SA placed 3rd in world for women representation

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Pretoria - Ministers responsible for Gender and Women Affairs in the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) have commended South Africa for being placed third in the world in terms of women representation in Parliament.

The SADC Ministers for Gender and Women Affairs met in Johannesburg on Thursday to review progress made in improving the status of women in the region.

SADC has a target of achieving 50/50 representation of women in politics and decision-making positions by 2015.

After the general elections in April this year, the number of women in the South African National Parliament increased from 34 percent to 45 percent.

According the Department Women, Children and Persons with Disabilities, this represents an 11 percent increase which has pushed South Africa from number 17 to the third position in the global ranking of women in Parliament, after Rwanda which is at 56 percent and Sweden at 47 percent.

South African women representation at the level of the ministers stands at 42 percent and at Deputy Ministerial level, it is 39 percent.

Speaking at the meeting, South African Minister for Women, Children and Persons with Disabilities, Noluthando Mayende-Sibiya, said much of the progress in gender representation in politics had been as a result of the decision of the ruling party to adopt the principle of 50/50 gender parity.

"Had other political parties represented in our Parliament adopted the same SADC principle of 50 percent women representation, South Africa could have achieved even more," said Minister Mayende-Sibiya.

The SADC ministers' meeting also considered the SADC draft Plan of Action on Combating Human Trafficking.

Mayende-Sibiya reported to the meeting that South Africa had developed a Bill dealing with human trafficking which has already been approved Cabinet and will be considered by Parliament.

She said the government of South Africa acknowledged that there was still a lot of work to be done to improve the status of women in both the public and the private sector in our region.

"There is still a long way to go in achieving substantial progress in the economic empowerment of women in our region. Women are still carrying the heaviest burden of HIV and AIDS which is affecting our region the most.

"Maternal deaths and child mortality remain at an unacceptably high level affecting many development indicators including the efforts to achieve Millennium Development Goals," said Mayende-Sibiya