The Multi-Party Women’s Caucus (MPWC) met for a Strategic Planning Workshop where an official from Southern African Development Community (SADC) briefed Members of the Committee on the Development of the Strategic Business Plan for MPWC.
The presentation covered the Strategic Focus, the Role of the Multi-Party Women’s Caucus (MPWC), Review of the Strategic Plan 2011 – 2014, and the Methodology and Planning Framework. The aim of the business plan was to provide strategic direction to how the MPWC will give effect to its mandate during the 2014/15 financial year.
The report focused on the outcomes of the business plan which were to identify the priorities of MPWC on its strategic imperatives, develop tools that can serve as a basis for monitoring and evaluation. The business plan of MPWC will be linked to the vision and mission of Parliament. The vision of Parliament was to build an effective people’s Parliament that was responsive to the needs of the people and driven by realising a better life for all the people of South Africa.
The report also looked at the role of the MPWC where its mandate was derived from Joint Rule 137 of Parliament. This rule stipulated that the MPWC acted as an advisory, influencing and consultative body. The review of the Strategic Plan 2011 - 2014 of the MPWC became active in 2011 and sought over the course of the past 3 years to give effect to its mandate by training and capacitating women Members of Parliament, engaging on developmental and empowerment issues with women, and promoting the discussion of women issues in Parliament.
The report concluded by explaining the Methodology and Planning Framework 2014 where some key lessons were learnt from the 4th Parliament and included the need for the business plan to be SMART in order to ensure that goals were achievable.
Members of the MPWC welcomed the presentation which was informative and educational for them. They also made some valuable inputs that focussed to the needs of women, development and empowerment of women of all races.
Opening and Welcoming Remarks
The Chairperson opened the meeting by welcoming all present. She informed Members that the purpose of that meeting was a Strategic Planning Workshop for the MPWC.
Briefing on the Development of the Strategic Business Plan for MPWC
Ms Nomkhitha Gysman, SADC-PF Gender Officer: Southern African Development Community (SADC) said the presentation outline would focus on the Strategic Focus, the Role of the Multi-Party Women’s Caucus (MPWC), Review of the Strategic Plan 2011 – 2014, and the Methodology and Planning Framework.
In terms of the Strategic Focus, the first point to look at was the aim of the business plan which was to provide strategic direction to how the MPWC will give effect to its mandate during the 2014/15 financial year in a pursuit to building an effective MPWC that was responsive to the needs of women Members of Parliament.
The outcomes were to identify the priorities of MPWC on its strategic imperatives. Develop a plan that was flexible and provided contingencies for uncertainty and change. Guide the priority use of the resources of the MPWC – human, financial and material resources. Develop tools that can serve as a basis for monitoring and evaluation.
Ms Gysman said the business plan of MPWC will be linked to the vision and mission of Parliament. The vision of Parliament was to build an effective people’s Parliament that was responsive to the needs of the people and driven by realising a better life for all the people of South Africa. The mission of Parliament was to build an oversight process of scrutinising and overseeing Government’s action and that was driven by the ideal of realising a better life for all the people of South Africa, to process legislation and, to facilitate public participation and involvement.
Role of the MPWC
Ms Gysman said with regard to the Role of the MPWC its mandate was derived from Joint Rule 137 of Parliament which indicated that the MPWC acted as an advisory, influencing and consultative body by: Representing the interests and concerns of women Members of Parliament; Promoting the discussion of women issues in Parliament; Making submissions to relevant Committees; Introducing a women’s perspective and focus in Parliamentary activities, including in the programming of debates; Engaging on developmental and empowerment issues with women in political structures outside Parliament and women Members of Parliament internationally, and considering any other matter within its mandate referred to it by either House.
Review of the Strategic Plan 2011 – 2014
Ms Gysman said in terms of the Review of the Strategic Plan 2011 -2014, the MPWC became active in 2011 and sought over the course of the past 3 years to give effect to its mandate in the following ways:
(i) Training and capacitating women Members of Parliament – A number of training initiatives were conducted in the period under review. These included training women Members of Parliament and Members of Provincial Legislatures on the Millennium Development Goals. It also included capacity building sessions on the gendered perspective of climate change.
(ii) Promoting the discussion of women issues in Parliament – One example of the way in which the MPWC sought to promote the discussion of women issues in Parliament was through hosting of a national roundtable on gender-based violence. The roundtable created an opportunity for members of the public to engage with women Members of Parliament on the key challenges with regards to eradicating gender-based violence. It focussed on the implementation of legislation dealing with gender-based violence and mechanisms for effectively overseeing gender-based violence.
(iii) Engaging on developmental and empowerment issues with women and some of this included: Participating in the first National Conference hosted by the Department of Women, Children and People with Disabilities. The Conference focussed on economic empowerment, job creation, and sustainable livelihoods for women, education for women and girls, health, rural development and food security and land reform, engaging with civil society on challenges and achievements in relation to the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals, hosting breakfast event to honour the role played by women veterans, participating in second National Conference of the Progressive Women’s Movement, etc.
Methodology and Planning Framework 2014
Ms Gysman said in terms of the Methodology and Planning Framework 2014 the key lessons learnt from the 4th Parliament included the following: The need for the business plan to be SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound) in order to ensure that goals were achievable. They should limit the number of strategic goals so as to ensure the business plan was realistic and achievable. They should link the goals to the mandate of the MPWC. They should find creative ways of engaging with related stakeholders, including members of the public.
Ms Gysman said with regard to the planning matrix for the purpose of the business planning, the focus was on looking forward while bearing in mind the lessons learnt from looking backward at what had been achieved and what the challenges and constraints were. The focus was on finding the future direction of the MPWC in terms of where it was going, what issues it should focus on, the activities, tools and resources it will use to achieve its objectives and identifying key stakeholders for 2014/15. Finally, the MPWC needed to develop timeframes for reviewing and evaluating its performance.
Ms M Chueu (ANC) said with regard to the issue of affirmative action whether it was the right time to evaluate it or talk about it maybe they should evaluate it because what they had missed in the last 20 years they’ve isolated the issue of race, sex and class. These 3 issues in South Africa when development came they bonded together. So, if they isolated them it was when they’ve failed, but now they’ve isolated them and started identifying that women were locked up in poverty. But that poverty was put together by those 3 issues and if they wanted to liberate women in South Africa they’ve got to bond together those 3 issues because even women in rural and urban areas they still called a white woman madam. Therefore, the issue of class, sexual oppression and race had been clubbed together so that women could realise that it was not about an individual but about liberating women as a whole. Therefore, the issue of affirmative action could not be evaluated in isolation of its formation wherever oppression started it had to be taken from there.
Ms Chueu said with regard to the issue of female and women concepts that they should discuss that and should include the gender issue because as the presenter already stated that there were women who said men were also raped. But men generally were not oppressed and men were always favoured in most of the things they were being mentored at private sector, being mentored at Government and everywhere in society and nobody was saying anything about women being mentored. Therefore, when they talk about those concepts they should talk to them in their original perspectives. There were also issues that effected women that should be legislated and legislation empowered them to enforce quotas, for example in Europe, in Finland the Finance Minister put down legislation which forced companies to appoint women in board positions as chairpersons. Therefore, in South Africa they could follow the same example by having a legislation which will force companies to appoint women in their boards which will be something positive in terms of empowering women.
Ms Chueu said with regard to the issue of woman President that they should not be discouraged by the fact that the Malawian President was removed from power by the circumstances of that country which she didn’t know. But in South Africa there had never been a time for a woman to be seen ready to become a President and anytime they could put a woman to become a President. They should not fear to put a woman for Presidency because some quotas think that a woman was not yet ready and was not clear which barometer they were using to conclude that a woman was not ready to become a President in South Africa. Therefore, if they could push a woman for the President position they should just give her support in terms of training, confidence and when she needed women support groups when facing problems because men also make so many faults but they’ve got support groups that encored them through their problems.
Therefore, the issue of multi-party women in South Africa was taught by other parties as if it was an ANC policy and they couldn’t adopt it. They feel women were liberated and were lying to themselves to think women were liberated even in Government women were still not liberated and in that space of apartheid South Africa women were still not liberated, and even in Europe, women were still not liberated. But the problem was that white women wanted to speak about problems that affected black women but were mum about the problems that affected white women. Therefore, as long they were not identifying issues that affected them then they will never see the struggle of liberating women through their struggle because they saw it as an African thing, it was African women that should be liberated. All women were oppressed black and white, there were issues that affected Indian women in South Africa and there were issues that affected coloured women in the country, and all those issues should come out so that as women they could unite and fight them because all of them were affected by patriarchal oppression.
Ms D Robinson (DA) said she agreed and disagreed with a couple of points raised by Ms Chueu. Ms Chueu was absolutely right that there was abuse and oppression in all societies, and for example she had never indicated that it was a problem that belonged to one sector of the society. She could look into areas that covered Afrikaans, English and Xhosa groups in the Western Cape and could not do that everywhere. White women in the case of abuse were very much more private about it and she had been in places where women were living in certain houses. Some of those women were the wives of doctors, some of those women were auditors, they were at various levels of society but they didn’t talk about abuse, it was something that they kept private because they felt it was an embarrassment and it was difficult.
Patriarchal attitudes especially in the Afrikaans community were very much stronger than they might be in the English society which depended very much on the family. And this was a part of the evolution of the society because some people had been much more advance from long time ago. So, definitely within racial groups and with religious groups there was a tremendous problem, and she had grown with great opposition to her son in-law who has got different attitude because he came from a religious group from hers. Therefore, she didn’t think they could ever really generalise, they’ve got safe houses, they’ve got victim friendly centres all over the country but they were not really enough. While many white women had the advantage of education which was denied to other people and from that point of view they’ve been able to advance more quickly and stood up for themselves and never kept quiet, never stood back for any man which came from their family because they were treated the same. Therefore, women should stand up and talk about the issues that affected them so that they will be able to fight back including women in religious groups.
Ms B Mabe (ANC) welcomed the presentation which was very empowering and educative. As a women who came from the disadvantage background the struggle for women emancipation was not over there was still a long way to go but they will not do it if they not united and they will not do it if they didn’t pay solidarity to one another. She was saying solidarity because of what was expected of the multi-party women’s caucus which should cut across party politics, it should cut across colour, it should be a forum where women came together in particular for support of one another. The workshop came at a time when South African courts were busy with cases of serious violent and domestic abuse of women. In South Africa domestic abuse was seen as if it was a black issue and other races were not experiencing it which was not true.
The workshop came at a time when they’ve witness a debate in the National Assembly where the Speaker of Parliament was called to resign her position. They didn’t know what motivated that but that was done by men from opposition parties. In political parties where women were present whether that issue was tabled in their caucus what did other women say about it, were they given an opportunity to reflect, where they able to bring the gender sensitivity issue in their caucus, and it was unfortunate they’ve witnessed that particular situation.
Ms Mabe said as a young woman, the workshop gave her an opportunity that they needed to support one another that as they grow it should not be about themselves and what they have and protecting their surroundings, but they needed to extend that as well in terms of teaching a girl child to being a motivator, being a role model for others. She had also reflected on priorities on gender in terms of impact and moving the presentation with regard to participation.
Ms Mabe said the presenter also spoke about strategic deployment versus capacity because in most cases women were disadvantaged by the word called “capacity”, but as to men that were in strategic positions whether they indeed have that capacity was another matter. They could witness a number of issues and in a number of institutions where men were leaders but didn’t have capacity, instead within that institution or group there was a very powerful woman that was being suppressed, and they as women politicians needed to fight for such women because they had capacity to do that.
Ms Mabe referred to the very interesting issue of 50/50 representation between men women. She asked what happened after that 50/50 representation. They should also start motivating for the retaining of the existing skills. They should identify skills and be able to retain skills where they taught they’ve developed women.
Ms Mabe said the presenter also spoke about women empowerment in terms of economic empowerment which was just a buzz word recently in South Africa. She asked whether as women MPs were they able to move and support the budgets that were gender sensitive that were bias against women development, for example, in housing did they have women in committees that would say to contractors how many women contractors they’ve empowered out of those contracts. They could not shy away from that it was their responsibility to enquire about the empowerment of women which was why they were in Parliament because those women voted for them to be there.
Ms Mabe referred to applications which might be intimidating in their nature. And to take that issue further women that were capable to occupied those positions they also didn’t have the courage or capacity to negotiate for better salaries, but men did that because if they state their worth in terms of capacity. Therefore, they should motivate and encourage women to negotiate for better salaries.
Ms Mabe said in terms of public participation that it was about accessibility as the presenter correctly pointed out. The use of language or sometimes the manner in which one was being addressed tendered to move people away from one, whether one was addressing people in a manner that right so as to feel they were equal or a person who was able to represent them, whether they felt connected to one another.
Ms Mabe said with regard to violence that the laws were there and they wanted to leave a life that was free from violence. She asked whether they were doing enough and what it was that they were not doing that could not stop that violence against women. Every day they get stories of violence that was happening across all races and the media had been a very powerful tool to use that.
Ms L Zwane (ANC) welcomed the presentation which was very interesting and at a level where all of them could understand. The first issue was the issue of the NCOP Chairperson and the representation of women in chairpersonships was really not pleasing. 18% was not even a quarter of the chairpersonships that were held by women and it was an issue they needed to raise sharply let alone the committees the presenter alluded to like the Economic Development, International Relations, and Rural Development.
Ms Zwane said the other issue was that of different roles of the multi-party caucus which made her happy when those roles were clarified by the presenter and the Women’s Portfolio Committee had oversight over gender issues in each and every department resorting within the Presidency. She was happy because it always created confusion even at the level of provinces where Members were not even really sure as to what their role was, what the Committee’s role was, and afraid on stepping on one another’s toes. Therefore, information needed to filter down to that provincial level as well as to local government.
Ms Zwane said she was worried in the presentation about the backsliding in terms of representation of women which was an issue the Multi-Party Women Caucus should take up and correct. It was their duty as a body to actually correct that come next Parliament because they wanted to move forward not backwards and other countries were looking up to South Africa with hope that they were making a reasonable progress and if they were to backslide it discouraged them quite a bit. They also needed to be very vigilant because they were approaching local government elections so as to ensure that female or women candidates were elected to positions of being councillors and become office bearers in different municipalities.
Ms Zwane said another issue that she liked in the presentation was that they should not view that body as one for lobbying and advocacy. It was strong and effective machinery for women’s voice and they should use the power they’ve been given by the machinery itself to raise issues that affected them as women, and they should not look down upon themselves. And as a result as much that day was a constituency day they could’ve made an effort seeing that it was a women issue and some of them were there because they saw it as important step to come and support their own cause, and everybody else could have done the same.
Ms Zwane said the other issue was the ability to engage women at all levels of the community. Ms Mabe alluded to the fact that as MPs they should not change but rather be approachable and be able to identify with the women needs. They should not change and assume a status of men but rather remain as positive women and be mothers to their children and wives to their husbands. They should be mothers, community women, church goers and play their various roles without changing to become like men, and be able to relate to people at various levels.
Ms Zwane said with regard to the empowerment issue that it was not all of them that were empowered and when they came to a situation as women they look down on one another, they didn’t lift themselves up and support each other. She appreciated the national Assembly in terms of how it handle the situation of the Speaker of Parliament when opposition parties leaded by men showing no confidence in the Speaker. Women were very good in defending the Speaker of Parliament specifically in that debate and they’ve played their role as mothers and stood firm in defence of the Speaker. And that attitude was not an attitude of being cruel but it was an attitude which said she must know her place because they knew theirs. Therefore, she was very happy by the way the dignity of the Speaker was defended by other women in the National Assembly.
Ms Zwane said with regard to economic empowerment women should pursue not only chairpersonship in Committees but also be empowered economically in terms of business and acquire positions of influence where they would build the nation because if they educated a woman they educated a nation but when they educate a man they educated an individual. Therefore, there was a reason why they needed to develop women even further along the lines of the business world especially their children because they were not employed and as women they needed to create space for them to survive.
Ms Zwane said in conclusion although it was still in court many women were disappointed by the verdict of the Pistorious case and they did not know what was forth coming but were disappointed with the outcome which perpetuated domestic abuse.
The Chairperson said there were very knowledgeable women and all the years she was in Parliament that Committee was not funded, and it was women who undermined it. But today there were women that have big ideas and the quality of inputs from Members was very great in terms of what they wanted to achieve.
Ms Robinson agreed with the Chairperson that the quality of input from Members was incredible and it was very nice to see young women coming to Parliament with education and ideas that came so strongly which was wonderful.
The Chairperson asked for clarity in terms of the barometers that focussed on 2013 and the 2014, whether they were different.
Ms Gysman replied that they were not very much different and she will be linking them when she was going to present them, but in terms of time they were very comfortable and they were not behind.
The Chairperson thanked the presenter for the presentation and said she was looking forward to their next engagement.
The meeting was adjourned.
- Gender Barometer: 2013/2014
- SADC Protocol on Gender and Development
- Message of the Regional Women's Parliamentary Caucus (RWPC)
- Multi-Party Women's Caucus
- Preface into the Future: the SADC Gender Protocol and Post 2015 Agenda
- Regional Parliamentary Women's Caucus ( Terms of Reference)
- Executive summary
- Development of the Strategic Business Plan For the Multi – Party Women’s Caucus
- Gender & Development a Declaration by Heads of State or Government of SADC
- We don't have attendance info for this committee meeting
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