Consultative Meeting of National Gender Machinery: report-back by Office on Status of Women; Cedaw Study Report by Masimanyane

Meeting Summary

A summary of this committee meeting is not yet available.

Meeting report


8 May 2002

Ms MP Themba (Deputy Chairperson)

Documents handed out:
Report of the Mini Consultative Meeting of the National Gender Machinery
CEDAW Study Report

The Office on Status of Women spoke to its Report of the Mini Consultative Meeting of the National Gender Machinery held in April in Pretoria. Masimanyane presented the findings and recommendations of the CEDAW study report as commissioned by the Committee.

Report of the Mini Consultative Meeting of the National Gender Machinery: briefing by Office on Status of Women
Ms Susan Nkomo briefed the Committee on the Report of the Mini Consultative Meeting of the National Gender Machinery held on 11/12 April 2002 at Farm Inn in Pretoria [See Report].

Ms P Govender (ANC) had several questions. She asked what the OSW had identified as its key role and objectives. She suggested that each piece of legislation submitted to Cabinet should include a gender impact statement and wanted to know what role the OSW could play in that regard. She asked what had happened to the Gender Audit. She remarked that the national gender machinery was weakening. The CEDAW Optional Protocol needed to come before parliament and she asked what was happening and where it was at the moment.
She expressed her appreciation of the OSW's gender critique of New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD). She wanted to know about OSW monitoring of government and the whereabouts of the National Gender Policy and what could be expected in that regard.

In reply, Ms Nkomo said it was difficult for her to answer the questions. Nonetheless with regard to the question on OSW's key role and objectives, Ms Nkomo explained that role to be advising government to fulfil its gender role and how to deal with its shortcomings. She pointed out though the fact that there was an institutional mechanism to compel compliance.

With regard to the question on gender and cabinet processes, she said the OSW had made a recommendation to the effect that there should be a gender category in the memorandum of each piece of legislation. She added that there was resistance from the Secretariat about that when it was recommended to them. She said the Secretariat instead asked for guidance.

Ms Nkomo noted that the Gender Audit had been made with recommendations about what departments could do and about the relationship between the Directors-General and Gender Accountability Programs. She said the recommendations were clear. The responsibility was now with the Directors-General to play their role. She said that the Audit had recommended a process through which government clusters could measure the performance of Directors-General in respect of promoting gender in their respective areas. To that, she said there had been no follow-up yet. She also expressed her frustration about a lack of authority over structures dealing with gender in different departments and provinces. She said that there was no incentive for those structures to report to the OSW. All the OSW could do was to advise - but those structures had sole decision-making powers on their programs. She accused the provincial structures of not wanting listen to what came from the national structures. She also cautioned that unless there were gender missionaries in each government department, OSW would not succeed.

Ms Nkomo explained that the National Gender Policy was now a National Policy following its approval by Cabinet in December 2001. She said it should be treated as such.

On the CEDAW Optional Protocol question, Ms Nkomo made it clear that there was problem with the Protocol per se. The main hiccup with the Protocol was the issue of financial implications in ratifying this. The main argument within government was that if there were such implications, then there was no point in signing it. She said OSW had felt hard done by when that happened. However, she said that they had now been encouraged to re-submit.

Ms Irene Mutsila (ANC) commented and said that it was of vital importance to have input from NGOs. Referring to Ms Nkomo's statement in her presentation that the NGOs had not made input during the OSW's Gender Consultation, she wanted to know if OSW had encouraged written submissions from NGO's.

In her reply, Ms Nkomo said that it was difficult to work with individual NGOs. She commented that saying after consulting one or two NGOs, that 'they had consulted NGOs' would be a misrepresentation. She said OSW had therefore suggested a need for the existence of an umbrella body of NGOs dealing with gender.

Ms Joyce Moloi wanted to know about the linkage between the process of sustainable development and that of measuring impact. Commenting on what Ms Nkomo indicated as reasons for the weakening of the gender machinery - among others, the status of Gender Focal Points - Ms Moloi stressed the need for the co-ordination of the impact the different gender structures were having within government, whether it was in national departments or provinces. She said it difficult but the OSW must devise a way of turning the current situation around. She encouraged the OSW to keep on fighting and not throw in the towel.

Mrs Joyce Roali commented that the status of the provincial gender structures was worrying. She noted, in connection with NEPAD, that there was a conference in Nairobi. She wondered why South Africa was not represented. She suggested that the committee needed to invite the Minister in the Office of the Presidency to comment on the issues raised by OSW.

In her reply, Ms Nkomo agreed with Ms Moloi on the co-ordination issue. She said there was a need to look at structural aspects and make them to be more systematic.

A committee member, referring to the problem of co-ordination of provinces and national structures, wanted to know what the OSW was doing about the problem.

Ms Nkomo responded by explaining that they held periodic meetings with the provincial and national structures on thematic issues. And that they also assisted the provinces when they wanted assistance. She also mentioned that there was a three-year course they were doing with the University of Pretoria to assist particularly the provincial structures. However they had had a problem with Gender Focal Points. When meetings were arranged, not all Gender Focal Points attended them.

Ms Themba added her voice and lamented the weakening of the gender machinery. She suggested that national action was needed to deal with this problem. She also suggested that the Committee should call a meeting with the Minister in the Office of the Presidency.

Ms Nkomo stressed the fact that the provinces had no problem in attending meetings but the problem was with the Gender Focal Points at national level.

Ms Govender said the Minister of Public Service must be consulted on the issue of weakening gender structures and be asked to deal with the issue of performance measuring in different government departments. She also suggested that the Committee should table a motion to the effect that any piece of legislation including that from the Finance Ministry must include a comprehensive gender memorandum. If did not have one, it would be rejected. Ms Themba added that the motion should be sent to both Houses.

Ms Maloney (ANC) suggested a meeting with the Director-General of Public Service on what they were doing with regard to gender policy and performance within the Department.

In conclusion Ms Govender asked if everybody supported the issue of a motion. The verdict was a yes.

CEDAW study report: briefing by Masimanyane
Ms Govender explained that Masimanyane had been commissioned by the Committee to do a CEDAW study report on five provinces: Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape, Western Cape and Free State. The reason for choosing only five provinces was said to be due to the Committee's financial constraints. This CEDAW study report would later form part of the Committee's report to parliament and would definitely strengthen that Committee report.

In her presentation, Mrs Lesley Ann Foster focussed on the main findings and recommendations of the study. [See document]

Mrs Ntuli (ANC) commended Masimanyane on the study report. She was concerned by the feedback on men's attitudes to women and suggested a public education campaign directed at men. She said women's lives were being made difficult by men who did not respect women's rights.

Ms P Themba note the fact that the Committee had not had time to sit and discuss the study report yet. Until the Committee had thoroughly discussed the study report, it should not be treated as Committee document.

Ms Govender (ANC) suggested a public education campaign to inform women on how they could access rights and resources available from government as she felt that most women were still in the dark about the myriad of resources that the government was offering them.

The meeting was adjourned


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