The Commission for Gender Equality (CGE) presented its report on the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Protocol on Gender and Development, which had committed signatories to achieving 28 substantive targets aimed at promoting gender equality. The aim of the Protocol was to empower women socially, economically and politically, to eliminate discrimination, and to achieve gender equality through gender-responsive legislation, policies and projects.
The CGE gave a breakdown of South Africa’s progress and successes in each of the thematic areas contained in the Protocol. South Africa had succeeded in the thematic area of education and training. In the area of gender-based violence, the Protocol obliged the enactment and enforcement of legislation prohibiting all forms of this, and acts such as the Domestic Violence Act had been put in place for this reason. In the area of health, South Africa had managed to make progress in the area of sexual and reproductive health with the enactment of legislation such as the Choice of Termination of Pregnancy Act 92 of 1996, and had also made progress in the area of media and communication. Although there had been progress in terms of the enactment of legislation, the country was still struggling with its implementation. The major challenge was a lack of knowledge of the frameworks by the beneficiaries. Another major source of concern was the burden of poverty on women, but programmes had been put in place to assist women and children through social relief strategies.
The post-2015 agenda reflected new development challenges linked to the outcome of the “RIO+20” and the sustainable development goals developed in Brazil in 2012. There had been a strong proposal for a stand-alone goal on gender equality. Another significant item on the agenda for 2015 was Agenda 2063, which was aimed at rededicating the African continent to its development and acknowledging past successes and failures. South Africa had developed its own responses to Agenda 2063, with projects such as Project Ndabezitha which was advocating for the implementation of the Domestic Violence Act. The Commission was also actively monitoring compliance with international instruments and had produced reports on their findings. The Commission was currently undertaking the project of the African Gender Development Index (AGDI) which was a follow up to the pilot that had been conducted in 2005. The AGDI was a tool that allowed African policy makers and their partners to assess their own performance in implementing policies and programmes aimed at ending women’s marginalisation and achieving gender equality.
The Members highlighted some on the areas that they wished had been included in the report. The Deputy Minister for Small Business Development would have liked to have seen more reports of success in women’s economic empowerment, and more progress on the young girls who were the girls today but the women tomorrow. The Speaker of Parliament highlighted the need to focus on the plight of women in other racial demographic groups. This was reinforced by another Member, who insisted that there was a need to interact with women from different races and assess their needs. The CGE was also asked to focus on the plight of women with disabilities, as well as women living with HIV.
The AIDS Rights Alliance of Southern African (ARASA) addressed three major areas of concern -- HIV/AIDs, sex workers and the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) communities. AIDS was described as a feminised epidemic, because 60% of the people infected with AIDS were women. It was important to create an environment where women were empowered to negotiate condom use, even in marriage. The biggest challenge faced by sex workers was the criminalisation of sex work, which made sex workers a very vulnerable group of women. Sex workers could not access bank accounts and health care services, and were often victimised by police when they reported rape. There was a need to engage civil society such as SWEAT and Sonke Gender Justice on the issues affecting prostitutes, and to protect them better through legislation. The LGBTI faced a host of challenges, such as the violent crimes committed against lesbians -- the so-called corrective rape. Some of them faced discrimination at the hands of government officials. Many suffered from depression and were unemployed, which affected their quality of life. There was a need to create greater awareness among society and health care practitioners regarding the plight of LGBTI.
The Members said the presentation had provided insight into a very important issue, and they provided examples of challenges facing the LGBTI community from their personal experiences. They expressed interest in knowing what type of support mechanisms were in place for LGBTI. Were there counselling centres and any other support mechanisms? In many cases, LGBTI people turned to suicide.
Representatives from the Eastern Cape, North West and KwaZulu-Natal highlighted the challenges and strategies which they had each adopted in order to address the requirements of the Protocol. KwaZulu-Natal highlighted several social ills that they faced as a province that was mostly rural. They needed help to abolish practices such as ukutwala. In the North West, they were doing their best to take parliament to the people. They were engaging with women on issues that affected them and were helping to link women with the relevant government agencies that they could approach for assistance. In the Eastern Cape they managed to assist vulnerable women by engaging the police and ensuring that certain unsafe rural areas had police stations built within them.
Welcome by Ms Baleka Mbete, Speaker of Parliament
Ms Baleka Mbete, Speaker of Parliament, welcomed all the women to the precinct of Parliament. She said that it was their Parliamentary “bomama” (mother). She welcomed all the Members of Parliament, and gave a proposal of the day’s events, as contained in the programme.
Commission for Gender Equality on SADC Protocol on Gender and Development post-2015
Ms Fundisile Nzimande, Commissioner: Commission for Gender Equality (CGE) said that as a chapter 9 institution, the CGE participated in a number of activities in several domestic, regional and international for a in pursuit of driving the gender agenda. 2015 was also the year that the member states to the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Protocol had committed to achieving the 28 substantive targets for achieving gender equality. At the Millenium Development Goals (MDGs) summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in September 2010 they had realised that there had been a significant failure in achieving the MDGs, but they had not ignored the achievements made, especially in poverty reduction.
Ms Nzimande elaborated on the origins of the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development, which had been signed at the SADC Heads of State Summit held on 16 and 17 August 2008 in Johannesburg. The Protocol had set 28 progressive targets which were to be achieved by 2015. Among the targets, the major ones were that women would hold 50% of the decision-making positions in the private and public sector, and there would be revision, amendments and repeal by 2015 of all sex or gender discriminatory laws by 2015. Other targets were ensuring equal participation of women and men in economic policy formulation and their implementation by 2015, as well as the adoption of an integrated approach to reduce gender based violence by half by 2015.
The aim of the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development was to empower women socially, economically and politically to eliminate discrimination, to achieve gender equality through gender responsive legislation, policies and projects. The protocol among other things catered for education, health and conflict resolution. The SADC Ministers for Gender and Women Affairs had met on 2 June 2011. Of the 13 countries that had signed the Declaration in 2008, only seven had endorsed and ratified the Protocol with the SADC Secretariat. South Africa was one of those that had not ratified, even though they had played the leading role in the crafting of the Protocol. South Africa had ratified the Protocol only in 2012.
Ms Nzimande then spoke about the SADC Protocol thematic areas. The Protocol had three measurable targets for constitutional and legal Rights. These included endeavouring to enshrine gender equality and equity in constitutions and ensure that these were not compromised by provisions, by law and practices. The target also included reviewing, amending and/or repealing all discriminatory laws, as well as abolishing the minority status of women. The second target aimed at participation and representation in government. South Africa had ratified the SADC Protocol in 2012, but the issue of inclusion of women had been on the agenda since the beginning of the democratic dispensation and was supported by a section of the constitution of South Africa.
South Africa had success stories in terms of putting in place policies and legislative frameworks to ensure gender transformation in relation to the provisions of the SADC Protocol. The Independent Electoral Act showed that the outcomes of the 2014 elections had been characterised by an overall drop in the representation of women as elected public representatives, from 43% to 39.7%. The Employment Equity Act 55 of 1998 had been instituted to promote equity in the work place, and the Promotion of Empowerment and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act 4 of 2000 (PEPUDA) aimed to prevent discriminatory attitudes and promoting norms of decision-making. The Minister of Public Service and Administration had launched the Heads of Departments’ (HODs) Eight Principles Action Plan for Women Empowerment and Gender Equality in 2007, and the same principles had been institutionalised in 2008 for implementation by government departments. If implemented, the action plan would ensure that the public service achieved progress towards equity in the workplace. The Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA) had also developed guidelines for the implementation of the Employment Equity Act to assist departments in its implementation by ensuring that equity targets for women and people with disabilities were established and implemented through the recruitment strategies of the departments. The programmes were the Foundation Management Development Programme (FMDP), Emerging Management Development Programme (EMDP) and Advanced Management Development Programme (AMDP).
Ms Nzimande said that South Africa had made progress on the education and training thematic area of the SADC Protocol. Education was an important marker of progress in the ability for groups and individuals to access social and economic power. It was thus an important indicator of the positioning of women and men in any country. It was important to understand that availability, accessibility and acceptability of the education facilities were critical to compliance in terms of the provision of education in the country. In South Africa there were two departments of education -- Basic Education and Higher Education – and it had succeeded in creating a legislative framework in relation to education. Legislation had been promulgated, such as the South African Schools Act 1996, the National Education Policy Act and the South African Council of Educators Act 2000. Apart from legislation South Africa had also devised policies and guidelines. These were the guidelines for the provision of boarding facilities in public ordinary schools on 23 July 2012, and the rights and responsibilities of parents and learners and public schools in the Public School Policy Guide in 2005. These guidelines included improving the access to free and quality basic education to all, on14 June 2003.
Gender Based Violence was a form of discrimination which inhibited women’s ability to enjoy their rights and freedoms on the basis of equality with men. The Protocol obliged the enactment and enforcement of legislation prohibiting all forms of gender based violence. A legislative framework had been put in place in response to the provisions of the SADC Protocol, as well as other complementing international instruments, in addressing gender based violence. This legislative framework included the South African Constitution, the Domestic Violence Act, the Sexual Offences and Related Matters Amendment act and the DNA Act. Certain programmes had also been put in place, such as the re-establishment of Sexual Offences Courts, to be rolled out across the country by 2017. There were also victim empowerment programmes provided by different departments and civil society organisations, such as the South African Police Service (SAPS), and the Departments of Social Development (DSD), Health and Justice. Another important area where progress had been made was in the area of human trafficking, with acts such as the Human Tissues Act 65 of 1983, the Corruption Act 94 of 1992, the Prevention of Organised Crime Act 121 of 1998, the Refugee Act 67 of 1962 and the Trafficking in Persons Act 2013.
Ms Nzimande outlined South Africa’s progress on health, especially in respect of sexual and reproductive health. These rights rested on the recognition of the basic right of all couples and individuals to decide freely and responsibly the number, spacing and timing of their children and to have the information and means to do so, and the right to attain the highest standard of sexual and reproductive health. The legislative framework in relation to health included the Sterilization Act 44 of 1998, the Medical Schemes Act 131 of 1998, the National Health Act 61 of 2003 and the Choice of Termination of Pregnancy Act 92 of 1996. Policies on health, such as the Integrated School Health Policy, had also been developed. The government had also implemented the Integrated Nutrition Programme (INP), HIV counselling and testing policy guidelines, as well as the National Strategic Plan on HIV, sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and tuberculosis (TB). The SA National Aids Council (SANAC) had also been established with the objective of advising the government on HIV, AIDS and STI policy and strategy, and related matters. SANAC was also supposed to create and strengthen partnerships for an expanded national response to HIV and AIDS in South Africa, as well as to receive and disseminate all sectoral interventions on HIV and AIDS, and to consider challenges. The Department of Health’s 2012/2013 annual reports had indicated that it aimed to improve access to sexual and reproductive health. The three indicators were cervical cancer screening coverage, the couple year protection rate and the percentage of facilities with contraceptive services.
The area of media and communication encompassed the right to privacy, as envisaged in section 14 of the Constitution. This involved policies dealing with the information communication technology (ICT) policy review, broadcasting digital migration and broadband. Broadband was an enabling infrastructure for building the knowledge economy and information society, and for accelerating the socio-economic growth and development in South Africa.
Ms Nzimande talked about the implementation of the laws. South Africa was complemented by the global community, as well as other treaty bodies, for a good policy and legislative framework. One of the major challenges that had always been highlighted was a lack of knowledge of the frameworks by the beneficiaries. She said that no political will, and a lack of buy-in, had also been mentioned as hindrances in relation to the implementation of the SADC Protocol and other related international treaties. The United Nations (UN) had been having discussions on the post-2015 agenda, while the African Union had launched Agenda 2063, which had also kept the momentum of extending the post-2015 agenda and creating a 50-year target. The MDGs had made a real difference in people’s lives, and with strong leadership and accountability this progress had been expanded in most of the world’s countries by the target date of 2015. The 2015 agenda, however, entailed efforts to achieve a world of prosperity, equality, freedom, and dignity, and for peace to continue unabated. The 2015 agenda was therefore a continuation of the roadmap paved by the MDGs.
She then addressed the issue of poverty and the burden of poverty on women in South Africa. She said that 19 years after the adoption of a platform for action, most South African women still lived in poor conditions with meagre salaries, few skills, poor sanitation and inadequate basic necessities. However, South Africa had placed poverty reduction high on its agenda and had continued to heighten actions and policies to address it through a wide range of strategies. There were programmes in place to assist women and children through social relief strategies, and these programmes were under the auspices of the SA Social Security Agency (SASSA). Women in rural and remote areas constituted the majority of women in South Africa (57%). These areas were characterised by poverty, and women still had difficulties in accessing health and social services. There was a lack of participation in the decision making processes at the community level. Customs and traditional practices, prevalent in rural areas, prevented women from inheriting or acquiring ownership of land and other property. A further challenge was the fact that women had a high level of income poverty, a high rate of unemployment, and non-recognition of women’s time spent on unpaid care work.
With regard to the agenda post-2015, the UN was working with governments, civil society and other partners to build on the momentum generated by the MDGs. Member states as well as civil society organisations from all over the world had begun to engage in the post-2015 process, while academia and other research institutions, including think tanks, were particularly active on the issue. The post-2015 agenda reflected new development challenges and was linked to the outcome of “Rio+20”, the sustainable development goals (SDGs) which had emanated from Rio de Janeiro in 2012. The outcome of the Rio+20 – “The Future We Want” -- called for the creation of an intergovernmental open working group on SDGs. The SDG proposals contained 18 goals to be attained in 2030 and 169 targets covering sustainable development.
Ms Nzimande then shed light on Agenda 2063. The Organisation of African Union (OAU) had been formed in 1963 when several African countries were gaining their independence from colonialism (1960-1970). The OAU had been formed to assist African countries to advance the agenda for economic emancipation, which had led to the creation of continental strategies for economic development. However, all these development strategies were ineffective for African countries because they were never enshrined into the national development plans, except for the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD). Agenda 2063 had been formed during the 50th anniversary celebrations of the OAU/AU. The 50th anniversary Solemn Declaration entailed Africa’s commitment to acknowledging past successes and challenges. The AU had rededicated itself to the continent’s development and pledged to make progress in eight key areas. These were African identity and renaissance, plus the struggle against colonialism and the right to self-determination of people still under colonial rule. The next areas were an integration agenda, as well as the agenda for social and economic development. The fifth and sixth areas were peace and security and democratic governance, and the last two areas were determining Africa’s destiny and Africa’s place in the world.
Ms Nzimande then described South Africa’s agenda for 2063. South Africa had submitted two reports to the AU on the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM), one in 2007 and the second in 2011. The purpose of the exercise was to share with other peer African countries what South Africa had achieved over the past few years, in pursuit of the objectives enshrined in the Constitutive Act of the African Union. South African initiatives on Agenda 2063 included Project Ndabezitha, which advocated effective implementation of the Domestic Violence Act, the establishment of the Ministry of Women, as well as the implementation of the Public Service Gender Equality strategy, which had assisted government to attain the 50% target representation of women. South Africa was hosting the AU Summit and the theme was “2015 Year of Women’s Empowerment and Developments towards Africa’s Agenda 2063.”
The Commission was monitoring compliance with international instruments. It had produced three baseline reports on the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), the Beijing Platform for Action (BPA) and the MDGs. The reports presented the status of the country in terms of compliance and adherence to international standards. The Commission was currently undertaking the project of the African Gender Development Index (AGDI) which was a follow up process after the pilot that had been conducted in 2005. The AGDI was a tool that the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) had developed to provide member states with a monitoring mechanism for tracking their performance in implementing their international and regional gender commitments. The tool allowed African policy makers and their partners to assess their own performance in implementing policies and programmes aimed at ending women’s marginalisation and achieving gender equality. It consisted of two parts: the quantitative Gender Status Index (GSI) and the qualitative African Women’s Progress Scoreboard (AWPS). The AGDI was a valuable and comprehensive tool for streamlining reporting on all regional and international gender documents, such as the MDG, BPA, CEDAW, the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights, and the Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa. The AGDI was intended to address the lack of sex-disaggregated data and to overcome the technical challenges for tracking progress in the advancement of women and gender equality. In developing this index, UNECA hoped, among other things, to democratise statistics and qualitative monitoring tools that were easy to use and were effective, as well as to stimulate interdepartmental cooperation within the ministries in which it would be applied. There was a lack of gender disaggregated data, especially on the beneficiaries of social security, which made it difficult to measure progression in terms of poverty alleviation. In addition, there was a need to come up with strategies that would be suitable to the beneficiaries, to prevent the persisting dependency syndrome.
Ms M Chueu (ANC) commented that she would like to see solutions to all the problems raised. She understood that South Africa was a divided society and as African women, they were vocal about their oppression but did not know what affected other women. They therefore never came up with solutions that addressed these women from other racial groups. African women were therefore like a capitalist society, where the most vocal people were the people making profit. The problem was that the CGE had never asked these women what affected them, so they were not getting anywhere. The Commission was not going out there to find out what was happening. The focus was on rural women, but township women also had problems that needed to be addressed. They should challenge each woman to do what Cuba had done in 1959. Each person must have a person to educate, and to take responsibility for pulling that person to the level where they were. In this way, ten years down the line, they would have managed the problem. Information had to be shared with the person you were mentoring. When South Africa reverted to the SADC, they would have a strategy. Ms Chueu also asked the CGE to call in professional women to check what impact women in high positions were making. A meeting of female CEOs was supposed to be convened, and they were to be asked to get targets of women in their sphere of influence that they could impact. South Africa had made a lot of progress in terms of affirmative action, but this had benefited white women yet it was intended to benefit women of all races. The women CEOs must help to empower other women. She focused on the plight of female lawyers, saying that the judiciary had become independent but there were no women. They could call in the lawyers’ associations, and ask them what their problems were in respect of women. Another option was to call in the Minister and discuss the matter with her, because they were running out of time. Tanzania had overtaken South Africa, as they had gone quite far in empowering their women.
Ms C Majeke (ANC) cited the example of her son, who was considered an illegal immigrant in South Africa. She had gone through the whole process of getting an identity document, and it had taken two years. She had filed affidavits for a long time, but it had still been a long process. Her son had a Swaziland driver’s licence and a South African ID. It had been so difficult for her as a Member of Parliament, and she could imagine how difficult it was for other women. She then raised the issue of human trafficking and wanted to comment about an incident in Mthatha. A taxi had been discovered that was full of young children who were being stolen from pre-schools by Pakistani nationals. In this particular incident, a child had been snatched from an old lady outside Home Affairs. The old lady had screamed and some people had managed to help her. The child was being taken into a vehicle which was full of sweets and biscuits. The police and the army had responded quickly and had managed to cordon off the area. Therefore it was critical to ensure that children were safe and were not being trafficked. She also highlighted the problem of young girls marrying foreign nationals for IDs. These girls would have children and after a few years those children would be taken out of the country and given to the foreign nationals’ wives. She asked Members to go back to their constituencies and come back with information. She also talked about disabled children who still did not have grants, although some grants were being used by people who were not disabled. She had tried to report this to social workers, but nothing was being done. Most of the victims were disabled people who were being neglected.
The Speaker, Ms Mbete, asked what the issues in other communities in South African society were. These issues were not on the table. She had become aware a few years ago of the issue of incest in the Jewish community. She had mentioned this at a meeting and an elderly Jewish lady who was present had been embarrassed and had said that women could not speak up because they were sworn to secrecy. Parliament had also put in place policies on sexual harassment, and a scenario had arisen where a young journalist had had a relationship with a senior Member of Parliament and had been beaten up very badly. The young journalist had reported the matter, but had later dropped the case because she had been pressured by female Members. Young women needed support rather than condemnation, and women were part of the struggle. There was no need for them to be shy.
Ms Mbete then spoke about the African Peer Review Mechanism, where she had insight because she had been sent on one such review. The APRM was often quickly dismissed as not having teeth as it had faced many challenges since its inception 11 to 12 years ago. When members of the APRM were sent to other countries, this made heads of state feel threatened. The APRM was important for African states, as these reviews were not under a government’s control, but were a continental mandate. On these trips, the first port of call was the office of the president. Some presidents were receptive, but some of them were threatened. As women, they had to insist on finding out how the country was doing in terms of gender equality.
Ms Mbete highlighted that the APRM had been developed by President Mbeki and President Obasanjo of Nigeria. The advantages of the APRM were that it was up to a woman to get into a country and to every sector of that country and address them, and to empower them to understand that it was platform for them to speak honestly and not to be ashamed. Africans had to help themselves with their challenges. when the first APRM was conducted in South Africa, it had been defensive. Before the first round of xenophobia erupted, this had been highlighted by the APRM, and South Africa had denied it. The same thing had happened in Kenya where the APRM had highlighted certain issues and the Kenyans had denied it, thereafter there had been a huge explosion. Africans had to help each other and understand that the intention was not to attack or punish one another.
Ms Elizabeth Thabethe, Deputy Minister of Small Business Development, said that the report was a good basis for dealing with the problem issues. It was a pity that most women missed the workshop, because it had clarified a lot of the issues. She commended the CGE’s paper as being straightforward but wanted more detail on certain issues. The report had covered progress on education and poverty, but other streams had not been there. It had not dealt with the issue of women’s economic empowerment, the legislation that had been passed and its implementation and progress. She queried the term “most” in describing women that were living in poverty, and asked instead for the use of percentages. She also wanted clarity on the differences between urban women and rural women. For example, the Employment Equity Act empowered white women, and nobody else. Everyone else was discriminated against. She also wanted to know why the Commission was not putting emphasis on the economic sector. There were issues affecting women in the rural areas, such as ukutwala. She said it was necessary to look not only at older women but the girls of today, as they were the women of tomorrow.
Another question she raised was how girl children were doing academically. She had read a report that said most entrants in universities were now girls. There was therefore a shift from before, where young girls were not admitted to university. Now girls were excelling and going further. She also highlighted that there was no mention of the progress of women in business. Prior to 1994, women were not in business, but after 21 years there had been progress and there had been economic achievements, and not just in terms of social grants. She also agreed with the Commission that Parliament was under-reporting its achievements. One such achievement had been the training of women to be placed in boards. There were 300 women that had been trained on how to be members of a board.
Ms P Bengu (ANC) said that South Africa had implemented a comprehensive HIV and AIDS policy. She also touched on the issue of poverty and unemployment affecting women. During their oversight visits, the Committee had noted that women were recipients of grants and ARVs. After they took the ARVs and their health improved, their grants were eventually terminated and eventually their ARV treatment was also discontinued. At the SADC Protocol meeting, they had talked about these grants being terminated and the discontinuation of the ARV treatment. What was the Commission doing, and were the women being sent back to doctors to ensure that they continued the ARV treatment?
Ms S Nkomo (ANC), Deputy Chairperson, thanked the Speaker in absentia and spoke about the influence of women in positions of power, but who were not influencing change. For example, there was the issue of recycling, with the same women sitting on boards. She also addressed the issue of capacity building and economic challenges, and said there was a need to revive government’s commitment in this area. She focused on the issue of the provision of adequate prevention treatment and support to deal with HIV and AIDS, and said there still seemed to be problems 35 years after the scourge had been discovered. The statistics seemed to be going up instead of down. Other countries like Uganda, in 15 to 20 years had experienced a drop in the HIV rate and yet they had had no budget for condoms.
Ms Nkomo requested further elaboration on the issue of Project Ndabezitha, and wanted to know how this project came about. Poverty had the face of women, and this was an area of the MDGs that had not been met. She wanted Members to be honest about why the goals had not been met. She requested clarity on the issue of cervical cancer screening, and whether it was being done in urban or rural areas, as well as about other types of cancer, such as prostate and breast cancer. Another issue she touched on was the issue of human trafficking. An act had been promulgated on 1 June 2015 whereby minor children were required to travel with unabridged birth certificates. This was a serious matter. Some children had their organs removed to give to other people, so the promotion of such laws was important. They needed to engage the private sector and tourism so they could understand the challenges in this area.
Ms Chueu stated that there had been no assessment of the private sector in the report although the Commission was mandated to look at both the public and the private sector. The Commission had to come up with clear successes as it was being too economical with information. If something was repeated over and over again, it would become easy to recall. There was therefore a need to unpack poverty, unemployment and inequality. There was a need to be clear on what these terms meant. She narrated the plight of women on the coast who had indigenous knowledge on how to extract oysters. These women had taken the government to court in order to allow them to continue harvesting oysters for a living. This scenario was proof that there was a lot of knowledge at the country’s disposal which was not being used.
Ms Nkomo spoke about Project Ndabezitha, and said there was a component of society where there was a high degree of patriarchy. Traditional leaders had an attitude towards women, although the young traditional leaders seemed to have a better attitude. Some traditional leaders did not even cater for women and to them, women were minors. The situation was even worse when a woman lost a husband and was fighting ukungenwa (a traditional custom whereby a widowed woman automatically becomes her brother-in-law's wife, or is regarded as inherited by her brother-in-law), even though a woman had a right to say no. At times they would be harassed by the induna, or forced to accept it in a discreet way, such as reducing the size of their farm. She said the caucus needed to do oversight because women were getting a raw deal.
Ms T Memela (ANC) said that women had really suffered and the Speaker had managed to touch on sensitive issues. She did not know why women were keeping quiet when they covered up the rape of their children by an uncle. She asked why women condoned such practices and said it was time to tell men that enough was enough.
Ms Nkomo said that it was time to ruffle some feathers when examining those matters. When the Members examined these issues, they needed to tell their own stories. Members could not assist with healing unless they helped others. She gave the example of Members who were unmarried -- they were unmarried because they had left their husbands. They had had to divorce people who had put them down, and they had had to speak the truth. Many women were sitting in Parliament only because they did not have husbands.
The Chairperson said many questions had been put to the Commission. The Commission’s report had detailed what had been done, but there were no concrete suggestions about what they saw emanating from the challenges. As public representatives, there were other things they had wanted to hear, and the Commission had been established for this reason. She queried why no action plan had been brought to Parliament and why there had been no comment about the Kadar Asmal Report. She wanted to know what lessons had been learnt from that report.
Ms Lieketseng Mohlakoane-Motopi, Researcher, Commission for Gender Equality, said there was no concentration in research on minority groups, especially within South Africa. In compiling the report, there had been a lack of data from the relevant sectors. Most of CGE’s statistics on women were from Statistics South Africa. The majority of women were in rural and traditional settlements, and there were also some women in informal schemes.
She said that the social security agencies provided details only on the number of women receiving specific types of grants and did not specify the gender of those receiving the grants. Education was also a problem. They were receiving raw data on dropouts whereby a certain number of students entered universities, but later half of them did not graduate. She was of the opinion that the Cuba example would not be applicable in the South African context. She had participated briefly in the AU Summit, and women from the rural areas had been given the opportunity to relate their stories and how they wanted to be assisted. In this instance, they had made strides.
Ms Nkomo interjected, and raised a point of order on the issue of Cuba, saying there was a need to go deeper and separate the issues. However, the bottom line was that mentorship should be encouraged.
Ms Mohlakoane-Motopi said she agreed with the Member, and women had been given a chance to explain their plight. Women had been brought in from Benin, Cote D’Ivoire and South Africa, and this qualified as mentorship.
Ms Nzimande said that the CGE would work on integrating the suggestions in their future report. The Commission generally summarised the successes in order to provide a useful report. On the issue of race, the Commission wanted to focus on issues that affected men and women differently, regardless of race. She spoke about economic empowerment and said that banks were still reluctant to give women loans. She also touched on gender based violence, which was experienced by all races. The Commission had also made an input to the Muslim Marriage Bill in an attempt to improve the lives of men and women. She said Project Ndabezitha had been established through Memorandums of Understanding which had been signed with a number of traditional leaders and the National House of Traditional Leaders. There was a need to devise non-abrasive ways of working with the traditional leaders. There was a need to address the limitations of traditional leaders and how they dealt with matters. The aim was to try and ensure that domestic violence cases were not dealt with in traditional courts.
Ms Nzimande said that the private sector was being monitored through an agreement with the Employment Equity Commission. A number of reports by the Commission had been lodged with the Speaker. With regard to indigenous knowledge, the CGE had not yet dealt with this issue in relation to men and women. The Kadar Asmal Report was still in the Speaker’s possession and she was working with all the Chapter 9 intstitutions in this regard.
The Chairperson thanked the Commission for the report.
Presentation by AIDS Rights Alliance for Southern Africa (ARASA)
Ms He-Jin Kim, Regional Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) Programme Officer, ARASA, said ARASA was a regional organisation consisting of eight organisations in South and East Africa. The organisation was focusing on moving forward. Progress had been made in meeting the SADC Protocol targets, but many challenges remained. It was important to acknowledge that South Africa had a unique context-- it had a very unique constitution and emphasis on human rights. South Africa had also made great strides in gender parity in government. The legislative protocol did not necessarily lead to social change on its own. SADC Protocol did not focus on creating legislation and there were no measurable targets to monitor enforcement of any legislation.
She said she wanted to focus on three main topics, which were HIV and AIDS, sex work and LGBTI. HIV was a major issue in South Africa and 60% of people with HIV in South Africa were women, thus making HIV a feminised epidemic. There were many condoms available but there had no major decrease because HIV had a specific social environment, leading to HIV. It was important to understand what fuelled the HIV stigma. There was no environment where tools such as condoms could be used. It was still hard for married women to negotiate condom use. Men generally moved to mines and had multiple partners and returned home to their wives. Young women were also not allowed to talk about sexuality. There was a need to acknowledge the diversity of women. These groups of women were not living separately, but were interacting with each other. There had been progress in the plan for dealing with HIV, but sustainable change had to be ensured. She acknowledged that the SADC Protocol did refer to harmful cultural practices and a prevailing sense of patriarchy, and referred to the HIV Stigma Index which had serious concerns, such as underage women being sterilised against their will. Women still bore the brunt of the stigma.
The next area of concern was the area of sex work. This was a very vulnerable group, and South Africa still criminalised sex work. There was a need to exert pressure to secure sex workers’ access to rights. Sex workers could not report rape to the police, as they would get arrested or raped again by the police. They also had no access to bank accounts and health services. It was important to draw a distinction between sex work and human trafficking, which was a broader issue. Sex work was driven by socio-economic circumstances. Criminalising sex was criminalising people for their poverty. From a human rights perspective, one could not address human trafficking by criminalising sex work. It was important to work with the sex workers and to empower them to make the right choices. It was a controversial but important issue. In the context of human trafficking, it was important to address the issue. Women and girls were not the same -- women were adults and able to make certain choices that girls were not able to make. One could not simply implement policies and address them in the same way. There was a need for different approaches for different age groups.
Ms Kim then went on to address the issue of LGBTI and remarked that South Africa had been a paradise for LGBTI. It was the only country in the world that had included sexual orientation in its constitution. There was extraordinarily strong language that protected the LGBTI’s rights. These were people who did not conform to very strict norms and one had to understand the diversity of what people were. Heinous crimes were committed against LGBTI and it pained him to see civil society ignore this. These issues did not only affect gay and lesbian people but affected everyone. Often LGBTI were accused of fraud and were ridiculed at Home Affairs. They had difficulty in accessing education, and societal attitudes permeated into government institutions.
The Chairperson said the issue of sex work and LGBTI was interesting for them to understand. She wanted to know what the alteration of the Sex Description & Sex Status Act meant to LGBTI people. These issues did come up at various religious platforms, where people told about their personal experiences. By now, the Commission should be talking about LGBTI. Some people were denying their own children because they were LGBTI, and because they did not understand. Public representatives therefore had to learn a lot about this.
Ms Memela said some parents rejected their children because they thought it was just a game. She also said that there was a weakness in parents monitoring their children, as one could easily pick up if your child was LGBTI at adolescence. There was a proposal that there should be a group of doctors to deal exclusively with LGBTI people, because they were still being ostracised. She was to have a meeting later that week, as she had received quite a lot of letters around the issue. She also wanted to call in the judiciary and wanted to talk to them about rapes and assaults that were reported, but then nothing would be done. There was a lack of understanding, but LGBTI had to be accepted as part of society.
Ms Nkomo said the information received was very valuable, especially the fact that 60% of people living with HIV were women. Women were more disadvantaged, and she wanted more information because it was a large number of women who were affected. She wanted to know if there were public or private support centres for women with HIV. She also wanted to know whether transgender people were receiving therapy. Many of them turned to suicide, and there was a need to ensure that they were taken care of. Referring to the issue of hate crimes, she mentioned the incident of a young woman who had been stoned. She wanted to know how serious the problem was in other countries, and whether it was manifesting itself at such an alarming rate. If the LGBTI were being ostracized and not being given birth certificates, there had to be a lot of sensitivity around this area. Were pamphlets being distributed to educate people about the issue?
Ms Chueu said the Commission should not be treated too harshly, but they had to be conscious about issues that were being presented, such as the issue of 60% of people living with HIV were women. Ms Chueu said this was an oversight on the Commission’s part, as these issues had not been highlighted. She wanted more information on the matter.
Ms Mwaila (ANC) Ms Boitumelo Moiloa (ANC) said they had to work hard, even though South Africa had policies and Acts, as there was no monitoring and evaluation of the Acts. In future, it would be necessary to take stock of what steps to take and to make representations to the provinces. There was a need for information to be dealt with at grassroots level, as well as to address the stereotypical society, particularly on the issue of discrimination.
Ds M Khoza (ANC) wanted to comment on sex work. She said no programme had been designed to help them to assess their challenges, especially in relation to health. This was a particular concern of hers because she had a background in social work and had encountered sex workers during her work with street children. The sex workers were risking their lives and they got paid very little. She wanted to know what was being done to avert these high risks. Another challenge faced by sex workers was accommodation -- they had to find a place to sleep and they needed assistance. The little that they had made during that night was spent paying for accommodation.
Ms Kim said she hoped there would be future engagement on this issue. There were LGBTI organisations in every province. The problem with the organisations was that they were very small and did not always know how to approach Parliament. The Department of Health provided many services and the budget was big, but these were general services, such as testing and counselling. Any special services were being provided by civil society. In terms of counselling for LGBTI people, there was a counselling centre in Gauteng, two in Cape Town and one in the Eastern Cape. These organisations often struggled to provide services due to the volume of cases. There had been a centre at Baragwanath Hospital but it had been closed down. The biggest facility was at Groote Schuur Hospital, which had a gender clinic. These facilities were overburdened, and had no capacity to deal with these issues. Transgender people often suffered from depression, had no medical aid and were unemployed. There was a lack of education among health care professionals themselves, as the topic was not found in health care curricula. It was important to sensitise health care professionals, but it was difficult to get them to come to workshops.
Hate crimes were not necessarily on the increase, but the reporting of such crimes had increased. The problem, however, was the slow reaction of the authorities. A case in Khayelitsha had taken nine years to be heard, but the situation was slowly changing, as two cases were being heard this year. The Department of Justice’s response had not been good. In relation to the enquiry on hate crimes in Europe, she said that this was not a common phenomenon. It was also important to look at the context. The rate of gender based violence in South Africa was very high, therefore the rate of hate crimes against LGBTI people was also high. Organisations such as Sex Workers Education and Advocacy Taskforce (SWEAT) and Sonke Gender Justice were arguing for the decriminalisation of sex work and a moratorium on the arresting of sex workers, but this had not been pushed forward. This was a controversial issue, especially because other women’s organisations had not supported them. It was important to engage with these organisations and ask them how sex workers were going to be protected. He said Sonke was actually made up of sex workers, so they were the best organisation to engage. Sonke had experienced success in Cape Town with the Western Cape SAPS. They had also addressed the issues of arbitrary arrest and extortion. She highlighted the need to address the diversity of sex workers, as there were a lot of forms of sex work. Sex workers were working on the streets, but could be found only in the evening. There were a lot of very different ways in which sex workers could earn money.
Ms Mohlakoane-Motopi, from the CGE, said that she wanted to touch on the sex work issue. The Commission had released a position paper and a policy brief to mobilise for the decriminalisation of sex work. The Commission had also been in the media and engaged with organisations on the issue. The work in this area was on-going, and they had not been aware that there were organisations that did not know of the work which the Commission was doing with sex workers.
The Chairperson thanked the presenters.
Provincial priorities with regard to post-2015 SADC Protocol on Gender Equality
Ms Disapi (ANC), the representative of Kwazulu-Natal, said she was disappointed because she thought the Commission would have touched on the area of early pregnancies in schools, violence in schools, drug abuse and forced marriages. As the province was more rural, these things were happening on a daily basis. She also wanted to hear more about the package for people with disabilities. It was common knowledge that they were still dealing with various social ills such as domestic abuse, rape and murder of women, especially elderly women and girl children. She wanted to highlight the massive achievements that had occurred since the government had come into power in 1994. It was a matter of considerable pride that many of the rights and freedoms women had fought for were now entrenched in the constitution. Gender equality was now a constitutional imperative and was enforced by various legal instruments including the Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act (PEPUDA), the Employment Equity Act and the Civil Union Act. The representation of women in Parliament had increased phenomenally. Similarly, in terms of the provincial legislatures, representation of women had drastically improved. In their provincial legislature, most of the institution’s presiding officers were women including herself, as the chairperson of the quality of life of the women’s caucus. The Deputy Chairperson of committees was a woman, the deputy chief whip was a woman and many committees were chaired by women. Even the secretary of the legislature was a woman.
A census conducted by the Businesswomen’s Association of South Africa had shown that gender balance remained slow in the private sector, and therefore the struggle had to be intensified for the representation of women in the private sector. The private sector needed to take serious introspection to see how it had fared, compared to the public sector. The National Developmental Plan was a developmental blueprint for the country, and advocated infrastructural development. Women needed to look at this plan through a gender lens to see how they could fit in and how it could be used to advance women’s economic interests. Women were still on the economic periphery and the majority of women could still be found in the informal sector working as hawkers on city pavements and at taxi ranks. There was therefore a need to integrate them into a formal economy.
In 2013 when the women’s parliament was sitting, a number of resolutions had been taken, calling on government and the private sector to intervene in alleviating the plight of women of Kwa-Zulu Natal, especially in the rural areas. These resolutions included the need for the government to strengthen partnerships with rural communities to eliminate the culture of ukutwala. The government had to award feeding scheme contracts to women co-operatives. In order to promote women’s empowerment, monitoring mechanisms had to be put in place to curb fronting and ensure wealth distribution. Government had to ensure that projects that were created for women and aimed at eliminating poverty, were long term based and sustainable. Government had to also ensure that tractors were widely distributed to areas that were headed by women. Government had to ensure that sexual offences courts were prioritised to ensure that the roll out of these courts was not hampered by obstacles that led to their demise. Government was also supposed to conduct an audit on the affirmative action policy, to ascertain its relevance. Government had to ensure that more women were promoted to managerial positions and 50% representation had to be ensured in all government departments. It should consider giving financial assistance to people with disabilities towards transport costs when seeking grants, and had to employ more staff and assure the provision of refreshments for those awaiting assistance.
Ms Mwaila (ANC), Ms Boitumelo Moiloa (ANC) from the North-west Province. apologised for not bringing a formal report from the province. This was because they had not elected the person who was chairing the women’s caucus. In their last sitting they had been told that they should choose a person to deal with gender issues as a representative on behalf of the province. The province would later e-mail a formal report.
She summarised what the province was doing in terms of addressing women’s issues. The provincial Speaker had a programme in her office. The Speaker, her deputy and the secretary were all women. However, there were very few women in the legislature because most of the women had been taken to the executive side, and they had been left with three women. The Speaker had a programme that dealt with women’s issues, and through this programme they were taking parliament to the people. When they took parliament to the people, they focused on the issues raised by women about themselves and took different cases and referred them to the relevant departments. After the referrals, the legislature monitored the progress in terms of the referrals. There had been an incident of a child who was forced to sleep with a teacher in order to get progression. She had taken the case and they had managed to get the case to the relevant department and were monitoring the progress. She added that the rest of the plans would be delivered later, as she could not present on issues for which she had not been given a mandate.
Ms D Nkomose (ANC) went straight to the eight strategic priorities of the province. The first priority was speeding up growth and transforming the economy to create decent work and sustainable livelihoods. There was a massive programme to build social and economic infrastructure, rural development, land and agrarian transformation, as well as food security. They also aimed to strengthen education and the human resource base, to improve the health profile of the province and to intensify the fight against crime and corruption. The province was also focusing on building a developmental state and cohesive and sustainable communities.
She then highlighted 12 practical areas of issues of concern. These areas were women and poverty, women and health, violence against women, women and armed conflict, women in the economy, women in power and decision making, institutionalised mechanisms for the advancement of women, women and the media, women and the environment, and lastly, the girl child. She provided a situational analysis from the fourth and fifth term. In the fourth term, of 63 members of the legislature, there had been 29 women and in 2014, out of 10 MECS, five of them were women. In 2014, out of 17 chairpersons of portfolio committees, six of them were women. In the fifth term there had been a significant improvement in all the previously mentioned committees. Most notable was the fact that the Speaker and Deputy Speaker were both women.
As the way forward goals, the Eastern Cape wanted to engender awareness and respect for the human and socio-economic rights of women and children. They also intended to engage in public participation from 27 to 30 July. Last year, they had had public participation as a build up towards 9 August and had included legal experts from the legislature and educated people on issues of maintenance and their rights. They had also engaged on issues of girls married to foreigners, and the danger that they were in. They had visited the courts that were not sympathetic towards women’s issues. They had also visited police stations that had not taken rape seriously, thereby making women afraid to approach those police stations. They also intended to promote the women’s caucus’ mandate on gender equality. They had provided support to the women’s caucuses in Parliament. She highlighted the challenge in Eastern Cape, when circumcisions take place in June. They had clubbed together with the Imbumbayama Nkosikazi, and were on board to eliminate the death of boys. They had also collaborated with the Commission on Gender Equality and the Human Rights Commission in dealing with issues affecting women and children.
Ms Nkomose went through the programme of action, which included being responsive to gender-based violence and following up on such cases. Another goal was to enhance public participation through the public participation week. They would take opportunities to interact with the communities. They were also formulating educational programmes that sought to reduce child mortality and improve maternal health. They had launched a campaign against harmful cultural practices. They had an issue in Mzamba, where women’s wombs were removed from them while they were still alive. As a women’s caucus, they had visited that area, and had built some houses for the victims in consultation with the Human Settlements MEC, who was a woman. Their goal was to ensure political tolerance when organising women’s events, and they had engaged with municipalities to form their own caucuses. Another goal was to enhance the participation of women in political, economic and social life through activities that changed people’s lives. They also wanted to encourage men to be potential partners in campaigns to end gender-based violence. They aimed to influence gender-sensitive planning and budgeting, as well as accountability on gender mainstreaming.
They wanted to maintain sound working relations with stakeholders and to ensure female representation in senior management in all spheres and levels of government. One of their objectives was to engage in capacity building and information sharing programmes, to strengthen the leadership and public participation. Another objective was to work with business and traditional leaders and all women’s formations in public participation. They wanted understand the legal environment around gender equality and women empowerment, and encouraged their legal teams to go and educate people about the constitution, policies and their rights.
She concluded by showing a photo of someone who had been hacked to death by a Malawian national. This had been in one of the areas they were going to visit and assist the family in whatever way they could, including sending a team to check on the family, as well as social workers. There was also the Ndabakazi issue. A serial killer had killed about 25 single women who were staying with their grandparents. The serial killer had been doing this for about two consecutive years. As women, they had been there to assist those women until the perpetrator was found, and sentenced to three life sentences. They had managed to talk to the police and the commissioner into building a police station in that rural area. They were still going to visit the areas as a build up to Women’s Month. The multi-party women’s caucus acknowledged the priority areas.
The Chairperson thanked the provinces for their reports and the progress. She hoped the provinces that were not present would provide their reports. She asked Ms Chueu and Ms Nkomo to summarise the proceedings of the day and the resolutions of the day, if there were any.
Summary of Workshop
Ms Nkomo said that it was quite an interesting day, with valuable input from the Chairperson. There were not many people who had made presentations but so far the people that had come had given them valuable programmes. She thanked the Commission on Gender and Equality for their valuable information, which they had worked on while they were sitting there. They had come up with resolutions that Ms Chueu would go through. She asked the presenters to take note that as part of the Committee’s oversight function, they would be interrogating certain issues and ruffle some feathers, but this was part of their job for the sake of ensuring that things moved forward. She applauded the provinces that had honoured the invitation from the Committee, and told them that they would definitely be interacting with them, visiting them and doing oversight.
Ms Chueu read out the resolutions for the Multi-Party Women’s Caucus Workshop on the implementation of the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development and the post-2015 agenda. They supported the post-2015 agenda for the sustainable development goals to include a stand-alone goal on gender equality, noting the African Union Agenda 2063 and welcoming the declaration of 2015 as the year of women’s empowerment and development towards Africa’s agenda 2063. They also recognised the importance of women Members of Parliament using their influence to impact on the lives of ordinary women through their work. They therefore resolved the following:
1. In the absence of the legislated quotas, they needed to advocate in political parties ahead of the 2016 local government elections to input a 50/50 quota.
2. To continue to lobby for quotas in order to reach a 50/50 level in provinces and national government, whether through reviewing existing legislation or initiating new policies. Quotas should not relate only to political decision making within the provinces, but also had to apply to all levels of society.
3. Monitor existing gender equality legislation and look at resources, improve oversight to improve implementation and ensure that they had a positive impact on the lives of ordinary women.
4. There was a need to focus on women of all races across all sectors, and women had to be dealt with not as a homogenous group -- they had to be separated in terms of rural women and township women.
5. Ensure effective public participation by engaging directly with women to see that their interests were adequately represented and that there was adequate continuous engagement with civil society.
6. Ensure that women were mainstreamed into the economy and make sure they benefited from legislation aimed at ensuring equal participation.
7. Review gender responsive budgeting within departments to ensure adequate resources were directed towards gender equality.
8. Provide gender disaggregated data to all the departments for more evidence-based policy making and to ensure that programming for women begins to address their particular needs more accurately.
9. Encourage the mentoring of women in all sectors in order for them to take up positions of decision making, including in the judiciary, the private sector and the public sector institutions.
10. Ensure that programmes in government adequately addressed women’s particular reproductive health challenges, including early screening for cervical cancer and the continued high HIV infection rate amongst women.
11. Continue to work to integrate the country’s approach to dealing with gender-based violence.
12. Continue to work to ensure that legislatures were gender-sensitive institutions that adequately dealt with issues such as sexual harassment, fair parental leave for both men and women, and adequate facilities to accommodate all Members of Parliament.
13. There was still a need to put more emphasis on issues affecting persons with disabilities.
14. Ensure that they harness the indigenous knowledge of women better, including traditional medicine and indigenous farming methods.
15. To ensure the enforcement of legislation meant to protect the rights and interest of vulnerable groups, including the LGBTI communities.
16. To deal directly with patriarchy and its social and cultural and economic manifestations, and for both male and female Members of Parliament, in their leadership capacity, to promote and engage with and encourage gender parity.
The Chairperson thanked all the presenters that had managed to come -- it was not about numbers, but what was important was what had come out of the discussions. What was also important was for the Members to understand from the people that they had invited what areas were experiencing challenges in relation to the laws that they were passing in Parliament. This would enable them, as public representatives, to do their work when they went to constituency offices.
The Chairperson thanked the staff of Parliament who had assisted with organising the workshop. She also thanked the Members for being leaders that were concerned, and for their active participation.
The meeting was adjourned.