Committee Report on Department of Women in Presidency & Commission on Gender Equality Budget

Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities

05 May 2015
Chairperson: Ms P Bhengu (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Committee Content Advisor took the Committee through the draft report and asked Committee members to add recommendations and amendments.

Committee members questioned the scope and ability of the Department of Women in the Presidency to address access to basic services. It was recommended that the Department put pressure on implementing departments and ask what their plans are in this regard. It was agreed that MOUs would need to be developed to bind the departments to implementing plans.

 Another concern raised by several members was that the Committee had posed questions to the Department, and yet had not received answers. The Committee wanted answers in writing. A letter should be written to the Department to request these answers now, as the Committee needs them before the budget speech. Also, the Committee wanted to ensure the report to specify that the Committee see country reports before they are sent to the United Nations.

On the Commission for Gender Equality, concern was raised on whether proper performance management was being done.

The insertion of timeframes was suggested for the Recommendations in the Report which will be adopted on 6 May..

Meeting report

Ms Kashifa Abrahams, Committee Content Advisor, led the Committee through the draft report page by page, asking for comments and additions from Members. She provided a summary of what each section entailed and asked if there were any changes to make.

Ms Abrahams noted that the Observations and Recommendations sections were the key parts of the report and would stand out in the report, and thus input was critical.

A Committee member made comments in isiXhosa regarding interpreters.

The Chairperson responded that an interpreter was not available that day due to high demand.

Ms M Chueu (ANC) commented that the Committee must write to the Secretary of the National Assembly because that situation should not happen again. An interpreter should be provided to each Committee and that is the Assembly’s responsibility.

Ms D Robinson (DA) questioned the statement: “The Committee observed that the Department identified access to basic services as an issue and that it would put measures in place for women to access basics services but was concerned that this does not appear in the strategic plan.” She asked if this is the role of the Department to put those measures in place. How can this be done? It should be done in collaboration with other departments so that should be changed, since that Committee does not implement, it only monitors and advocates.

The Chairperson noted that the sentence should be changed.  

Ms Abrahams asked the Members for guidance on how to change it. How does the Committee want this highlighted in the “Observations” section? In order to make a recommendation, it must be reflected in Observations first.

Ms Robinson said that the only thing that the Department can do is put pressure on other departments to do what they are mandated to do. It is unfortunate that the Department cannot implement things themselves. Instead it needs to liaise with implementing departments and ask what their plans are.

Ms Chueu added that MOUs should be developed to bind the departments to implement plans.

Ms Chueu suggested that under Observations, the Committee acknowledged that the Department had raised access to basic service as an issue, but the Committee questions the scope and role of the Department in monitoring that. In the Recommendations, the Committee would note that the Department must make MOUs with other departments to ensure there is monitoring and evaluation.

Ms Chueu commented on another observation on the Department. For the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) programme, the Committee questioned how the Department would increase participation of girls in the programme. However, the Committee should also include training of teachers in maths and sciences. That should be a recommendation.

Ms Abrahams agreed, stating that the Committee wants to ensure that there is gender parity for teachers and lecturers as well.

Moving on to the observations on the Commission for Gender Equality (CGE), Ms Robinson mentioned that what concerned her at the CGE was whether proper performance management was being done. That was not identified. There was no point in appointing more people if the people already there are not working to their best ability.

Ms Abrahams added this concern to the Report.

Ms G Tseke (ANC) asked if this report would be published and if everyone would have access to it. On the observation questioning the relationship amongst the Department, the Premier’s Offices and the Provincial Social Development offices, she said this observation was not sufficiently specific. What is it that the Committee wants from the Premier’s offices? Also, the acronym “S&T” should be clarified as meaning Subsistence and Travel. It should be written out so that other people can understand the report.

Ms Tseke commented that the Committee had posed questions to the Department. Where will the responses fit into the document? Some responses have not been received yet.

Ms Robinson agreed that this was a very valid point. She asked about the written responses that the Department was supposed to send the Committee. Were those received? If so, they should be incorporated or at least referenced.

The Committee Secretary replied that written responses were not yet received from the Department, but these responses can be added.

Ms Robinson observed that the previous Chairperson was very insistent that the answers came quickly. Also, the Committee was unhappy with the responses that were given. The Committee wanted answers in writing. A letter should be written to the Department to request these answers now, as the Committee needs them before the budget speech.

The Chairperson replied that the secretary will make sure of that.

Ms Abrahams said that she will add the responses from the Department at the end of the list of Observations. However, for the things the Department has not answered, if the Committee is adopting the report tomorrow, those responses cannot be included.

Ms Robinson added that the Committee was concerned that the country gender reports were being tabled at the United Nations but had not gone through the correct processes in the Committee and Parliament. Will it be a problem if those answers are not included? That should not be ignored.

Ms Chueu did not want the report to use the phrase "The Committee asked for clarity". For the recommendation, the Committee must state that it wants the country report and it is the Committee’s right to see this particular report. It cannot go to the United Nations before the Committee sees it.  

Ms Abrahams amended this.

Ms Robinson said this should be emphasised by adding that it is a “serious concern" instead of just using “concern.” Also, the Committee was told the report would tabled in Parliament, but it was not presented to the Committee nor Parliament, and that is a serious omission.

Ms Abrahams continued with the observations on the CGE.  

Regarding consultants, Ms Robinson added that the Committee wants more information on the cost implications. 

Recommendations and Conclusion
Ms Abrahams went through the Recommendations. They were grouped so that it would be easier to read.  She noted that other Committee reports that at the bottom, a time frame would be specified.

Ms Chueu agreed that a timeframe should be added. But, the Speaker must follow up with the Department because everything goes to the Speaker before it goes to the Committee. Therefore the Speaker must monitor the timeframe.

The Committee Secretary agreed that a timeframe was needed. After this report has been adopted by the Committee, it will be debated in the House. A timeframe should specify that it must be done three months after adoption of the report by the National Assembly.

Ms Abrahams said she would make all these changes and send it to the Committee that day, so that it would be ready to be adopted the following day.

The meeting was adjourned.


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