Parties urged to include more women candidates

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Pretoria - Political parties should ensure equitable representation of women as candidates for the local government elections when they finalise their candidate lists, says Minister for Women, Children and People with Disabilities Lulu Xingwana.

Parties need to submit their candidate lists to the Independent Electoral Commission by Friday.

The minister noted that women consistently constitute the majority of registered voters in the voters' roll and party candidate lists should reflect equitable representation of women at this sphere of government.

"Statistics from 2009 general elections registration shows that 55 percent of registered voters were women, including the recent voter registration that reflects women as the majority. Therefore, it is imperative for the political parties to continuously empower women, including people with disabilities and recognise that they constitute the majority of South Africans as indicated," she said.

Xingwana added that the statistics were a welcome demonstration of active interest and participation of women in the elections, which was a crucial component of democracy in South Africa.

While acknowledging significant progress made by the country in increasing women political representation -- with women currently constituting 44 percent of Members of Parliament, 43 percent in Cabinet and 40 percent of councilors at local government -- Xingwana believes that the local government elections provide a great opportunity for the country to advance towards 50/50 gender parity at this sphere of government.

She also reminded political parties of their responsibility to contribute towards gender equality, warning that the composition of the candidate lists will demonstrate their perceptions regarding the role of women in leadership and development in the country.