South Africa women come together
30 Aug 2012
Women from all over the country, from different sectors of society and from all races put their differences aside to celebrate Women’s Month by attending Women’s Parliament today.
With the theme “Mainstreaming Gender Equality in all Sectors of the South African Society”, the event was organised by Parliament. Three topics – the participation and involvement of women in the mainstream economy, the proposed Women Empowerment and Gender Equality Bill, and the implications for women of the Traditional Courts Bill – were up for discussion.
National Assembly Deputy Speaker Ms Nomaindia Mfeketo said one of the biggest challenges facing women was the gendered nature of racial discrimination, the status of women in a class society and the position of women in a patriarchal world.
“Despite the challenges we are yet to overcome, we are proud as a country for the many ground-breaking achievements we have made in the past 18 years in terms of gender relations.”
She emphasised that South Africa had some of the most progressive policies aimed at advancing women empowerment and gender equality. “We have to make sure that the decisive voices of women across political lines come through. We have to ensure that the outcomes have an impact on those ordinary women who from 1994 have elected women as their representatives in Parliament,” she said.
Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development Mr Jeff Radebe made a presentation on the controversial Traditional Courts Bill and its implications for women. He said he was not aware of any intention to withdraw the Bill from Parliament. “Doing so will not only interrupt the vibrant discourse occurring in Parliament that will shape the end product of the Bill, but will also allow the department to redraft another Bill somewhere in a dark corner of its corridors, away from the public eye.”
He stressed that the Bill did not seek to establish traditional courts, but rather to regulate the environment within which such courts ought to operate. “The current abuses experienced in some traditional communities are as a result of the absence of a comprehensive and effective regulatory and legislative framework which the Traditional Courts Bill seeks to address, in accordance with constitutional imperatives,” he said.
According to Mr Radebe, an inter-departmental team has started formulating concrete ideas on the Bill based on the public comments made. He said he would canvass the views of fellow Cabinet Ministers Lulu Xingwana and Gugile Nkwinti before making an informed input to Parliament.
Ms Xingwana said women’s voices could not be properly heard in traditional courts and added that there were concerns about the lack of women presiding officers in such courts. On the Women’s Empowerment and Gender Equality Bill, she indicated a clause in the Bill will compel political parties to have a 50/50 representation if they wanted to qualify for seats in Parliament. The Electoral Act will be amended to achieve this.
Issued by: Parliament of South Africa
30 Aug 2012
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