National Development Plan & Transformation of Economy to encourage Women's full participation: roundtable discussion day 1

Multi-Party Women’s Caucus

01 September 2015
Chairperson: Ms R Morutoa (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Deputy Speaker gave an introductory address in which he  discussed the strategy adopted by Parliament, naming the five priorities of strengthening oversight and accountability, enhancing public involvement, deepening engagement and involvement in international faffairs, strengthening cooperative governance and strengthening legislative capacity. He said that with better organisation, with more intense and focused participation, appropriately supported by budget, then the quality of work and assessment of implementation of the work would be concrete.

The Chairperson of the Roundtable, also the Chairperson of the Women's Multiparty Caucus, noted that a key measure for ensuring gender transformation and equal participation between men and women was the proper allocation of budget, to ensure effective policy and legislative changes. The link between economic and political empowerment was key to enhancing the equal participation of men and women in decision making. Economic resources should be accessible to both women and men in order to reverse inequalities between them. This Roundtable presented a strategic focus on the attainment of the National Development Plan's statements around women, as well as the role of gender responsive budget in attaining the goals set out in the NDP.

The Director General of the Department of Women in the Presidency spoke about engendering the NDP, which was a constant reminder that there was a constitutional dispensation in South Africa that put gender equality and women’s empowerment very firmly as a principle in the Bill of Rights and the various sections of the Constitution, and that was where the mandate must ultimately be derived. She stressed in particular that no matter how good the legislation, including the Constitution, the lived experiences of women must reflect the sound principles. Similarly, there was no point in having beautifully crafted and engendering policy documents if they were not actually put into effective practice. For all government departments, the main focus and responsibility, was to ensure that their programmes and service delivery were gender sensitive and responsive. She discussed and analysed the 14 government outcomes. She also described what all departments had to do to facilitate the work of her Department, particularly in relation to good and disaggregated data, and reminded all participants that women from all classes, races and areas had suffered.

Ms P Bhengu, Whip of the Portfolio Committee on Women, introduced and explained the layout, content and purpose of the recently prepared Parliamentary Manual for the Mainstreaming of Women, Children and Persons with Disabilities, and commended the Committee and Research Units of Parliament who had been responsible for its preparation.

Prof Jahed, Director of the Parliamentary Budget Office, gave a presentation on how National Treasury and other departments must approach gender responsive budgeting and emphasised the need for there to be a focus on gender equality and efficiency in planning, programming and budgeting. He distinguished between gender budgets and gender mainstreaming, described some of the experiences in other countries, noted that South Africa was a leader in many respects and compared the position also in the region.

Participants raised questions and held discussion on the need to ensure that both the girl and boy child must be considered and educated from a very young age, questioned what was being done for the specific needs of girl children, particularly at school level, and questioned the position of widows who were destitute while awaiting the winding up of estates, widows under customary law, the effects of poverty on women in particular, what was being done to promote agricultural programmes and cooperatives for women, and education. Questions were asked whether there was provision for foreign women in South Africa, and their access to basic services, and the Department was asked for termination of pregnancy statistics and to what extent there was counselling given to teenagers. Other questions and comment addressed the need to ensure that older women were able to be gainfully employed. Members throughout agreed on the need to ensure that budgets followed programmes and stressed the need for all women (in particular, but men were not to be excluded) to address the issues as affected and activist individuals, irrespective of their political affiliations. 

Meeting report

Address by Deputy Speaker of the NA

Mr L Tsenoli (ANC), Deputy Speaker of the NA, gave the welcoming address. He noted that he and the Deputy Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces, four Chairpersons, the Multiparty Caucus and the steering committees, were responsible for what happened in the sectoral parliaments, and thus had to manage and work with Members of Parliament, and coordinate and work with all specific sectors. Similar to the Youth Roundtable that looked at the state of youth in South Africa, the Women's Roundtable focused on advancement of women. There had also been a roundtable on children in the past. The reason for the discussion was not only to implement the vision of the country as contained in the Constitution, to create a non-racial, non-sexist, democratic society that was prosperous. The specifics of doing that would involve institutions such as Parliament, and its work in overseeing the work of the executive, to ensure that what was agreed upon to create that kind of society actually occurred in the practical programmes of more than 30 national departments, and at the provincial and administrative level.

The strategy adopted as Parliament identified five priorities within its framework: namely, strengthening oversight and accountability, enhancing public involvement, deepening engagement and involvement in international forums, strengthening cooperative governance, and strengthening legislative capacity. Part of the work done to advance the equality provisions in the Constitution and many of the country’s laws involved specific work to advance the situation of women. There was also overall work to promote gender equality.

The ability to make an impact was dependent not only on the planning behind the agreement to have the sectoral parliament, but also effective monitoring and evaluation of this work, which was a critical component of the oversight work done by Parliament. At this event, following up past work, the Fifth Parliament would emphasise its attempt to become activist in character; not only organising events that were unconnected and unrelated but working, as it was on this event, on a series of events of an activist nature, focusing on the practical implementation of what was contained in the legislative framework and the Constitution. That responsibility would call on Members of Parliament, provincial legislatures, members of organised society including organised women’s formations and young peoples’ formations, to make critical input. Such inputs were made in the past in the committees of Parliament and in specific public hearings held in various parts of the country. When everyone came together in this fashion, it was necessary to emphasise and remember input already given. In the Third Parliament the Speaker had spoken often about a series of activities aimed at capturing voices of women across society, about their condition at that moment and having work published, including art, oral testimony and handwork, which were displayed in institutions to remind everyone that actions were needed to make a reality some of the wishes expressed by those women, as reflected in the Bill of Rights in the Constitution.

In regard to one priority – to intensify interaction in the international forum - a series of activities happened that were relevant to what was being discussed. The SADC Parliamentary Forum had agreed that the Forum must be turned into a regional parliament to do oversight in the member states. One of the key focus areas now being attended to was the policy framework for gender responsive oversight work by parliaments locally and in the region. About a week ago, the regional forum examined the management of mineral resources in the region, the role of women in that area of the economy, the kind of work that was under way, issues around gender equality in the mining industry, and why, throughout the value chain, there was a lack of participation of women.

South African delegates had just returned from the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association Conference in Kenya. Part of the work done there was to receive a report on the progress, since Beijing, on the global commitments made to the advancement of gender equality. Part of the ability to interact in these international forums was dependent on the feedback from society, so that those South African delegates would be able to produce concrete feedback on the progress being made. It had acknowledged the strengths of certain countries and pulled along those lagging behind in advancing quotas of women in key decision-making positions. It was now also possible to have mechanisms for assessing content of programmes undertaken for gender sensitivity, which was important work regionally, continentally and globally. South Africa was refusing to work in programmes that were not gender sensitive. None of the decisions taken by government should go without the scrutiny and input of Parliament, and this included global commitments regarding gender equality.

It was hoped that the changes made to the sectoral Parliament would contribute to this work. The steering committee and multi-party committees expected that activities would be undertaken throughout the year, from August to August, so that when the medium term strategic framework was drafted (which, as he reminded Members, was a five year plan of government to implement the decisions made) an impact could be made on agendas, such as the agenda of the current Roundtable.

With better organisation, with more intense and focused participation, appropriately supported by budget, he asserted that there would be concrete quality of work and assessment of implementation of the work and there would be even better ways of organising and coordinating this regular event. Effective coordination between the National Parliament and other legislatures, communities and community organisations was an important part of the work that needed to be done. It was contained in the priorities, so everyone needed to use the opportunity to fashion and shape the agenda.

Mr Tsenoli said that increasing cooperation was also happening in the Speakers Forum, which was a forum that brought together parliamentarians from all nine legislatures. Mr Tsenoli had been requested to be the coordinator for the gender focus group. The agenda for those programmes would be derived from this forum. He was looking forward to the insights to come from this event and he wished the attendees constructive energy.

Address by Chairperson
The Chairperson stated that there would have to be a change to the agenda, as Mr R Tau, Deputy Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces,  had not been able to catch his flight and his presentation on Sector Parliaments would be moved to the following day.

She noted that Women's Month officially closed on the previous day. In this month, the Department of Women in the Presidency (the Department) had celebrated women who had been united in moving South Africa forward. Celebrations sought to highlight the contribution of women to South Africa and the liberation struggle, and focus on the impact of existing policies on women and gender equality in the past 21 years.

She added that on 9 August 2015, President Jacob Zuma had launched the first report on the Status of Women. She noted that this year was of particular significance to women, as Women's Month was twenty years after the Fourth World Conference on Women and adoption of the Beijing Plan of Action. In addition, the world was, in this year, assessing the achievements towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)  and setting new sustainable development goals. Furthermore, 2015 was declared by the African Union as the African Women’s Year of Empowerment and development towards the African agenda 2063. This year the South African Development Community (SADC) was reviewing progress made on goals set by the SADC Protocol on Gender Development.

The goal of gender equality had progressed by leaps and bounds in the past two decades since the advent of democracy in South Africa. This was evident both in how South Africa performed on the international and regional indices, and in the social and gender index for the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). South Africa ranked low in the category of gender discrimination in 2014. On the World Economic Forum’s gap index, South Africa had consistently remained in the upper levels, reaching 18th position out of 142 countries.

Based on the 2014 elections, South Africa currently ranked seventh in the world classification, with 40.8% classification of women in Parliament. Parliamentary representation was a significant indicator of a country’s priorities regarding women’s rights, but she stressed that their representation alone was not as important as ensuring that they also occupied key decision making positions within Parliament. In this regard, the South African Parliament had mixed performance. Of the five presiding officers in the National Assembly (NA) and the National Council of Provinces (NCOP), women occupied 60% of leadership positions. In addition, out of the 38 committees in the National Assembly, 57.9% were chaired by women, and the NCOP had 18.8% representation of women. Within Cabinet, 42.8% of national ministers were women, and 17 out of the 37 deputy ministers were female, constituting 45.9%.

United Nations Women had begun using the slogan Planet 50/50 in 2030, to drive action towards an equal world by 2030. Similarly, South Africa’s National Development Plan (NDP) had a blueprint to guide state action to eliminate poverty and reduce inequality by 2030, and the UN Women's slogan presented the ideal opportunity to incorporate gender equality. The NDP recognised the need for an inclusive and integrated rural economy, with the aim of implementing effective land reform, ensuring food security, developing the potential of industries such as agro-processing, fishing and tourism. It further recognised the need to transform the economy to encourage the full participation of women, and highlighted the public sector as an avenue for extending employment to women.

A key measure for ensuring gender transformation and equal participation between men and women was the allocation of budget to ensure effective policy and legislative changes. The link between economic and political empowerment was key to enhancing the equal participation of men and women in decision making. Economic resources should be accessible to both women and men, in order to reverse inequalities between them. Thus the Women’s Roundtable presented a strategic focus on the attainment of the NDP as it related to women, as well as the role of gender responsive budget in attaining the goals set out in the NDP.

Dismantling of patriarchy was still a central goal in the women’s rights movement towards achieving substantive equality for women. Despite progressive legislative progress, women in South Africa still faced many challenges. About 56% of female homicides were committed by an intimate partner. Cervical cancer affected one out of every 41 women and killed approximately eight women daily. About 51.3% of female headed households were poor, compared to 29.5% of male headed households.

Access to basic social services and overall female participation in Parliament dropped by 1 point in the last election. This was a clear indicator that there still needed to be vigilance about ensuring women’s rights and representation. The ultimate role of MPs was to represent the needs and interests of their constituents, the majority of whom were female. Both male and female MPs from all political parties had to proactively pursue the goal of gender equality if they were to fulfil their mandate. The South African Parliament had the numbers to ensure that gender equality became a reality for ordinary women and men. It was vital that there was a robust Women’s Caucus, and even more important for all committees to actively drive a gendered agenda. In this way, Parliament would be able to make real the aspirations of South African women.

Address by Jenny Schreiner: Engendering the NDP and Gender Responsive Budgeting

Ms Jenny Schreiner, Director General, Department of Women in the Presidency, noted that particularly when women were put together in a room like this, the discussion really was engendered and things moved forward. Ms Schreiner appreciated the way in which engendering of the NDP and gender responsive budgeting had been combined. Mechanisms and tools of gender mainstreaming were spoken about, without actually looking at the content of the programmes being driven. The Medium Term Strategic Framework (MTSF) was a five year programme, but each year there was an opportunity to review and refine. The first draft of government departments' strategic plans were submitted on the previous day, and this gave them an opportunity to look at how things might be done differently moving forward.

Engendering the NDP was a constant reminder that there was a constitutional dispensation in South Africa that put gender equality and women’s empowerment very firmly as a principle in the Bill of Rights and the various sections of the Constitution, and that was where the mandate needed to be derived from ultimately. Putting together those threads really enabled departments to look at how their work was engendered and, most importantly, how they engendered the actual delivery. The Constitution may be wonderful, but if the day to day living experience of women was not reflecting those principles, there would still be a long way to go. A beautifully engendering policy document not translated into practice would remain a policy only. Government departments' main focus and responsibility was to ensure that their programmes and service delivery were gender sensitive and responsive.

Any document could be approached by asking whether it was sufficiently engendered and whether it gave particular details. Ms Schreiner suggested that the right approach was to see that the strength of the 2030 development plan was to put very clearly the issues of addressing equality, poverty and unemployment firmly on the agenda. The NDP had been cascaded into the MTSF and the 14 government outcomes, which feed into the strategic plans of government and then into departments' annual performance plans. As planning was cascaded down into the more detailed level, were departments actually looking at the gender targets and agendas?

Sometimes people fell into the trap of saying that there were particular areas of importance to women, and immediately jumping to issues such as gender-based violence, reproductive health and HIV/AIDS. All were valid, but she suggested that instead, people should look to the interconnections between these challenges faced by women and also other challenges like questions of economic empowerment and inclusion, employment opportunities, women taking the larger burden of domestic work and community care work. For example, if a woman was going to work every morning, but had an abusive spouse at home, that women would not be physically, psychologically or economically in the right state to be a productive worker. If a woman was subjected to physical or emotional abuse, it was likely that her sick leave would be escalated which had consequences on that woman’s ability to be productive, and consequences on the company for whom she worked. There was therefore a need to approach the NDP, MTSF and the outcomes in a more integrated manner.

There was not one of the 14 outcomes that was not relevant to the women of South Africa. The real complexity of measuring impact of the Department of Women's programmes on the lives of women meant that the Department needed to be able to disaggregate even the categories of women. The Department’s main challenge was to disaggregate data so that it was gender visible, but then there was a vast difference between the lived experiences of women who lived in an informal settlement as opposed to those who lived in Constantia. Access to basic services was vastly different in those environments. Taking it further, even if a person lived in an informal settlement, in an urban environment, she would have tertiary institutions and public hospitals nearby, despite whatever transport issues there may be. For those living in the deep rural areas, they had much further to travel to get to quality care, for instance, for a medical condition. There were increasingly more facilities being built near to settlements, but these were not the quality of urban state hospitals, and distance still remained a problem. For this reason, she stressed again that the data had to be not only gender aggregated and spatially specific, but wealth differentials needed to be addressed. The particular impact of some of those outcomes for different cultural, spatial and wealth groups of women must be taken into account.

Ms Schreiner said that in regard to the quality of basic education, there were significant gains made in South Africa in terms of getting the girl child to school, and the parity level was important. Using gender parity as an indicator of impact was a useful tool, and it was easy to use gender parity in schooling. In some areas it was more complex to be able to determine parity, for example, when deciding whether to allocate housing to a male or a female, or to allocate to a family that consisted of men and women. More technical work needed to be done around gender indicators and targets and planning.

In terms of long and healthy lives for South Africans, the life expectancy was not yet comparable. There were great strides made with lowering the rates of HIV/AIDS for women, particularly for the 15 to 24 year age group. Reproductive health was one of the key dimensions of looking at a long and healthy life for South African women. The Department of Health already had gender related information, not just recently but trendable information over the past 20 years.

Looking at whether South Africans were and feel safe, the immediate concern was the impact of gender-based violence, which was critical, and major gains had been made in terms of policy and initiatives. The problem was not solved; it required a national effort, and that was where engendering the NDP was crucial, because the NDP was not only a plan for government but was a national plan. There needed to be a way to ensure that in stakeholder work and in partnerships, the Department’s social partners and government were all contributing to the achievement of those objectives. In the 1996 Crime Prevention Strategy, there was a major analysis on the impact of urban design on crime, and this was particularly relevant for women, as they became more involved in the economy and left home early to get their public transport for work, so the streets needed to be well lit.

(The Chairperson responded to a question asked in isi-Zulu at this point)

Ms Schreiner continued that decent employment through inclusive growth meant ensuring that women’s participation in the economy was enabled, both in the sense of job creation, and showing that the unemployment levels of women and particularly young women were addressed, but also by showing that women were able to take their place as full participants in the full arena of the economy. Women were often a part of the informal economy.

(Once again there was an interruption by Hon Khawula, in Zulu, regarding interpretation. The Chairperson later clarified that there were some technical challenges regarding interpretation, but this would be available to accommodate the specific requests made).

Ms Schreiner continued that the next government outcome was linked to whether there was success in engendering employment strategies, to reach a skilled and able workforce. Basic education must go through to further training and development of the skills that were necessary for that economic growth path, otherwise women would end up becoming marginalised because they did not have the skill sets to be able to participate.

An additional challenge was the patriarchy of the work environment. The Department was interested to see that women mining engineers often did not find work in the mining field. Those were some of the challenges that needed to be looked at, and again, this emphasised the importance of indicators.

She stressed that in regard to achieving vibrant equitable sustainable rural communities contributing towards food security for all, women in the rural communities were a very important force. That outcome was particularly focused on women’s inclusion in agriculture, either as agricultural farm workers or as cultural smallholders, and it had to be seen if there was real development of cooperatives in the rural environment in which women played a vital role.

Although all 14 outcomes could be looked at to identify the importance and impact on women, Ms Schreiner said that another point was whether the gender targets and indicators had been successfully identified, in regard to the MTSF, that would enable the Department to measure the progress over the MTSF period. There were outcomes in which there were targets, but overall there needed to be recognition that the Department had not necessarily disaggregated the data. It was interesting that when the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries was asked, in relation to outcome 4, to address the responsibility for ensuring that the agricultural incentives programme was expanded to really address the needs of smallholders and cooperatives, it was able to produce information in that department that was gender sensitive and had been gender disaggregated. However, departments were not being asked for that in the MTSF.

She said that the reason for pointing this out was that when looking at gender sensitive budgeting, planning was vital to make gender visible. The identification of the indicators would enable the Department to see that specific programmes were having the desired effect on women. This was where the creation of relevant indicators became relevant. There was currently still a misalignment between the strategic planning and the budgeting cycles. There was hope that, as the Department improved, it could deal with strategy, and then the annual performance plan and then the budgeting process. It was difficult to track the allocation of gender sensitive money and the impact of that spending, without indicators that enabled the setting of deliberate and conscious goals. Too often, it was assumed that women would benefit from programmes, whereas the reality was that sometimes they did and sometimes they did not. If this was made visible it would be easier to achieve. This was an important tool for accounting officers of department, to measure their success ,and was an important part of the executive authority’s ability to determine whether programmes were having the desired impact. Equally, it was an important tool for Parliament.

The Department was still working on gender responsive budgeting, and it would be put to Parliament soon. Ms Schreiner wanted to reflect briefly on South Africa’s track record on gender responsive budgeting since 1995, because this was a very important lesson. It started as an initiative by women parliamentarians, supported by NGOs. It was a programme driven by MPs who were gender activists and who wanted to ensure that the constitutional principles were instilled in a way that actually worked. However, MPs and processes changed, and there was then an initiative to embed such budgeting in the Ministry of Finance and National Treasury, at that stage led by the then-Deputy Minister of Finance, who was one of the MPs who had been instrumental in the initial women’s budget initiative in Parliament.

During the period 1998 to 2000, gender issues were raised in the budget speech and budget review, and there was strong engagement on gender responsive budgeting. After that, there was a lull period, which resulted in the (then-named) Department of Women, Children and People with Disabilities, followed by the current Department of Women, picking this up. SADC had a gender responsive budgeting framework and it would be interesting to see how those two came together. The information embedded in the SADC document gave the sense that there was incredible unevenness in the region . Some countries were moving ahead successfully, others were only successful in certain parts of the budget. There was a process that South Africa would be able to learn from, but at the same time the regional monitoring should take South Africa forward. In the SADC gender responsive budgeting framework, the key element highlighted was that this could not be looked at as the responsibility of the Ministry of Women or a Ministry of Gender or the Ministry of Finance – but instead proper financing was needed throughout, which required Treasury to embed gender responsive budgeting in their processes, and to make visible, in the budget circulars, the requirement of reprioritising money for gender impact, and to ensure that questions were interrogated.

She also noted that the Department of Performance Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME) was responsible for  planning, and that gender impact and indicators should be visible throughout the MTSF, strategic plans and Annual Performance Plans. It was always a challenge in a budget to be able to say that money was actually being spent on service delivery programmes that were having an impact,and this would be true of gender programmes also. The Ministry of Women in the Presidency had the responsibility to ensure that there was gender mainstreaming across the whole of government, particularly in terms of socio-economic empowerment. Department of Public Service and Administration had the responsibility to ensure that the organisation of the state, particularly the National School of Government, became an important vehicle to ensure that there was capacity to do gender responsive or gender sensitive planning, and gender responsive budgeting and financial reporting.

Without the involvement of all ministers, however, there would not be sufficient impact to ensure a good content, in every major government strategy, of the impact for women and girl children. Girls today would be the women of the future, and unless that was borne in mind, the generational sustainability of the programmes would be lost. The key elements to be ensured in the frameworks included a planning dimension, a budgeting dimension, the responsibilities for gender mainstreaming being placed firmly with accounting officers, and gender mainstreaming to become an integral part of interrogation of all strategic plans and budget. This was the particular niche where engagement with Parliament could be used as a tool to help the Department to progressively move forward. This was quite complex and some areas were easier to advance on gender indicators than others. It was more complicated when indicators were required to track the categories of women. This would be an incremental process. However, South Africa’s experience was such that all role players were able to co-own the desired impact, which was that constitutional provisions of equality must become a reality. The NDP and MTSF would be used incrementally to get to that point. To avoid the up and down process, there was a need to ensure that gender sensitive planning and gender responsive budgeting was firmly embedded in the policies and documents related to planning and budgeting.

The Chairperson requested that Ms Schreiner should elaborate on the 50/50 parity in budgets, in order to know how effective it would be in the lives of women.

The Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Tourism felt that there must be discussion around the boy as well as the girl child. Children at schools, as young as seven or eight years old, had been involved in sexual criminal activity. She was keen to see the Women's budget being brought back, and asked how effective it had been in the past. She wondered how best the departments were dealing with gender and budgets. There also needed to be discussion about the mechanisms that were in place before now, and how members of the community approaching the departments were treated on the basis of their gender.

Ms S Davids (ANC, Western Cape) was concerned with the implementation. There were policies and regulations but things were not happening on the ground. She agreed with issues raised about the private sector. Across different departments there was mixed experience on gender equality, because many higher positions, such as commissioners, or Directors General, were still held by males. So far, gender equality was present in line officials, but it had not reached the critical position. Children, both boys and girls, needed to be brought in to the programme from Grade R level, to educate them on equality for all.

Ms L Maseko (ANC) said she had recently attended an event involving Business Women of South Africa, where statistics of women in decision making positions were given, mainly for the private sector. That presentation acknowledged that the public sector was far ahead in female representation. Government was doing something right, but since its efforts were directed to achieving parity, the private sector also needed to be encouraged. The women’s budget was welcomed. It was the responsibility of every person, both men and women, in respective committee meetings, to ask questions to departments on what percentage of their budget was allocated to women and young people, and to people with disabilities. The figures should also be scrutinised, to ensure that women's jobs were not simply in catering and cleaning but real procurement. Members were supposed to be the eyes and ears of the public, and engage departments during their presentation of their budgets.

Ms M Frazer (ANC, KwaZulu-Natal) stated that while there was acknowledgement that a lot had been done in schools, she particularly wanted to focus on outcome 1- quality education. The government was addressing poverty, but her concern was for education for girls, which remained a real challenge.

Ms Schreiner responded that she could not agree more on the importance of looking at girls and boys in order to really sustain gender transformation. This needed to start at home, let alone at school. That aspect needed a national effort, in the home, he schools, in religious facilities and in sports facilities, in order to ensure that children were brought up to live and respect the human rights enshrined in the Bill of Rights. There were exciting initiatives in that regard, but that needed to be engendered.

Ms Schreiner wanted to clarify, in respect of the women's budget, that this did not mean setting aside budget for women, because that would result in too little money for women's issues, but rather having a specific budget for women, to deal with mainstreaming of gender. It had been very difficult to evaluate the impact of the work done in the past because there was not a formally approved framework. The Department was therefore now doing work on that framework, which covered the planning processes, the capacity building processes, the budget cycle and the monitoring and evaluation. If that framework was right, the Department could build the capacity to work on it and have trendable information to help it see the impact.

There were departments that had made significant progress and gone quite far in developing gender strategies for their core business. There was a distinction between gender strategies for core business, for their line function mandate, as opposed to gender strategies for equality within that department, both of which were very important. Gender equity had been spoken about as equality within departments rather than equality in delivery and impact on women in the community. There could be complete parity and a wonderful work environment within the department, but if the delivery was not reaching out to and impacting on women in the community, then the work in that department would count for nought.

Ms Schreiner agreed fully with the important point relating to the problem not being in the policies but in the practice. That was where monitoring and evaluation became critical, because if it was determined that for that specific policy there was a specific indicator, it would say that the relevant department was making a difference. It would then enable the Department of Women to analyse the outcomes and constantly improve their implementation strategies. The most important part of the administration was focusing on this monitoring element and implementation.

Ms Schreiner noted the points about the public sector versus private sector, and said that this was something that did fluctuate, but there was more work to be done to ensure that it was addressed systematically. In part, what had assisted the public sector was the process of setting incremental targets, and the private sector should also learn that lesson. In the public sector, Cabinet could set goals for everyone, and everyone was obliged to strive for those. There was not the same regulatory process in the private sector. However there were equality mechanisms in existing law and the effective implementation of these needed to be monitored, as well as checking whether the private sector was implementing those with passion or in a “tick the box” fashion. Hopefully, more debate about it would encourage the private sector to pick up the pace. The excuse in the private sector was that there were no women available, but the advancement in the public sector showed that there were indeed women to employ. At the same time, issues like financial inclusion of women must also be looked at. The Department of Small Business Development had adopted the slogan “Small business is big business”, and if people were empowered correctly, women’s capacity within the private sector would be built also.

The oversight by Parliament was a useful instrument to help the Department move forward. Procurement spend was an important element in terms of the categories of youth, peoples with disabilities, young women, women in other age groups, and women with disabilities. It must be ensured that gender responsive budgeting did not only look at procurement spend, despite this being an important element in the government’s injection into the economy and localisation of women businesses, but it should also look at budgeting being allocated to services that directly impacted women.

She noted that the Department fully agreed that the provision of sanitary towels for girls in education was critical, and the Department was n the process of figuring out the mechanics of how this would be done. The Department would engage other departments, like those of Social Development and Basic Education. There was a need to ensure that it was done in a sustainable way and that the initiative reached girls in rural areas and those schools in areas of prevalent poverty.

The Chairperson translated questions asked in isi-Zulu. The first had asked what was being done to address violence against women, the second asked what was being done around gender mutilation, the third related to how widows were being taken care of, and the fourth addressed promotion of projects that women were doing, such as beading and crafts.

A Member asked if women from other countries, who were present in growing numbers in South Africa, were being

An honourable member stated that the number of women from other countries was growing, so she wanted to know if they were invited to share their experiences or if there was a different platform for them. In the document about the NDP, it stated that the challenges of the NDP could only be addressed through regional cooperation. She wanted to know whether there were challenges that South African women were facing that could be addressed through regional means. Lastly, to the Minister of Women, she wanted to say that there was a clear mandate, and her constituency expected a clear report on what had been achieved so far.

Ms T Baker (DA) asked about teenage pregnancy, and specifically whether there were reliable statistics on termination of pregnancy, and how prevalent it was in girl children, what impact it was having on them and what counselling they may be getting. She also wanted to know if there were family processes, not only for the girls, but for the boys as well.

A member of the public wanted to know why older women were regarded as less employable as they got older? She understood that young persons should be top of the agenda, but she believed that older women still could be used somewhere, even if it was in mentoring. She was the chairperson of a home for older women, and most of the women wanted to be engaged in making a bit of money and help the community yet there did not seem to be opportunity for them to do so.

Ms P Makeleni (ANC, Western Cape) stated that the Chairperson of the Multiparty Caucus had spoken about 60% representation of women, and she wanted to know how that would be reflected in the legislatures, so that their local women could be acknowledged. She also asked Ms Schreiner, who had spoken a lot about gender budgeting, more about monitoring and evaluation of the quality of service by the departments, including oversight, and how departments would be held accountable. Accountability would assist in clarifying the work done in the departments. Emphasis was placed on the girl child, and this spoke to the history of South African, where the woman retained the status of a minor and how there was a need now to seek to redress the imbalances of the past. Both girl and boy child needed to be brought up to understand that they were equal, despite varying circumstances. Further, when the budgeting was done, statistics of South Africa needed to be understood. There were more women than men in the country and equality may not address the issue that women were still not mainstreamed.

Ms G Oliphant (ANC, Northern Cape) wanted to follow up on the issue of widows as this was not looked at in the broader picture. Northern Cape was vast and rural. In the majority of cases, women did not work but men did. When the man died, the estate could take two to three years to be finalised, and she wanted something to be done to look after the situation of the woman during that time – she would ideally like the Department of Justice to do something to ensure that children did not suffer. A woman might not qualify for social assistance, because there was money in the bank, which she could not access. She urged that National Treasury needed to be upfront with budgeting for gender. The National Treasury needed to give the information straight to the people. She felt that when money was put through departments only a small portion was actually made available for women. She questioned how much budget would be allocated per woman, so that when percentages were quoted it was known how many millions of rands would be allocated to women.

Ms D Robinson (DA, Shadow Minister for Women) reiterated concerns about the status of widows saying there were many cases where widows were left destitute. Women suffered by not receiving maintenance payments from the fathers of their children. There needed to be a campaign to educate all people of the value of having an ante-nuptial contract when getting married. Most people seemed to think that it was only possible to get married in community of property, so all the money was divided, but all the debts were equally divided too.

A Member acknowledged what Ms Schreiner had said about requiring data to be able to achieve the engendering goals of the NDP. Another issue, besides the data, was the need to look at the terms focusing on radical transformation, and whether that would be seen within the process of engendering the NDP. She noted that one of the priorities of government was culture and land reform, where the majority of women were supposed to benefit, but the question was whether the budget was following that priority. Resources must go to priorities and engendering the NDP, as required by government. Agriculture was currently 1% of the total budget. She too referred to comments about the girl child and said that in Africa the majority of the people were youth, so the programmes should focus on young women and come up with methods that would ensure the realisation of those programmes. Members of Parliament should ask how to mobilise themselves as women parliamentarians, not as members of political parties, to make Ms Schreiner's job easier and ensure the proper gender mainstreaming in the NDP. Parliamentarians often forgot that women's oppression cut across all women, irrespective of their political affiliation or race, and she urged that every women must stand as a women of Parliament to ask how to ensure that the priorities of government could be realised.

Address by Ms P Bhengu: Parliamentary Tools for Ensuring Gender Mainstreaming- Launch of the Manual for Mainstreaming (Women, Children and Persons with Disabilities)

Ms P Bhengu (ANC), Chief Whip, Committee on Women in Presidency said that women, children and persons with disabilities constituted a significant proportion of the population in South Africa. According to Statistics South Africa, 51% of the population living in South Africa was made up of women, 39% were children or persons under the age of 18, while persons with disabilities made up 7.5% of the population. With such a sizeable constituency it was imperative that the laws being developed and implemented, as well as programmes and services rendered, had to give effect to the rights of women, children and persons with disabilities. Since the advent of democracy, laws and programmes had been developed and implemented to give effect to the Constitution, and in so doing, to the rights of women, children and persons with disabilities. However, despite these significant strides, women, children and persons with disabilities continued to face discrimination in various aspects of their lives. The presentations today brought to the fore many of these discriminations. A key instrument underpinning these discussions was the NDP, and there had been focus on   how to give effect to it from a gender perspective as well as to ensure financing for gender equality.

Members from all ten legislatures had a crucial role to play in this regard. The launch of this Manual for Members of Parliament, regarding women, children and persons with disabilities, came at an opportune time. The mainstreaming manual was developed to assist all the Members in the national assembly, NCOP and provincial legislatures to undertake their roles and duties by fulfilling, promoting and protecting the rights of women, children and persons with disabilities during the term of the Fifth Parliament.

The objectives of the manual were as follows:

  • To highlight the role of Members in promoting the rights of women, children and persons with disabilities.
  • To identify key legislation pertaining to women, children and persons with disabilities.
  • To identify key international binding instruments pertaining to women, children and persons with disabilities and Members' roles in overseeing the implementation of these.
  • To propose mechanisms for conducting effective oversight when taking into account issues pertaining to women, children and persons with disabilities.
  • To articulate the importance of enhancing the public participation of women, children and persons with disabilities in legislative processes.
  • To raise awareness on issues of co-operative governance as they pertained to women, children and persons with disabilities.
  • To raise awareness about the internal structures and issues within legislature as they pertained to women, children and persons with disabilities.

This compact manual provided Members with essential information that related to women, children and persons with disabilities and was intended to aid and support the work of members. This manual was divided into three units:

  • Unit 1: The legislative framework, which provided an overview of the constitutional imperatives, international instruments and key national policies.
  • Unit 2: The core functions of legislatures were outlined; namely legislation, oversight, public participation, international participation and co-operative governance.
  • Unit 3: The internal structures and policies in legislatures, with a focus on the role of the Multi-Party Women’s Caucus and certain key internal policies such as family policies, sexual harassment and reasonable accommodation.

The manual also set out the relevance of the gender perspective and child and disability rights perspective and why it should be considered in the core functions of legislature.

The core functions include the following:

  • The strengthening of oversight and accountability- Matters relating to women, children and disabilities were not the sole focus of committees focusing on social welfare issues such as health, education and social security, but fell beyond that scope, despite the duty bearer responsibility conferred on legislatures. It was very important that committees confer with each other, both within and between the various legislatures. Budgeting was another crucial aspect of oversight. Thus gender sensitive budgeting, and budgeting from a child rights and disabilities perspective could be applied to departments during monitoring of quarterly reports, budgetary review and recommendation reports, and others.
  • Enhancing public involvement- the representation of women, children and persons with disabilities had to be ensured at public participation platforms provided by legislatures, which the manual also focused on. Opportunities for meaningful participation must be provided for women, children and persons with disabilities to ensure they were not excluded from public participation platforms.
  • Deepening engagement in international forums was an important aspect in consideration of international and regional ratification, as well as the oversight of the state in terms of its reporting duties. Legislatures had a crucial oversight role in terms of assessing and overseeing the implementation of treaties and conventions. Parliament also looked at to what extent conventions had been given effect to, through monitoring and compliance within reporting obligations. Members also participated on various international forums where the rights of women, children and persons with disabilities were discussed.
  • Cooperative governance - the manual briefly examined the importance of facilitating cooperative governance between the three spheres of government and ensuring the rights of women, children and persons with disabilities were being promoted in the process.
  • Strengthening legislative capacity - in terms of legislation and responsibility, the manual highlighted the importance of taking into consideration the rights of women, children and persons with disabilities during creation or amendment of legislation, as well as monitoring the implementation thereof.

Ms Bhengu commended the Committee Section and Research Unit of Parliament for working together to create such an invaluable resource as this manual. It spoke to one of the key elements of Parliament: to create innovative, transformative, effective and efficient parliamentary services and administration that enabled MPs to fulfil their constitutional responsibilities. The vision of the Fifth Parliament was to be an activist and effective People’s Parliament that improved the quality of life of South Africans and ensured equality in society. This manual would aid Members in giving effect to such a vision. Members were encouraged to make use of it when carrying out their core functions by protecting, promoting and fulfilling right of women, children and persons with disabilities.

Ms Bhengu concluded by thanking the team of support staff from Parliament for producing this publication for all Members of Parliament; Kashifa Abrahams, Crystal Levendale, Tasneem Mathews, Jennifer Thorpe and Tumi Mogorosi, from the Committee Section and Research Unit. The copy editors were Carmine Rustin and Joy Watson from the Research Unit, the content editor was Kashifa Abrahams from the Committee Section, the design and layout was done by Angelo Lamour from the Multi Media unit.

The Chairperson responded to a question posed earlier regarding the 60%, which was a national percentage. Some provinces, but not all, had Multi Party Caucuses. It may have been an oversight because it was thought that there were Multi Party Caucuses in the province. Multi Party Caucuses released their reports on the status so that it could be captured. It was the duty of Members to find out what the status was in legislatures.

The Chairperson requested that Ms T Kulume (ANC) take over the chair at this point.

Professor M Jahed: Parliament and the Engendered Budget. Setting the Example

Professor M Jahed, Director, Parliamentary Budget Office, said that his presentation would focus on gender responsive budgeting, what it entailed. An international example of Australia would be presented. He would also look at strengths and weaknesses, the oversight role of Parliament and how to look at gender budgeting and responsiveness going forward. This was critical because a lot of the issues discussed earlier were around budgeting and maybe a different perspective was necessary.

Prof Jahed said that when looking at international literature and case studies, it was interesting to note that in most developing or developed economies, poverty and gender were loosely linked. Women were typically the poorest. When talking about inequality, it was no longer about white and black, but rather about men and women, and this was now referred to as income inequality. There was a growing gap of a major portion of the population, which were women. The first port of call that needed to be addressed for the future was in company policies. The overarching goal of poverty reduction meant considering gender and gender processes in a systematic way, which had not really been done until now.

Gender responsive budgeting meant that in planning, programming and budgeting processes, there had to be a focus on gender equality and efficiency. Both efficiency and equality were vital in these processes, specifically with a focus of ensuring that women’s rights were fulfilled. It also entailed identifying and reflecting on the needs and specifically the interventions to be made into gender gaps in society. The simple message here was that if this was not not done, women were kept out of employment and out of economic opportunities in the South African situation. When such a massive part of the population was kept outside economic opportunities, there would not be economic growth and employment creation. It was no longer a glib issue that women’s participation in the economy was hearsay. If women did not participate in the economy, South Africa’s economy would continue to sink. For too long, women had been standing outside of the economic system, saying that the economy was not growing and children were not being educated and government was blamed. However, women were also a part of the economy and therefore needed to make a contribution as a major part of society.

There were some examples from Australia on how the process panned out there, from that country's first attempt by women to analyse budgets from a gendered perspective. There was a budget statement by women which indicated where women’s issues within the budget processes were found, in both economic and social policies. This also looked at the impact of all ministries on budget revenues, not only on budget expenditure. Women were an important part of contributing towards taxation in the country. The revenue that states raised had a contribution from women, so it was important not only to focus on how much the state spent.

Australia also introduced an Office on the Status of Women, which looked at programmes that should be directed towards women. An important part of the office was that it looked at the impact of gender issues on society.

Most gender responsive budgeting across the world differed, hence there was not a one size fits all. The various approaches differ in terms of how they implemented gender responsive perspectives in the government budget and how they promoted gender equality and gender efficiency. In addition to Australia, the UK had the Women’s Budget Group and Canada had the Canadian Women’s International League for peace and freedom. In South Africa, there was the Women’s Budget Initiative and there was an evolution into  gender responsive budgeting. It was important, in all of these, to note that there was publication of an annual gender budget statement. There could be many policies but if finances were not allocated they became merely another statement.

In Australia, the women’s budget statement became the centrepiece of gender responsive budgeting. There was a lot of progress, although it had been uneven, but over the past 30 years, some issues relating to women’s gaps were realised.

The Australian experience showed that a lot of the issues were driven by bureaucrats, but the problem was that when they left, the process left with them as well. There was also no political engagement. Politicians should not leave these initiatives purely to the bureaucrats to run; for politicians also needed to raise awareness in the process. The weaknesses were that when everything was left to bureaucrats, there was ineffective analysis, and this impacted the mainstream budgets and expenditure. Without guidelines nothing happened. Policies and perspectives could not be viewed in isolation and there was a need to look at the macro-economic situation as well. The NDP was critical in this regard, as it provided the programmes for guidance.

Everyone needed to become involved in the country’s debt situation and what was happening with the monetary situation, what was happening to the rand and how this was all impacting on gender and gender responsive budgeting. He repeated that there was limited focus on revenue, but women played a major role in the revenue, because they paid into the coffers of government, so women had leverage. According to the latest statistics, there were more women than men in South Africa, so the question was whether women paid more taxes and therefore should have more say than men. These issues must be thought about.

There needed to be quantifiable indicators and targets. In South Africa, the way the budget was formulated and presented was not always understood. It was written in difficult language. It said nothing about who the beneficiaries and targets were. These were issues that needed to be engaged with, so that everyone could play a role in accountability and oversight. All the women were regarded as activists, but it was not clear whether that was because women were active in society or in the economy, so women needed to define themselves better.

In the UK, the Women’ Budget Group was a think tank, comprised of gender advocates and civil society, who became crucial in the development processes of budgets. They did not only look at expenditure but also revenue and how they could play a part in it. They looked at changes in taxes and how they were impacted. They made specific impacts in social security. In South Africa, 20 million of the population were on social security, and women played a critical part in that. It was said that women, when receiving child grants, actually started small businesses to support their families. How women impacted the processes was phenomenal.

In Canada, the relevant body was an NGO. Women were quite strong and looked at how to take money away from other expenditure and put it into social security. It was not only lip service about how to amend the budget but actual participation and contribution of women. In South Africa, women in Parliament, along with NGOs, had launched the South African Women’s Budget Initiative (SAWBI) in 1996. It was important at that stage and it was successful, NGOs, parliament, government and international agencies were involved.  SAWBI provided a role model, not only for South Africa but for the international environment, including Australia and the UK. Women in South Africa still had credibility.

SAWBI was initially a research group focused on budgets, both national and provincial. There was a lot of research from civil society, but all of this now seemed to be dwindling. This opportunity should be used to rekindle some of initiatives. SAWBI did have initial expenditure analysis on the impact of gender for the last five years which was a great input and helped with policy proposals. On the revenue side, there was also research into direct and indirect taxation, and the role of gender in this regard.

The strengths of South Africa;s experience was that it included women and had support from all of civil society. There was the development of the Ministry and accountability and oversight mechanisms. There were issues related to integration of urban and rural women, and the focus on local government matters. The area in which South Africa was lacking related to integrated fiscal policy issues. For example, the target for fiscal growth for the next five years was 10% but there were not targets for women in the macro-economic policy. A key line in the policy should be that 50% of the management were filled by women. When statements like this were made, there was more impact and women could not stay out of the process.

The weaknesses were that women were not playing a leading role and there had not been regular lobbying especially around fiscal and budgetary issues. The impact on budget had been minimised, South Africa actually had not spent on women. Budget reform and the new budget reforms had not been gender sensitive. There were no measurable targets. Very little effort had been put into research. These were activist issues, not hard core economic issues.

Parliament played a major oversight role in budgets, and this was the role of the legislature, which meant it monitored, measured and implemented going forward. Exercising the oversight role assisted in ensuring gender issues were taken into account. Besides the budget issues, which were important for equitable division of resources, it was also important to ensure efficiency. Equity and efficiency were two sides of the same coin.

Issues that needed to be raised and put on the agenda included the success in reducing inequality and poverty, which was critical for oversight of gender. In this regard, allocation of funds to ministries and departments would have to addressed gender inequalities. For too long, it was said that budgets were only the job of financial officers, but if there was no understanding at all levels, women would be side-lined. There needed to be insistence on transparency in how programmes and budgets were formulated and whether women were part of the budget processes. There needed to be participation of organisations, especially grass-roots organisations which were vital.

Women should be taken cognisance of in the medium term expenditure framework as that was a critical issue that had been raised. An area of focus would have to be how women exercised their roles through Parliament, civil society or NGOs. Attention also needed to be given to tax and revenue issues in order to improve understanding of revenue grants or child grants and why women should be receiving them, and why there were not specific women's social services.

It was important to utilise resources in Parliament, to focus on issues like developing economic policy, looking at issues around expenditure and gender sensitivity, gender and revenue projects, and budget instruments for pushing for economic and social rights.

Prof Jahed concluded that South Africa had one of the most progressive policies internationally. It was, however, uncertain whether South Africa had made substantial strides in improving women’s welfare and whether the programme was assisting. There were not sufficient oversight mechanisms to track progress for advancing gender equality at a macro level and in different sectors. There needed to be an institutionalised response to budgeting and the government needed to decide how to create groupings, followed by building of capacity. He reiterated that there was a difference between gender-responsive budgeting and gender mainstreaming. Gender mainstreaming was where everyone  took cognisance of gender being mentioned in policies, whereas gender responsive budgeting was something different. Gender mainstreaming had not worked as a term, because people assumed that just adding the words into policies was enough. Gender responsive budgeting referred to budget or expenditure arrangements being structured in a manner that ensured that women and men benefited equitably from financial resources. It referred to the allocation of resources that not only ensured that women and men benefited equally now, but also reduced patterns of women's inequality systematically.

Women, as such a major group of society, could not be excluded if it was hoped that the economy would grow, or if employment opportunities, and addressing poverty and inequality were to happen. Women needed to be considered both in terms of expenditure and revenue. Women could not be excluded from developing programmes and policies. 60% of the population were not yet fully a part of what was supposed to be achieved in the country.

Ms N Khoza (ANC, KwaZulu-Natal) understood that there were resolutions from previous roundtable discussions, and wanted to get those, to monitor how far South Africa had come in terms of implementation. She noted that at least 2% of employment in the workplace had to be of disabled persons, and Ms Khoza wanted to know what strategies were in place to ensure that happened, stressing that there needed to be clear policies and they needed to be radical. Even the advertisements should talk to it.

Ms Khawula asked a question in Zulu, but no interpreter was available.

A Member from Western Cape referred to the Manual on mainstreaming and the framework being launched with it. She wanted to know how legislatures were going to promote gender while they did not have a focus desk on women or children – this was only found in the Department of Social Development. She saw this as a challenge, because that focus group was not highlighted in the manner it deserved. She thought it was being clouded by the Department. She thought that budget was not sufficient, and said that without indicators, as Ms Schreiner had said, there would be a problem because there was not emphasis on the performance of gender budgeting. The issue of integrated fiscal policy was clearer, and there should be a way of developing that, or if there was a framework, inputting that integrated fiscal policy for gender issues.

Ms Schreiner wanted to pick up on the juxtaposition of gender mainstreaming and gender responsive budgeting. Gender responsive budgeting was one of the most important elements of gender mainstreaming. If gender mainstreaming was approached as a way of making sure that women were mentioned in a document, that was not a transformative process. Therefore, there was a need to ensure that gender responsive budgeting was supported, through a process of assessing the implications for men and women of every particular piece of legislation, policy or strategy and looking then at whether money was correctly allocated to it.

A useful element to raise here was the process of introducing socio-economic assessments into government, to enable government to make key policy programmes to ensure that gender mainstreaming really was happening. It should be understood that gender mainstreaming required a gender focal point in government, a socio-economic assessment programme in relation to gender and a gender responsive budget.

In order that funding should benefit everyone equally, targets were often needed. For example, if women from a village had no access to transport or had little to no child care, only very few would be able to take advantage of important social or vocational programmes. The point was that all aspects must be considered when budgeting?

Ms S Shope-Sithole (ANC) wanted to request the Parliamentary Budget Office to do research into tax paid by women in the public and private sectors in South Africa, and also to research economic inclusion of women in the private sector, because the public sector was doing well.

Ms Oliphant wanted to discuss lobola and what happened to a women when her husband died, particularly linked to issues around customary marriages.

It was noted that this issue would be raised on the following day.

Ms Bhengu said that MPs, in their committees and in all legislatures, had the responsibility to ensure the mainstreaming of the rights of women. They had to ensure oversight during public participation and in enhancing international participation and cooperative governance. This also was a reminder of the core functions of Parliament from the gender perspective.

Professor Jahed, in response to Ms Schreiner, did not think South Africa was yet able to use the socio-economic assessment test, and he referred to mainstreaming in institutions of government, like the Reserve Bank, for example. It was a pity that people were unaware of gender issues, but it was a crucial issue that needed to be addressed when dealing with gender responsive budgeting.

The Chairperson noted that on the following day, the way forward would be discussed. There was a lot of work that needed to be done and women needed to stay focused and assist one another. Women could not only be on the receiving end, but needed to be a part of the development of policies and legislation. These issues should not be dealt with in a wholly political manner, because there was a lot that needed to be achieved.

Ms Schreiner wanted to answer some unanswered questions. She said that one of the challenges was that if an issue related to women, her Department was expected to answer. Some questions would be referred to the relevant departments -  for example, the question regarding terminations of pregnancy lay within the purview of the Department of Health, which did have a good database. There were other issues that needed to be answered at municipal level, particularly around the issue of infrastructure calling for more business which impacted directly on women.

She noted that a question was raised around foreign nationals, and agreed that it was an important element to look at, because in one sense services of government were for persons in the country and there needed to be no discrimination in access, but it was also important for the Department to be able to ascertain whether there were a unique set of those challenges for those women. Regional cooperation was vital, and the Department, as part of its Women’s Month, had picked up on that in relation to its partnership with Lesotho and trans-border employment practices. It was unfortunate that Lesotho citizens came to South Africa and received the raw end of employment practices in South Africa. A partnership of a range of departments in South Africa and in Lesotho were looking at how to manage those processes, so that there were employment opportunities in the region, but also to ensure that women were not exploited.

South Africa was also in partnership with Zimbabwe, and there was a trade fair this weekend in Musina looking at trade patterns of women on either side of the border, including border challenges, and challenges of business women wanting to trade across the border. There were also issues relating to economic migration.

Older women and mentoring was an area that the Department had not begun to explore yet, but the Department was critically aware of employment opportunities for young women.

Ms Schreiner said that there was no point in tracking where money was going if simultaneously there was not an examination of the quality of services. Without data, there was not effective monitoring and evaluation, and importantly, data that would have an effect on service delivery was vital. Government was working on improving its monitoring and evaluation, but the most important point was engendering that evaluation.

The issue of widows would be important for Parliament to look at, to see whether their lived experience was because of gaps in law or because of gaps in the way in which law was implemented, or gaps in the women's own understanding and in their ability to maximise rights. All three elements needed to be looked at. Women needed to be trained in skills and in the law and their rights in order for them to realise them.

It was critical to pose the question of women in the nine-point plan of government, to prevent there being a black industrialist strategy. A critical point of the nine-point plan was deepening local industrialisation, and ensuring that there were South African industrialists to confirm that the industrialisation of South Africa was not being done from other countries. It would be tragic if, 20 years down the line, it was realised that women were marginalised from the processes of industrialisation. The implementation of the Agriculture Policy Action Plan had in part dealt with assisting smallholders and ensuring the beneficiaries of the Plan included as many women as men.

The Africa 2063 vision and agenda needed to be considered when discussing issues in the commissions on the following day. Cognisance must be taken of the African continent, and the partnerships South Africa could grow on the Continent in terms of gender responsive budgeting and monitoring and evaluation. It would also be important to enter into partnerships that could transform the experiences of women within the Continent. As much as they were diverse, their experiences were also very similar.

Ms Schreiner would appreciate the national government making her own job and that of her Department easier, and that would mean getting to a point in this country where everyone, in the private and public sectors and communities and organisations, were consistently engaging on what their particular contribution could be to move forward with gender mainstreaming. If that could be done in this way, there would be forward movement.

The Chairperson requested that another Departmental official should be present on the following day, for further questions to be directed to that person in the absence of Ms Schreiner, and hoped that questions on the resolutions of previous roundtables would not need to be raised again. If there were ongoing discussions those questions would not be asked. Domestic workers had to be called back to Lesotho every month, which made life difficult for them. Many things needed to be tackled together as women.

The meeting was adjourned. 


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