Shared Priorities with Commission on Gender Equality and the Women’s Empowerment Unit

Meeting Summary

A summary of this committee meeting is not yet available.

Meeting report

13 March 2002

Ms P Govender (ANC)

Relevant Documents:
Areas of co-operation and plan of action of the Commission on Gender Equality with Parliamentary Joint Committee, OSW and Women’s Empowerment Unit (Appendix 1)
Notice: Male MPs launching a programme (Appendix 2)
Committee Report on How Best Can Sa Address The Horrific Impact Of Hiv / Aids On Women And Girls?


The Committee met with the Commission on Gender Equality and the Women’s Empowerment Unit in order to focus on areas of co-operation. They will be working together on a Women's Budget workshop aimed at reinstating this budget. The Committee will be involved in a provincial outreach during the Easter constituency period from 9 - 19 April in order to deepen understanding of its Committee Report on HIV/AIDS and gender violence and to obtain feedback on this.

Commission on Gender Equality

Ms Gertrude Fester, CGE Commissioner, referred to the Commission’s strategic planning meeting in January 2002, where they had outlined eight strategic objectives listed in the document.   

The three priorities listed in the document namely,  Women and Poverty, HIV/AIDS and Violence against Women, were issues agreed to at the Gender Summit held last year.

While reading through the strategic objectives, she noted the following points:
Objective 1:
She was not sure whether it should state “effective gender monitoring mechanisms” or “effective women monitoring mechanisms”. The Committee chairperson, Ms Govender, suggested that “gender” be retained.

Objective 3:
She noted that they had had four or five good meetings with the Office on the Status of Woman and commented that they are doing good work.

Objective 5
She said that the women’s movement would be strengthened by collaboration with men’s organisations.

Objectives 6-8:
These objectives relate to internal issues of the Commission such as problems with funding.      

The Commissioner referred to the commitments emerging from the National Gender Summit involving the Commission on Gender Equality, this parliamentary committee and the Office on the Status of Women as self explanatory and that she would not read them out.

Ms Fester then turned to Some Aspects of CGE National Programme and noted the following: 
- with regard to the fifth anniversary of the Constitution, she said that there is a challenge for people to become acquainted with the contents of the Constitution, especially women;
- it is concerning to see that there is no funding for aged women, this can be very frustrating;
- the CGE is an alternative forum to address unfair discrimination under the Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act. The CGE does not have funding for that and has written to the Department regarding this.

Thereafter, Ms Fester read out the points listed under the sub-heading, Western Cape Proposal for Programme of Action 2002-2003, in the document.

The Chairperson proposed that in the discussion, they should focus on areas of collaboration and make concrete suggestions around these things. That in making these suggestions, they need to bear in mind the three priorities (Women and Poverty/Economy, HIV/AIDS, Violence against Women), as these were the areas agreed upon at the Gender Summit. She asked the Committee to focus on the first five of the Commission’s objectives.

Ms Govender mentioned that the Committee will hold a symposium the following week in order to get an initiative off the ground whereby male MPs will become involved in educating men and boys around reducing HIV/AIDS and violence against women.  This should not be a once-off event, but should be a continuous programme that would report back to Parliament. They would need to ensure that groups that are already active, should be included in the men's initiative to  rally around women’s issues.

The Chairperson mentioned that during recess, their Committee will be having provincial workshops for the purpose of sharing the work of the Committee around gender-based violence and to consult on the recommendations arising from the report on women and HIV/AIDS.  As this Committee has limited resources, it would be a one-day workshop in each province catering for 75 people.

The Commissioner will send contact numbers of men's organisations in order for the Committee to work in collaboration with these organisations and will see how they can also cooperate.

Ms S Botha (DP) said that cooperation with government departments is important for the workshops.

The Chairperson agreed that it is important to target and include government departments, men’s organisations, NGOs and CBOs working in the area of HIV/AIDS, the Public Service sector and religious organisations. The provincial workshops would be strategic in that they will target organisations that in turn would target their members and the public at large.

Ms Botha (DP) asked whether it would be possible to follow up on some judicial cases involving violence against women.

Ms Fester made mention of a case where a woman, who had been raped, appealed against a decision taken in the Lower Courts where her lack of virginity had been cited as a reason for a reduced sentence. The Commission had tried to follow up on this but still did not have a response as to what had happened to the case.

The Commissioner said that the Committee should find out from the relevant judges whether there has been an appeal against this case.

The Chairperson believed that the CGE being an independent body should rather follow up on that issue, as there is a line between the legislature and the judiciary.

The Commissioner made mention that they want to work with NEPAD and the African Union.

Ms Ntlabati (ANC) said that despite gender activists and the protocol exercised by the African Union and NEPAD in saying that there should be at least one female delegate, there are still structures at national level that do not include women in all delegations. She added that it is imperative that this protocol be revisited.  

Ms Witbooi (NNP) noted that some committees have had presentations on NEPAD.

The Chairperson asked for clarity around the work of NEPAD on gender issues. Had there been a systematic gender analysis of NEPAD?

Ms September noted a presentation made the previous day to the Trade and Industry Portfolio Committee where the Department was asked to report on what they had done with regards to Beijing and where reference to NEPAD was made.  She urged the Committee to follow up on issues mentioned at that meeting.

Ms Maloney (ANC) said that instead of the Committee calling in all the various departments, they should rather call the Director General of Foreign Affairs to brief the Committee on the issue of delegations and the breaching of protocol. The departments see and apply gender equity differently in accordance with the needs of the department itself.

The Committee agreed to the Chairperson’s suggestion that the Women’s Empowerment Unit should present as the current discussion would possibly overlap with that presentation.  She asked the speaker to focus on areas of co-operation in terms of shared priorities.

Women’s Empowerment Unit
Ms K. Nyama, the Chair of the Unit and Deputy Speaker of Northern Province/Limpopo, explained that the Women’s Empowerment Unit is a project of the Speaker’s Forum and its goal is to ensure that there is empowerment to achieve gender equality. This forum works with all legislative institutions in the country. The Unit has been funded by SIDA but these funds will end in September. They do however have alternative funding but this is on a small scale. 

Some of their result areas had been: skills development of women and constituent outreach;  parliamentary women working on gender equality;  looking at legislation and the budget through a gender lens; and equipping women around office administration. 

The presenter admitted that they were unable to use the funds sufficiently up until 1999, but had made studies around certain issues and run workshops. The result was that SIDA withdrew half their funding. Speakers have now recommitted themselves and the present speakers are dedicated to the issues facing women. There has been skills training around administration, public speaking, minute-taking, speed writing, report writing. 

Not all provinces are working well. Ms Nyama said that they have to understand that not all provinces are at the same level. Although they are a liberated new government, it does not necessarily follow that there is gender equity in government.  With this year’s budget, they are going to have workshops around gender issues as it does not necessarily follow that just because you are working within a legislature, that you understand women’s issues.  Provinces wanted the Joint Monitoring Committee to give them more direct support in order for them to start similar committees in the provinces. She appealed to the Committee to engage with the provinces on this issue.

She stated her concern for the need for alternative funds for the National Women’s Empowerment Unit after September.  She added that at international conferences, she feels embarrassed when reference is made to South Africa having a Women's Budget when she knows that it is no longer the case and the provinces have no support.

The Chairperson responded that Ms Nyama should not feel embarrassed and she should correct the misperception at these international conferences.  A Women’s Budget was put in place during 1998/1999, but it is no longer in the Budget Review.  They should look at how to get the Women's Budget back - for how else are gender-based issues and problems going to be addressed? She noted the modest budget allocation for this Committee.  The Committee therefore struggles. She stated that the Women’s Forum should not lose hope even though funding is going to be officially withdrawn at the end of September - they can still do something. 

The Chairperson again mentioned the initiative being held the following week where MPs will be mobilised around the three priorities: Women and Poverty/Economy, HIV/AIDS, Violence against Women.  The Committee’s intention is for this not to be a once-off thing, but to be a continuous educational endeavour. She noted that unfortunately the Committee does not have enough resources to publicise this workshop, bur will send letters out to all male MPs.  During recess it is the intention of this Committee to have a workshop in Parliament were all nine provinces will be present, with the aim to empower provinces and strengthen the women's movement by sharing around women’s issues and the budget and so that they could all move from one base.

Ms S. Ntlabati (ANC) wanted clarity on this joint endeavour in terms of priority areas.

Ms Fester noted that the Commission has funds for provincial workshops and she suggested that perhaps it could contribute to the Budget workshops in conjunction with Women’s Unit and the Committee.

Ms Nyama agreed, in that one of their focus areas would be AIDS/HIV and that provinces also get funding now with regard thereto.  She said that the Women’s Unit would be having an inter-provincial meeting around the same period as the Committee's workshop and they have not decided on where to hold that yet.  If they were to have their meeting in Cape Town, they could meet the following day with the Committee. In so doing they could work on how to resuscitate the Women’s Budget.  In addressing the Budget, all the other issues spoken about here could be addressed.

Ms S Ntlabati (ANC) suggested that they clearly unpack the role of parliamentarians around HIV/AIDS at this workshop.

The Chairperson commented that the workshops are going to be educative and have a participatory research component as well.  She said that it would be very useful exercise to target people with influence within the legislatures and at provincial and local level and to see how people take this back to their structures and implement this. This would be a great opportunity for  working with the Unit practically to explore how provinces can also implement similar committees to the Joint Monitoring Committee.

Ms Maine (ANC) expressed great concern that there had been funding available but the Women’s Empowerment Unit could not use it effectively.  However, she said that this collaboration is a start and in their joint workshops they will be able to educate each other.

The Chairperson commented that the Committee has tried to access funds from Parliament but was not yet able to do so.  This Committee does not even have a researcher who could access the information as to where funding could be acquired.  This joint workshop should be used as an opportunity to make sure that this does not happen again.

Ms Nyama noted that in their province they do not have the provincial equivalent of this Committee.    

The Chairperson said that this Committee has gone into partnership with NGOs and counselling centres and had looked at what each one was doing.  One of the suggestions was for there to be a workshop for rural women around relevant laws such as the Maintenance Act.

Ms Nyama commented that her province is very patriarchal in outlook and this Committee would have received complaints about the fact that the province is not implementing these policies and laws.  

Dr Roopermain asked what happens if the SIDA funding is not reinstated. Could they not go back to the funders and ask for their support once again?

Ms Nyama replied that they are too ashamed to ask. She expressed the wish that South Africa services itself. There is lots of money - when is the business sector going to start assisting?  What about funding from Lotto? They are looking at all such options.  She said that there is going to be an International Conference which is already partly funded. They want a small delegation of about ten and that they will need this Committee’s assistance.

The Chairperson replied that they will definitely have the Committee’s support. She noted that the women's movement is strong but there is a need for national co-ordination. She suggested that the Unit's strategic conference would perhaps provide the opportunity to have a big thrust to our work with common priorities, thinking and programmes.  The most common problem is material and human resources and the need for their effective utilisation.  The Committee needs to know exactly what type of assistance is required which she expects will be set out in the letter to the Committee. Regarding the following week's male MPs symposium, perhaps the Unit could start a rolling action in all provinces. They also need to look at re-instating the Women's Budget with input from both national and provincial structures. It would be useful to have a national workshop like that in April with a view to the Budget hearings coming up.

The Committee report on “How best to address impact of HIV/AIDS on women and girls" should be widely canvassed in the provinces.

Ms Nyama asked whether it would be possible for this Committee to address each province as this will also benefit the implementation of legislation.

The Chairperson said that the Committee would happily do this.

Ms Nyama said that if the Committee was going to address each province, they would need funding for travelling and hotel accommodation.

The Chairperson concluded that if they could arrange for both, then that will be very helpful;  and that they will see what resources they could mobilise.

Appendix 1:
13 March 2002


· Women and Poverty/Economy
· Violence against Women

Develop effective gender monitoring mechanisms for public and private institutions to ensure appropriate implementation of gender-sensitive policies, programmes and strategies:
· Women's access to justice
· Standardisation of monitoring tools
· Protection and promotion of gender equality
· Re-activate engendered budgets in collaboration with National Machinery
· Implementation and monitoring of gender budgets

Ensure effective co-ordination and alignment between and within national and provincial programmes taking into account provincial dynamics and equity.

Ensure gender equity and gender mainstreaming in government departments through the effective positioning of gender focal points at all levels of government in collaboration with national gender machinery.

Create strategic linkages national, regionally and internationally to ensure mutual support, effective collaboration and the recognition for the need to promote and protect gender equality
· Collaboration around the international instruments
· Marketing the work/mandate of the CGE
· Women living in situations of conflict (linkages with African Peace Talks initiated by Dep. Minister Madladla-Routledge

Re-Energise the women's movement and liase with men's movements in order to effect democracy and gender equality
· Collaborate with Men's Movement
· Deal collaboratively with organizations working against violence against women

To develop a solid and sustainable funding strategy that ensures adequate allocation by government as well as supplementary funding from donor agencies and the private sector

Internal processes (Systems and procedures)

Human Resources and Capacity Building

Commitments Emerging From The National Gender Summit
With reference to the formal outcomes arising from the National Gender Summit the following commitments were made:

1. Commission on Gender Equality (CGE)

1.1        Engendering the budget
To conduct workshops on the process of engendering budgets, for
· CGE commissioners, followed by
· Workshops in communities
Campaigning for an engendered budget with particular reference to violence against women, including working with the Office on the Status on Women concerning their role in government departments, e.g.:
· Correctional Services
· Safety and Security
· Justice
· Social Development and Welfare
Supporting the transformation of financial institutions, with reference to the CGE's mandate.

1.2        Developing monitoring tools
This will include the finalisation of
· Annual report cards; and
· The private sector report.

1.3        Following-up
The Poverty Hearing recommendations
The Legislative Audit.
To be followed by work on
· the Sexual Offences Act with the Coalition of NGOs, e.g. SWEAT, Molo Songololo, the Women's Legal Centre, and civil society;
· the Maputo Corridor;
· a media visibility campaign;
· the new education curriculum;
· the HIV/AIDS hearings;
· the Men's Movement;
· the transformation of our traditional leadership;
· the working conditions of domestic workers; and
· violence against women

1.4        Strengthening relationships, with
Provincial partners and
Civil society

1.5        Lobbying
Concerning the low budget allocation to the CGE; and discrimination affecting the CGE

2. Parliamentary Joint Monitoring Committee on the Improvement of the Quality of Life and Status of Women (QoL)

2.1        Engendering the Budget, by
Lobbying to re-instate Gender Budget planning, policy and implementation;
Hold meetings with Ministers and the Office on the Status of Women (OSW);
Consulting with Statistics SA on the development of required disaggregated information;
Holding Ministerial hearings on progress with the engendering of government department budgets

2.2        Legislation
Following up the laws that the QoL committee prioritised, which have not yet been enacted, vis
· customary law on inheritance and succession;
· sexual offences law; and
· unemployment Insurance Fund benefits to meet the needs of women, especially domestic workers;
Lobbying for adequate resources to implement laws, such as the
· Domestic Violence Act
· Maintenance Act; and
· Equity legislation

2.3        Holding hearings on HIV/AIDS, to
Address the impact on women;
Influence government policies and resources for prevention and treatment; and
Assess civil society's and the international experience

2.4        Meeting with Ministers on:
Land reform and agriculture;
The National Policy Framework for Women's Empowerment arid Gender Equality; and
An audit and an action plan

2.5 Reporting:
On the drawing up an independent report on the government's implementation of CEDAW and the Beijing Platform for Action

In all of the above, to continue to work with our partners in the National Gender Machinery, viz, civil society, the OSW and the CGE.

3.         The Office on the Status of Women

3.1 Coordination Framework
Working actively towards an internal and external Coordination Framework. This is a key mechanism to ensure effective
· coordination;
· facilitation and
· monitoring
of the National Gender Machinery

3.2 National Gender Action Plan
Developing a comprehensive National Gender Action Plan that will activate the principles of South Africa's National Policy Framework for Women's Empowerment and Gender Equality.
Through this process, to seek to integrate the partners of the National Gender Machinery, prioritising
· women and poverty;
· a rural strategy;
· women and the economy; and
· violence against women

3.3 National Reports
Working towards the development of national reports to ensure an integrated approach by the partners of the National Gender Machinery-


· 5th Anniversary of Constitution - with Chapter 9 Institutions
· One Million Women's March - 9th August
· International Conference - Aged Women
· NOWCA (National Organization of Women against Children Abuse)
· Legislation (currently Islamic Marriages and Related Matters)
· Meetings with Judges and Lawyers
· Meetings with OSW - Training of Public Servants - compulsory unit on Gender and Gender Mainstreaming (Cf. PFMA is compulsory for FOSAT)
· Working with Men's Organizations - Men's March
· Alternative Forum - The Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act 4 of 2000



· Gender Dialogue - Women of Faith -An analysis of Patriarchy in our various Faiths and to what extent practices and policies reinforce and/or perpetuate the subordination of Women (Theme- Violence against Women) 15 March

· Workshop - Beneficiaries' Reportback. Provincial Departmental reps invited as observers - 25 March


1. Consultative Workshop/Campaign- Pooling our Resources and Energies Women against Violence against Women
· How do we consolidate and strengthen our work of the past 30 years?
· What are the gaps?
· Why does Violence against Women seem to be on the increase?
· What empirical data exists to support this statement?
· What research exists and how do we act on it? Research - Virgin Sex Myth (with MRC?)

2. Maintenance - What are the Problems?
In Partnership with the Dept of Justice (Adv Hishaam Mohammed).
Women's Access to Justice- Presidential Pardon (with Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation).

3. Reportback - World Conference against Racism - Taking forward the Resolutions/SANGOCO (Grail international coalition against Racism)

4. The Gender Summit Reportback plus discussion of concrete plans for Implementation - National Gender Machinery making it work at a national Level and on the Ground. (proposal in partnership with Joint Parliamentary Committee on Improvement of Life and Status of Women)

5. 50/50 Campaign - in partnership with Gender Advocacy Project

6. BIG CAMPAIGN - (Basic Income Grant) - in partnership with Cosatu, Black Sash, GAP, SACC, SANE, CLC-UWC and others.

7. Rural Women's Day - In conjunction with Southern Cape Land Committee and to approach Women on Farms Project to be part of it as well - 16 October

8. What is the Role of Men in the Empowerment of Women and the Eradication of Violence against Women? (December 2002 as part of action of 16 Days of Activism against Women) in partnership with SA New Economics and Five out of Six Men's Organization. (2003)

9. Annual Report Card - National 7 departments - Economic Cluster Provincial- Finance, Education, Health, Social Services and Poverty Alleviation and Community Safety (to coincide with priorities)

10.        BookFest 2004

11.        World Summit on Sustainable Development


13. 350 years of Reformed Traditions and Christianity in South Africa - What does for Women?

14. 2003 Proposal initiating a Formal Institution - Building Women's Leadership -in collaboration with National Gender Machinery. (Can be assisted by Centre for American Women and Politics, Rutgers University, New Brunswick)

Umtapo - wa - Bomake Women's Resource Centre
P0 Box 3573, Manzini, The Kingdom of Swaziland, Africa

email: Tel: (268) 505577112  Fax: 5055771

The Chairperson
Ms. Joyce P. Seroka
Commission for Gender Equality
R. S. A.

Fax no (011) 403 7188

Dear Madam,


The above matter refers.

Umtapo wabo Make is a women’s organisation whose mission is gender equality and promotion of political, economic and social-cultural equality.

Swazi women suffer legal impediments with regards to land acquisition, access to credit, employment and right to education. In an effort at alleviating their problems, Umtapo wabo Make runs programmes for training women in business management and community development, in order to make them self-sufficient or independent. It also helps women gain access to financial loans,

Despite more than 10 years of lobbying arid advocacy for women’s rights, little has been done by the Swaziland government to this end. Beginning from this year, Swaziland will be drafting a new constitution. However, individuals (and not organisations) will be allowed to make submissions to the Constitution Review Commission.

Therefore, we are appealing to your commission to advise us on ways of lobbying and advocacy for the entrenchment of women's rights in the constitution and other relevant legislation.

Kindly furnish us with a date on which we could meet you to discuss the above-mentioned matter.

Thanking you in advance.

Yours Faithfully

Appendix 2:
Date /Datum:    19 March 2002

Symposium: To develop a programme around male MPs launching a programme to mobilise and educate men on their role in decreasing the spread of HIV Aids and ending gender based violence through respecting the rights, especially the sexual rights, of women and girls


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