Sanitary Pads Initiative & Gender-Based Violence Summit update

Multi-Party Women’s Caucus

04 September 2018
Chairperson: Ms R Morutoa (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Chairperson informed Members that the briefing of the current state of the National Gender Machinery Summit had been postponed due to the unavailability of Minister Bathabile Dlamini and the difficulties with getting hold of the people that were supposed to be working with her on this particular matter.

She also updated Members on the current progress of the Sanitary Pad Initiative, which was discussed during the Multiparty Women’s Caucus meeting on 30 August 2018.

Members suggested that the Committee should schedule another meeting with Minister Bathabile Dlamini about the National Gender Machinery matter as most Members expressed that it had collapsed and the Minister would be the one person who could revive it.

Members raised concerns on the issue of Gender-based violence in South African and suggested that the ‘based’ part of the word be removed as they felt like it was an incorrect term.

Members were also concerned about the number of representatives that would be allowed to attend the Summit. The Committee Secretary assured the Committee that he would follow up on that and update them once it has been confirmed.

Meeting report

The Chairperson apologised for not being present in the previous Multiparty Women’s Caucus which took place on 30 August 2018 as she was on sick leave in Johannesburg. There were six items on the agenda. However, she suggested that another be added as item number five, being Gender-based Violence Summit.

Briefing by Steering Committee of the Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians (CWP)

The Chairperson explained why the meeting on the current state of National Gender Machinery, item three on the agenda, was postponed due to the Minister’s unavailability to give a presentation/report on the item due to difficulties of getting hold of the people who were supposed to be working with her on this particular matter. She was therefore unable to report to Cabinet regarding progress, and is still struggling to complete the Gender Machinery Report. The Minister would not be able to give the Committee a synopsis of what was happening as she could give an incomplete report.

She expressed that it would be difficult to explain to the Women’s Caucus why the Minister could not present the report to the Caucus. Thus, she had asked the Committee Secretary to postpone the briefing on the National Gender Machinery (NGM) to the next meeting.

The Chairperson opened the floor for comments, questions and suggestions.

Ms N Khunou (ANC) welcomed the Chairperson back. She expressed concern about the cancellation of the item thus she managed to get someone to come in from National Treasury (NT) to brief the Women’s Caucus on the sanitary pads initiative which was an alternative item since they had to cancel the briefing on the NGM.

Ms Khunou informed Members that they had a briefing on the Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians (CWP) visit. The Caucus was briefed on the visit, specifically what was done and discussed what was expected from women in South Africa. Therefore, she argued that the Caucus meeting could not be cancelled as the Committee had planned to discuss CWP visit and the Sanitary Pads Initiative during that meeting. The Committee was pressured by other political parties to go through with the meeting as scheduled.

Ms G Tseke (ANC) apologised for her late arrival and expressed happiness for the Chairperson’s. She suggested that they should reschedule another meeting with Minister Bathabile Dlamini because the item (National Gender Machinery) that they want to discuss with her was important. The National Gender Machinery in South Africa had collapsed; Minister Bathabile Dlamini would be able to revive it. She also suggested that the Chairperson should initiate to meet with her (Minister) so that she could be updated on the functionality of the NGM. She confirmed that the Steering Committee had met with the Commission for Gender Equality (CGE) to raise concerns about the matter.

Regarding the meeting that took place the previous week, she thought it had been fruitful as they were informed on the zero-rating of sanitary pads. She also confirmed that the Committee was able to send a a statement through to the National Treasury’s office which Parliament may have received by now as she noticed that the statement was already running on the Parliament website.

Ms Tseke also confirmed that Ms Khunou and the Committee Secretary were able to send comments to NT, and were also asked to inform other provinces to make them aware that the closing date for comments on the Sanitary Pads Initiative was on Friday. She reiterated the importance of getting people to comment on the initiative.

She suggested that they prepare Women’s Organisations or Women’s Representatives that exist in order to make sure they can avail themselves to make input during the public hearings which will be conducted by the Portfolio Committee of Finance.

The Chairperson confirmed that they would pursue the item through the Minister, and also indicated that it is quite significant for her to give the report as many people as were interested in seeing the National Gender Machinery in action.

Sanitary Pads Initiative
Ms Khunou briefed the Members on item four.  The recommendations there suggested that the zero-rating of sanitary pads affects all of them as women knowing how expensive these products are. However, it was over emphasised that they should form cooperatives which would be women Cooperatives to be given the task to manufacture sanitary pads in South Africa. The Minister of Small Business Development had already informed them it is crucial that women form cooperatives and form part of that Machinery. Furthermore, concerns were raised about the unawareness that the Steering Committee was not responsible for deciding who attends Summit trips. The Caucus agreed to invite Ms M Boroto, House Chairperson, International Relations, to explain how the process works of who gets selected to go on the trips.

She confirmed that the report on the conference would be circulated but was uncertain as to how far circulation had gone. The main suggestion from the Caucus meeting was that they meet with other women from other provinces more often so that they can have their own mandate as South Africa for when they attend United Nations or CPA conferences.

Ms Tseke reminded the Committee that they had agreed to invite the task team led by the Women’s Ministry and Departments of Education and Social Development dealing with the Sanitary Dignity Policy Framework to brief them on the Framework, as it deals with the provision of the free sanitary pads for the poor and setting up norms and standards of the country.

Ms Khunou notified the Committee that Ms N Bhengu (ANC) asked the Caucus that she be given a chance to explain the issues of Cooperatives to the Members, specifically on how to make good Cooperatives. Ms Bhengu assured Members that she is prepared to workshop women on that topic of interest.

The Chairperson agreed with Ms Khunou on Ms Bhengu’s proposal. She stressed the importance of the report but suggested that they have something written down for their next meeting so that they can follow up on it.

Ms Tseke said attendance at the Women’s Caucus meeting was good, and stated that they as the Steering Committee represented the Chairperson very well. The Women’s Caucus was encouraged not to downplay their successes and achievements as women.

She also reminded Members that should they should rejoice at the fact that they were granted one day in a month for them to discuss women-related issues as the Multiparty Women’s Caucus.

The Chairperson stated women from oppositional parties were interested in being part of the Multiparty Women’s Caucus initiative, specifically the EFF. She stressed that it was always good to have the opinions of other parties.

Gender Based Violence Summit
The Chairperson referred to the letter that had been distributed to the Members about the GBV (Gender-Based Violence) Summit.

Ms P Chueu (ANC) asked why the Caucus was using the term ‘gender-based’ violence rather than gender violence.

The Chairperson said she missed members from the opposition who regularly made good input. It was good to get other ideas.

The Committee Secretary informed Members that they were in communication with the Ministry of Justice concerning the Gender-based Violence Summit about when it was supposed to take place. The Summit is convened by the President of the Republic and reference to it was made during the conference. The summit was postponed to a new date. The Caucus had to decide on who would be attending the event.

The Chairperson asked where this was taking place in Pretoria. She suggested that they may not have time to look into it as Parliamentarians as this could be an administrative matter. She preferred to hear from the Members on what they thought about this item (GBV Summit), and suggested that either the Content Advisor or Researcher be sent to look into the matter. She opened the floor for recommendations on that suggestion.

Ms Chueu suggested that they need a political team that channels the officials in what they can do. She agreed that a technical team should come from the Committee but stressed that they also need a political team that channels the ideas so that on arrival there, there would be no arguments on the issue.

She then asked why the word ‘based’ was used.  She argued that if the Caucus wanted to eradicate violence in the country, it could not refer to the violence as ‘gender-based’.

She reminded Members that that they came from a violent society as Apartheid was a very violent era against a number of racial (worse with women as vulnerable) groups. She stressed that violence was a cycle whilst arguing that capitalism and patriarchy were violent too. She suggested they remove the based part as she felt it was incorrect.

Ms Khunou agreed with Ms Chueu’s statement. She further suggested that someone from Content and someone from Research and maybe two MPs be part of the Summit. She argued that they could not keep on having conferences and not see any change in terms of how the South Africans are benefiting from these initiatives and conferences.

She also stressed that since they were result-oriented as the Fifth Parliament’s Women’s Caucus they needed to change some of the things that are starting to become a culture.

The Chairperson asked when the Summit will take place.

The Committee Secretary confirmed that the Summit would take place on 1 November 2018 but it had not been discussed when the Steering Committee that will be leading the Summit would meet.

The Chairperson asked how many representatives would be able to attend.

The Committee Secretary confirmed that it would be one representative, but that he would further check how many more could attend as well as check where the meetings will be taking place.

Ms P Bhengu-Kombe (ANC) referred to the letter and stated that it read that only one representative from the Multiparty Women’s Caucus would be able to attend. Therefore, she suggested that they send Joy Watson, the Committee Researcher.

Ms Tseke nominated Ms Chueu to be part of that Committee.

The Chairperson asked the Committee Secretary to find out if they could send two representatives. She mentioned that it was not compulsory for them to select people that would be able to speak about administration issues.

Briefing on the Eastern Cape Imbizo with Stakeholders
Regarding the briefing on the Eastern Cape Imbizo with Stakeholders, the Chairperson informed Members that they were told to no longer use the word ‘sex-worker(s)’. In response to the Board of South African Reform Commission report in Eastern Cape, East London, the Steering Committee had suggested that the Women’s Caucus should take this to the provinces. The Chairperson informed the Members that proposals had been made to the Chair of Chairs about any scheduled dates (for events) that may give the Committee problems. The Chairperson then requested that Members remain behind after the meeting to discuss that.

The meeting was adjourned.


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