Commission for Gender Equality reports on CSW 57th Session; IBSA Conference; 365 Days of Action to End Violence; National Council on Gender Based Violence; Gender Focal Points; Courts; National Gender Summit; 2014 elections

Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities

21 April 2015
Chairperson: Ms T Memela (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Commission for Gender Equality briefed the Committee the status of gender mainstreaming throughout different departments in government and information relevant to monitoring the effectiveness of certain programmes which strive for gender equality. The Committee was also briefed on a number of documents including: Women and Political Parties in South Africa: Evaluating Progress for Women’s Political Participation and Representation in Political Parties, Consolidated Court Monitoring Assessment/Report (Financial Year 2013-2014), IBSA Report Presentation (2013), 57th CSW 2013: Elimination and prevention of all forms of violence against women and girls, and the National Gender Summit 2014: Reviewing the Gains and Challenges Facing Gender Equality, 20 Years of Democracy.

In assessing the mainstreaming of gender in the public service, the CGE found that in the Department of Science and Technology (DST), there was still male domination, but there was evidence of significant progress. However, when examining the South African Police Service (SAPS), the CGE found it was male-dominated and progress was low. When questioning SAPS about these numbers, the justification was the lack of interest in participation by women.

In assessing the effectiveness of Gender Focal Points (GFPs), CGE found the GFPs were located in units that were not relevant in dealing with gender mainstreaming. The "Out of Mind, Out of Sight" programme revealed that systemic/structural issues and operational issues were acting as constraints to gender empowerment. The report assessing the effectiveness of the National Council on Gender Based Violence again identified structural and operational issues hindering its effectiveness.

The report concerning the 2014 elections and the involvement of women found that the majority of party manifestos addressed interests of women, but did not address gender equality or gender mainstreaming explicitly.

The Consolidated Court Monitoring Assessment/Report described measures to monitor the Equality, Maintenance, Domestic Violence and Criminal Courts towards the goal of evaluating the facilities of the national justice system to deal with gender discrimination. It was found that there were low levels of community awareness on Equality Courts, in addition to insufficient training for clerks and magistrates. Legal Courts were staffed with maintenance prosecutors and investigators who were not fully aware of their job, and there lacked an orderly system for the distribution of warrants for arrest to SAPS. In Domestic Violence Courts, magistrates sometimes lacked an understanding of the applications of the Act – resulting in misapplication of the Act towards settling other cases. Secondly, there was no integrated system to consolidate court orders and counter-orders. Finally, Criminal Courts were planned to be included in future monitoring due to its importance in engaging with more violent facets of gender discrimination. Suggestions included legal revisions, greater training and integrated computer systems.

The IBSA Report (2013) looked at key takeaways from the recent 2013 convening of the forum between India, Brazil and South Africa. There were six major points in the Stakeholder’s Consultative Dialogue that dealt with the plight of women in politics, rural and urban areas, and strengthening social protection systems and budgets geared towards them. There was a study tour that looked at special police stations for women and children, a National Commission for Women, the Rashtriya Mahila Kosh: National Credit Fund for Poor Women, and the Prayas Juvenile Aid Centre.

The 57th CSW 2013 provided insights into correcting the legal framework and brought steps towards gender violence prevention – an important step in intervention. The 57th CSW recommended ongoing monitoring of gender-based violence programs and engagements with the Departments of: Women, Children and People with Disabilities; Justice and Constitutional Development, and Social Development. Additionally, broad engagement with SAPS, and education, health, and sport institutions, would also help. The document detailed a number of specific actions targeting early/forced marriages, stigmas, equal gender inclusions in institutions, legislative gaps, the role of men and boys, and religion related issues.

The National Gender Summit 2014 sought to provide a platform for critical debate on the attainment of gender equality in South Africa, in addition to discussion of broader challenges as South Africa celebrated its 20th year of democracy. This particular summit envisaged the Development of a Programme of action to capture recommendations and strengthen gender equality institutions, the development of local programmes of action to support gender equality, the production of a report on the status of gender equality, and the revival of feminist networking and activism. Some gains were the development of a National Policy Framework on Gender Equality, the establishment of National Gender Machinery, like the CGE, the promulgation of several anti-discriminatory laws, and the endorsement of key regional and international protocols.

Nevertheless, major challenges still remained. There was a failure to engender key development and policy frameworks like the NDP, land reform and climate change responses. There was a failure to gender mainstream departmental programmes and budgets. Also, the conceptualization of women as a vulnerable group, along with children and the disabled, was hurting their perception. There has been widespread failure by the state to implement the gender equality legislation and protocols that has been thus far accepted or endorsed. More pervasive issues persist in civil society, stemming from perceptions of boys and men, the traditions of institutional cultures, and the perceptions and stereotypes propagated by the media.

The Committee raised a call for the CGE to become more assertive and confident in implementation of policies it has succeeded in passing. Questions were raised on incentives for Departments to concede to gender equality regulations and the role of traditional leaders. The CGE said it aimed to create a safe environment for women to incentivize them to take a greater role in politics, as opposed to incentivizing politics to seek women for equality quotas.

Questions were also raised on the oversight of Thuthuzela childcare sites and the backlog they were experiencing and the potential role that traditional leaders might have, though the Committee did not seem to support this development.

There was discussion on the failed WEGE Bill and suggestions made on the next steps following its failure. Many believed the WEGE Bill was a step in the right direction, but that it targeted too many groups and was a rushed piece of legislation, both of which led to its downfall.

The CGE brought up its practices for comparing departments and recording gender equality ‘best practices’ that would then be carried to other departments for mimicking when appropriate or relevant.

There was widespread concern that issues of gender equality would be buried or forgotten as some institutions dealing specifically with these issues were subsumed under other departments or closed out entirely. 

Meeting report

Opening Remarks

The Chairperson said that the Committee had not yet received written responses from the Commission for Gender Equality (CGE) to questions that arose in the previous meeting. She asked why they had not been provided as it had been a week since they were requested.

Adv Kamraj Anirudhra, Parliamentary Officer, CGE, indicated that the delay was because the CGE wanted to ensure the most comprehensive responses and that the document would be available the following week.

Ms D Robinson (DA) agreed with the Chairperson and placed emphasis on the timeliness of receiving the report. It was part of the understanding that CGE would report back with the responses from the previous Committee meetings at this meeting.

Ms G Tseke (ANC) also expressed concern about CGE not having responded to the questions.

Mainstreaming of gender in the public service

Ms Thoko Mpumlwana, Deputy Chairperson, CGE, began by thanking the Committee for the opportunity to present the research.

Mr Thabo Rapoo, Director of Policy and Research, CGE, presented the various research reports of CGE. The first report was on the mainstreaming of gender in the public service. The first area looked at was internal organisational structures of several organisations within the South African government. The CGE found that in the Department of Science and Technology (DST), there was still male domination, but there was evidence of significant progress as there was a slight increase in women in senior management structures. In terms of Departmental staff, the gender distribution was 54% men and 46% women, indicating a significantly close margin.

When examining the South African Police Service (SAPS), the CGE found it was male-dominated - as it was historically and globally. Despite that, SAPS was responsible for complying with national policies to promote and empower women. Women made up only 34% of the SAPS workforce, which was substantially below the goal of 50%. Additionally, at the national level, there were eight female officers and 15 male officers. These were signs of continued male domination in the police force. This report was presented to SAPS in the individual provinces. There were several programs in place on SAPS, but the progress was still low. When questioning SAPS about these numbers, the justification was the lack of interest in participation by women.

The reports contained detailed recommendations. CGE recommended that the Committee and the Commission, along with Departments, be responsible for sensitizing the issues related to gender and gender involvement. The Committee could play an important role in having meetings with senior leaders and the national and provincial levels.

Gender Focal Points (GFPs)

The second report provided information on assessing the effectiveness of Gender Focal Points (GFPs) in the country. The purpose of the assessment was to measure the GFPs at the national, provincial and local level. The study was conducted via questionnaire. There were also in-depth interviews with informants and senior officials. In general, CGE found the GFPs were located in units that were not relevant in dealing with gender mainstreaming. As a result, the GFPs were spending 26% to 100% of their time focusing on work that did not relate to gender mainstreaming. Additionally, people appointed to the position of GFPs did not have the necessary skills.

Over half of the respondents said their departments had a dedicated budget for gender mainstreaming; most of the affirmative respondents were on the national level (67%). Some of the money allocated at the national level, however, was also distributed to other programmes that were not focused on women, but did encompass women in some way. Given that a high percentage of people were unsure if there was funding for gender mainstreaming programmes, the findings suggest that there was a failure to disseminate information regarding allocation of resources toward gender mainstreaming.

Out of Mind, Out of Sight programme

The third report summarised the findings from the "Out of Mind, Out of Sight" programme. This programme addressed issues relating to gender-based violence like prevention, support, and response. The study conducted by CGE had the objectives of determining progress in implementation, determine effectiveness of programmes in place, and identify constraints to implementation. The study revealed that there were two main categories of constraints: systemic/structural issues and operational issues. The systemic issues consist of budgeting issues, poor coordination, poor planning, and capacity building issues.

National Council on Gender Based Violence

The fourth report focused on assessing the effectives of the National Council on Gender Based Violence. The GBV council was established in 2012 in line with UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) Recommendation 19. CGE wanted to evaluate the effectiveness and programme implementation. CGE identified structural and operational issues affecting the effectiveness. The structural issues concerned internal institutional weakness, unresolved internal leadership issues, and lack of clarity on relations with partnering programmes. The operational issues related to lack of transparency, lack of comprehensive programme, plans and budget.

Women and the 2014 elections

The fifth report concerned the 2014 elections and the involvement of women. CGE selected six parties to study (ANC, DA, COPE, UDM and VF+). The parties' composition was examined in terms of gender participation, gender roles, and gender content on party manifestos. On the party manifestos, the majority of the parties addressed interests of women, but did not address gender equality or gender mainstreaming explicitly.


Ms L Van der Merwe (IFP) asked questions regarding to clarity. When CGE said they ensured something happened, it implied some sort of action would be taking place. What was this action? CGE had presented reports and recommended that departments have hearings, but was CGE going to give departments some framework to base the hearings on? CGE did not indicate any action taken. It was CGE's responsibility to be advocates for gender equality. The Commission must tell the departments what was expected.

Ms MP Chueu (ANC) reiterated what Ms Van der Merwe said. It was crucial to make sure the departments did something - if GCE did not hold the departments accountable, no change would happen. With regards to the Department of Science and Technology, it was important to see more information about how they were implementing the plans. CGE needed to ask the departments more specific questions about the working hours of women. Additionally, when SAPS justified the lack of women involvement by saying that women did not apply, that was “a lousy excuse”. Was it necessary to go the route to ensure appointments in SAPS of women? The alternative was to force them in another way. Men were not going to give their power just like that. When CGE talks to SAPS, they must be mean and forceful. SAPS must listen to the issues. Ms Chue did not accept the report as was - it must be changed.

Ms Robinson firstly reminded CGE that a request was made in the previous week to number the pages. It was a waste of time trying to find the right place. Secondly, regarding women with disabilities, they tended to be pushed in corners and were not given the same opportunities that others were. They were also excluded from social activities. Peoples with disability could still be full members of society and have great insight on those conditions. Thirdly, the Committee kept getting reports of what was happening, but it was crucial to see what the actions were - and how the Commission could act.

Ms N Tarabella-Marchesi (DA) asked CGE how much power they had to ensure that the recommendations were being followed. It would also be nice to see numbers regarding female students at universities, especially in relation to science and technology.

Ms P Bhengu (ANC) asked how CGE monitored and enforced the recommendations.

Ms Tseke suggested the CGE take the necessary actions to ensure that women were given fair opportunities. CGE could report, but what was the analysis and the observations and what were the deeper meanings? The recommendations suggested joint meetings with the departments - the Committee needed to see these reports.

Ms Chueu said that there were many women unemployed and in poverty. Each department had a responsibility to take women out of these issues and there needed to be clear plans. Whether it was through engagement, employment or education, it needs to be done. There should be an everyday priority to take women out of these positions.

Ms Tarabella-Marchesi wanted to find out why women did not apply for senior positions. Was there something that could be done to provide an incentive or provide an advantage? Just going to the departments and demanding women to be in senior positions won't work. There needed to be incentives.

Ms Bhengu suggested the CGE indicate each province they were referring to when making their reports.

The Chairperson asked for further clarifications about the departments that CGE was working with. How did GCE measure what was being studied? If CGE found that there was 50% recruitment in women dealing with cyber-crime, could this be verified?

Ms Mpumlwana thanked the Committee, on behalf of CGE, for the suggestions and indicated that the considerations and comments were taken into account. Unfortunately, CGE did not have the power to force people to do things. CGE conducted studies and made recommendations. With regard to women and disabilities, there was a joint project being implemented by two departments. CGE was funded by the United Nations to look at mainstreaming disability. GCE looked at this as an issue and studied the impact on it had on women.

As for why did women not apply? Because of patriarchy. Even when the door was open, it was not easy to get through it. Even when women had the potential, they did not apply. Transformation had come a long way, but it was a matter of continuing the progress.

The Chairperson said that CGE should have taken further analysis of the issues raised in Pretoria.

Ms Tseke indicated that the Committee could not take the work of CGE seriously until legislation was amended. Different Members of Parliament will say different things about the mandates of CGE. There was a need to change the legislation.

Mr Rapoo mentioned that most of the points mentioned by the Members were accepted. On the issue of emphasizing the budget on the Department of Technology, CGE found that the budget was not gender specific, but the department did provide information about how they were increasing programs. Mr Rapoo then mentioned a list of departments that CGE worked with on the provincial and national levels, including the Department of Basic Education and the Department of Transportation. Specific departments were identified to ask questions to. Regarding the SAPS figures, CGE did not try to verify the figures in terms of physically checking to see if the numbers were factually correct. CGE could do this in the future as it was a whole separate project on its own. It took time to fully verify those figures.

Ms CN Majeke (UDM) asked what progress had been made with regard to previous recommendations to the CGE. She also asked what had been the challenges to satisfying these recommendations and what were the key lessons from the interdepartmental management team?

Ms Van der Merwe described the support the Committee had for the CGE’s work, but believed it was time for the CGE to develop more of a bite – become more proactive and vocal. She expressed her concerns with the way gender violence was dealt with. A high crisis situation could form and receive attention and discussion, but there was ultimately a lack of funds to act and implement results of the discussions. She highlighted that most of the Department of Social Development’s funds to fight gender-based violence were going towards call centers, which she questioned the effectiveness of. She asked for the CGE’s thoughts on the issues she had raised.

Ms Tarabella-Marchesi asked what kind of incentives the CGE was willing to present to departments to incite them to bring women into leadership roles.

The Chairperson broadened the debate by asking Members what strategies they were implementing within their respective political parties to ensure gender parity. This was a biting issue when it comes to parties, but nonetheless one that affected them all.

Ms Van der Merwe referenced the CGE report on political parties and verified the leadership mis-opportunities for women within political parties. She stated that a party quota had since been adopted establishing a 40% minimum women representation.

The Chairperson reminded the group that without the National Council of Provinces most bills would be thrown out. The necessary fieldwork was broader than previously thought and without synergy with local government, failure is certain.

Ms Bhengu thanked the CGE for their report. She asked what the CGE’s role was in analyzing reports with reference to report number three of the document. She also raised issues with institutional capacity and lack of transparency.

The Chairperson raised concerns over the oversight of the Thuthuzela Aid Community Centers and the training of traditional leaders to handle claim backlogs. She did not think traditional leaders could deal with those things.

Ms Mpumlwana described the origination of the Commission and the need for everyone to rally around a strategy to eradicate gender based violence. While issues like AIDS had a clear resolution strategy, issues around gender-based violence were more difficult to pin down resulting in an unclear national strategy. Programs could function well on the ground and be supported by civil society, but once they escalated to a higher level, territorialism set in and hampers their effectiveness.

Ms Mpulmlwana believed there were plenty of legislation, but a lack of implementation. She stated that the CGE was going to present its report to the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) to ensure that everyone would take these issues seriously. Research collected by the CGE suggested that women did well in local government and they were seeking to get into communities to understand why.

On the issue of traditional leaders, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) was engaging with traditional leaders to help them understand the concept of gender-based violence and its problems. These teachings they believe, would have a spillover effect on the people the traditional leaders interacted with.

Ms Maema described the process of comparison that was used between departments to identify best practice. The CGE looked at departments with successful programs or operations and suggested similar models to other departments with comparable operations or necessities. This style of management and auditing could be a performance parameter for senior management to ensure a synergistic, learning environment.

She reported that the CGE had arranged a meeting with Police Commissioner Phiyega for March 26th, but the Commissioner postponed the meeting.

With regard to the oversight of the Thuthuzela centers, work was being done on victim’s reports. The National Prosecuting Authority was also checking Thuthuzela centers, with help from the Departments of Health and Social Development to analyze the situation. A specific report was available on the issues uncovered in these investigations.

She concluded that the country should be ashamed of its insufficient efforts and lack of national coordination, in agreement with Ms Van der Merwe’s criticisms. By 2015, the CGE was supposed to halve national gender-based violence, but it had not even started efforts towards this goal.

Mr Thabo Rapoo, Researcher, CGE, explained the idiom “out of sight, out of mind”. The National Action Plan for Orphans and Other Children Made Vulnerable by HIV and AIDS (NAP) was ended in 2011 and since then many Departments had also ceased efforts begun under the plan. There were lessons to be learned from the unorganized dissolution of the Inter-Departmental Management Team (IDMT). There were repetitions of problems with institutions to deal with gender based violence.

On the question of incentives to departments, Mr Rapoo stated that the purpose was to incentivize women to take leadership roles in departments by constructing a safe environment for politics. Not to incentivize departments to take women into positions to fill quotas and targets.

Mr Rapoo clarified that the lack of names in citations throughout the document was in an effort to protect the identities of the contributors. Previously, when names were attached to data or opinions the individuals had been threatened for supporting the eradication of gender-based violence.

The Chairperson added that the women were in the forefront of liberation. They were not there for incentives, but because they believed in it – irrespective of the danger they faced. She said that in rural areas, women were still in this forefront and as a result, it was important that they were never compromised.

Ms Bhengu added that political parties should be lobbied with this cause. She also pointed out the decreased number of people with disabilities in all facets of government and reminded them that people with disabilities were also voters.

Ms Van der Merwe reiterated that the CGE, as well as the Committee, must have teeth to deal with these issues. The formal department to deal with people with disabilities specifically has been absorbed by the Department of Social Development. She added that in many cases with these issues, people did not understand what the Committee was asking. To resolve this she said the Committee must bring the conversation to them, to the Department of Social Development, and hold them accountable for action.

Ms Tseke asked whether there was another institution to pull together cross-departmental problems.

Ms Robinson brought up the failed Women Empowerment and Gender Equality (WEGE) Bill. She believed there was no need to reinvent the bill, but rather a need to take out what was bad and maintain what was good. It punished people in higher places for not meeting requirements and she countered by asking what the Committee was doing to prevent gender-based violence at lower levels. It highlighted a need for a total plan for the entire country and a moral regeneration across all of society.

The Chairperson pointed out the opposition to women’s rights was a global phenomenon in most cases and did not strike a single strata of people. The issue needed to be targeted from the bottom up, the way the people of South Africa should approach things.

Ms Tseke added that the WEGE Bill had been passed in a short amount of time and may not have been ready. Its intentions to bring aboard everyone in the fight against gender-based violence were good, but ultimately threatening to some. She said the next attempt at the Bill would allow ample time to gather the appropriate resources and procedures.

Ms Thoko further pointed out that the WEGE Bill targeted everyone, the private sector, traditional leaders, traditional councils, NGOs, etc. Most institutions had not met quotas for women or disabled inclusions, though at the same time NGOs were frustrated at the pace of progress.

Consolidated Court Monitoring Assessment/Report (Financial Year 2013-2014)

Ms Marissa Van Niekerk, Head: Legal Division, CGE, presented the Consolidated Court Monitoring Assessment/Report.

In order to achieve Strategic Objective 1, Sub Strategy 1.4 mandates the “evaluating the facilities of the national justice facilities for gender discrimination”. Monitoring was performed on the Equality, Maintenance, Domestic Violence and Criminal Courts through questionnaires, onsite visits and in turn insight garnered from complaints received.

In the Equality Courts it was found that only one of the twelve courts monitored was functioning properly. Problems with the Equality Court that the CGE brought to the attention of Parliament in 2008 seemed to still persist. Ultimately, there were low levels of community awareness about the courts, insufficient training for clerks, magistrates and presiding officers, and a lack of information to guide the public on how to fully utilize these courts.

Recently, the CGE leveraged its findings and handled complaints in the Maintenance Amendment Bill. Actual court monitoring took place of six Maintenance Courts. The key findings were that Maintenance Prosecutors and Investigators are not fully familiar with their job description, there is a lack of proper system to distribute arrest warrants to SAPS, and inadequate facilities.

Five Domestic Violence Courts were monitored through complaint vetting, questionnaires and court visits. The key findings of these investigations were that Magistrates lacked understanding of the application of the Act, the Act was often utilized to “fight other battles” – like the division of assets, and there was no integrated system, which resulted in high incidences of unconsolidated orders and counter-orders.

While the monitoring of Criminal Courts was not specifically cited in the Strategic Plan, such action was strongly suggested by the CGE as the criminal courts were instrumental in the success in addressing gender based crimes like rape.

The assessment suggested the inclusion of the Equality Court Procedure in to the LLB curriculum and resultant admission exams, an aggressive marketing campaign, increased Equality Court litigation by Chapter Nine, an integrated computer system for Domestic Violence Cases, and integrated computer system to track warrants, a clear process for SAPS to collect warrants, intensive training of Magistrates and Clerks, and the establishment of a Victims Fund. Monitoring would be expanded to include the Sexual Offenses Court in 2014/2015.

IBSA (India, Brazil, South Africa) Report Presentation (2013)

Dr Wallace Mgoqi, Commissioner, CGE, presented the IBSA Report Presentation (2013).

IBSA was a unique forum that brought together India, Brazil, and South Africa as a collection of large democracies and economies facing similar challenges. Its organizational entities were Joint Working Groups, People-to-People Forums (Parliamentary Forum, Women’s Forum, Academic Forum, Local Governance Forum, Business Forum, and Editor’s Forum), Focal Points, and a Trilateral Commission.

Its purpose was to strengthen the partnership between the three countries, bring together experiences and share best practices on promoting gender equality, and exploring policies and programmes for the betterment of the status of women and the reduction of violence against women and children.

The Stakeholder’s Consultative Dialogue that ensued on 14-15 May 2013 addressed six topics:

- Ending Violence against Women and Girls: Building Safe Urban and Rural Space in the Context of Increasing Urbanization

- Political Participation and Leadership: Exploring Gender Roles in Nation Building

- Empowering Rural and Marginalized Women: A Holistic Approach

- Strengthening Social Protection Systems within the Developmental Framework: Schematic Interventions for Women and Children

- Gender Responsive Budgeting: Ensuring the Inclusion of Gender Commitments into Budgetary Allocations

- Women’s Empowerment and Gender Equality: Post 2015 Development Agenda

The 2013 gathering also included a study tour of four objectives. There was a special police station for women and children that dealt with dowry deaths, honor killings, rape and sexual harassment, abetment for suicide, kidnapping and abduction, molestation, trafficking, and self-defense training for girls. The second was the National Commission for Women, with review of its mandate and constitution. The third initiative was the Rashtriya Mahila Kosh: National Credit Fund for Poor Women. This organization provided women with working capital, franchise, start-up, and housing loans. The final site was the Prayas Juvenile Aid Centre, which provided basic care and opportunity to neglected street children in India, in addition to alternative forms of education.


The Chairperson referred to the resolutions described in the IBSA Report and pointed out that nothing addressed the plight of child labor in India, which she viewed as very serious.

Ms Tseke said the CGE would continue to represent the Committee in development platforms abroad and in sharing South Africa’s development progress internationally.

Ms Tarabella-Marchesi asked if there was a way to start collaborative banks that assist with loans in South Africa.

57th CSW 2013: Elimination and prevention of all forms of violence against women and girls

Ms Keketso Maema, Chief Executive Officer, CGE, presented the 57th Session of the Commission on Status of Women (CSW) (2013).

The 57th CSW foresaw a need to revise legal frameworks and leverage prevention to support intervention. Changes need to be made to social norms, which were the root causes of gender-based violence. This entailed working with men and boys in the context of community to ensure accountability and self-designed interventions to respond to violence against women and girls. There was a critical need for women’s empowerment, specifically economic empowerment, and a need to alter stereotypes perpetuated in the media.

Recommended interventions included: ongoing monitoring, engagements with the Department of Women, Children and People with Disabilities, engagements with the Department of Justice & Constitutional Development, Department of Social Development, SAPS, Education, Health, Sports, and the International Community.

To complement the recommended interventions a number of campaigns were also suggested for direct action. Toward the practice of early/forced marriages, a partnership with religious and traditional leaders to introduce new norms and appropriate intervention. A campaign directed at raising awareness of traditional leaders about the harmful practices and denial of rights that is sometimes exhibited towards widows. Campaigns to address of legislative gaps, mobilize the 50/50 gender quota system, work with media to challenge perpetuation of gender inequality and stereotypes, a partnership with Sonke Gender Justice to support state engagement with men and boys in response to gender-based violence, an investigation of the situation facing Muslim women and women of other faiths, an end to sexual violence at work, and a campaign for adequate funding.

National Gender Summit 2014: Reviewing the Gains and Challenges Facing Gender Equality, 20 Years of Democracy

Ms Keketso Maema presented the National Gender Summit 2014: Reviewing the Gains and Challenges Facing Gender Equality, 20 Years of Democracy.

The National Gender Summit sought to provide a platform for debate on the attainment of gender equality and the challenges the country faced after 20 years of democracy. The main objectives were to celebrate gender equality achievements, review changes to the country’s gender architecture, assess the effectiveness of the country’s National Gender Machinery, reconsider the role of the National Council for Gender Based Violence, review the legislative framework for gender equality and surface implementation, identify challenges in building and sustaining effective women’s movements, discuss the impact of masculinity in defining men’s roles, develop strategies to assess persistent barriers to gender equality, and to deliberate on the unequal burden on civil society to fight for gender equality.

To these ends, a National Policy Framework on gender equality was developed, establishing National Gender Machinery such as the CGE and the Women’s Ministry. Also, several anti-discriminatory laws were promulgated and key regional and international protocols endorsed. There had been an increase in women’s representation in politics and the civil service.

Nevertheless, some challenges remained. There was a failure to engender key development and policy frameworks and to implement gender mainstreaming of departmental programmes and budgets. Additionally, gender equality had been de-escalated from a political vision to “women’s empowerment” and women had become viewed as a vulnerable group, along with children and the disabled. The state had failed to adequately implement key legislation and international treaties – CEDAW; SOA; DVA. The objective of 50/50 women’s representation had not been taken seriously in the private sector. All of the above problems were exacerbated by the pervasive lack of funding and domination of institutional male oriented cultures.

A significant under-reporting of gender-based violence cases was found in addition to a lack of justice and impunity of offenders. Women were exposed to poverty in large numbers in rural areas, which required macroeconomic responses to the structural barriers that allow these structures to persist. Additional access to education, training, skill enhancement, micro finance, entrepreneurship, and land ownership were believed to help women’s economic stance.

Some of the most important drivers of persistent inequality were the patriarchy, power relations between men and women, the technocratic use of gender mainstreaming and the marginalization of feminism.

Ultimately, delegates agreed on a Programme of Action (POA) that outlined interventions to relevant structures going forward. The delegates and stakeholders committed themselves to these plans and the CGE was tasked with ensuring full implementation.


Ms Keketso said the Commission had met with the new Minister and engaged at the Summit with all stakeholders within the national gender machinery.

Ms Tarabella-Marchesi asked the CGE if they were familiar with the case of the man who supposedly raped over 100 women and had not been caught. She detailed the police response to reported cases as inadequate.

Ms Chueu said the CGE could work to subpoena departments, especially the Ministers and Director-Generals and force them to give answers or work on implementation. She also called to attention aesthetic issues with the CGE’s documents.

Ms Bhengu followed up by stating that it was unclear how the CGE would enforce the 59th CSW insights and recommendations when it was just presenting the 57th from 2013. She also asked about the progress in engaging critical stakeholders.

The Chairperson thanked the group very much for their work, reminded them not to be lazy, and closed by insisting on the need to work together to show improvement in peoples’ lives.

In the interest of time presentations the CGE would have seven days to respond to questions raised by Committee Members in writing.

The meeting was adjourned. 

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