SA ranks 3rd in women representation in Parliament

Monday, May 4, 2009
By: 
Chris Bathembu

Pretoria - South Africa has soared from 17th place to 3rd position in the global ranking of women in Parliament following the 22 April elections.

Speaking during a meeting of the National Gender Machinery (NGM) on Monday, Minister in the Presidency Dr Manto Tshabalala-Msimang said Government was proud of South Africa's achievements in the election as far as representation is concerned.

"This translates to an 11 percent increase in representation of women in the national assembly from 34 percent to 45 percent. South Africa is now only behind Rwanda at 56 percent and Sweden at 47 percent," the minister said, quoting statistics according to the latest information from Genderlinks.

The organisation derived these figures from the official IEC lists of members of parliament. It says that while names are not disaggregated by sex, Gender Links verified all names in which sex is not self evident to ensure the accuracy of the information.

Minister Tshabalala-Msimang said the increase of women in the national assembly to 45 percent was a remarkable feature for women in the country given that prior to 1994 there was only 2.7 percent women in Parliament. In 1994, it stood at 27 percent and fifteen years later it stands at 45 percent.

At the provincial level, women's representation increased from 30 percent to 43 percent after the April election.

The minister further congratulated Limpopo which tops the list with some 53 percent of seats in the legislature being occupied by women.

"We must congratulate the Limpopo province which has achieved a 53 percent representation of women, surpassing the South African Development Community (SADC) parity target," the minister said.

A further cause for celebration was that women comprised 55 percent of registered voters during the recent election.

The minister told delegates from several gender-based organisations that while a lot has been achieved to champion the representation of women in political leadership, government needs to commit to the set target of 50/50 gender parity.

"We look forward to the announcement of the new Cabinet, the establishment of the new parliaments and to the inauguration of the new president," Dr Tshabalala-Msimang said.