equal representation.

"We are again reminded that such processes requires adequate funding and full support and commitment by the political leadership which will then cascade into the administrative and governance spheres of society, at all levels and in all sectors, including the private and corporate world," she said.

In line with the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Protocol on Gender and Development that South Africa signed recently, all SADC Member States will embark on national campaigns on the 50/50 representation of women.

Speaking during a two-day NGM meeting held recently, Minister Tshabalala-Msimang said women constituted the majority of the population and should therefore be included when decisions concerning economic, social, political or developmental were made.

"Women constitute the majority of the population and this is sufficient to dictate women's inclusion in all decisions concerning them whether it is economic, social, political or developmental," said the minister.

Minister Tshabalala-Msimang said currently the numbers did not guarantee equal representation in terms of women's empowerment and gender equality in South Africa.

She noted that government had set a target of a 50 percent representation in all decision-making positions but women made up only 42.8 percent of the positions at Cabinet level, 33 percent at the legislature level and 34.4 percent at the Public Service level.

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

"We are in the phase of preparing ourselves for elections in 2009. We need to strategise now and have a clear vision and position as a country, with a concrete plan of action and time frame."

She said that women needed to question what they could do differently to ensure that the country was on track towards achieving gender parity and the 50/50 representation of women in political positions.

Ms Tshabalala-Msimang further challenged the Gender Machinery to put in place measures to drive the process in the private sector which had not been reporting great progress.