Congress of Multi Party Women’s Caucuses in Dublin, 09 and 10 September 2018; Gender Responsive Budgeting; National Summit on GBV AND FEMICIDE invitation

Multi-Party Women’s Caucus

24 October 2018
Chairperson: Ms M Morutoa (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

Documents handed out: Presentation on International Congress of Parliamentary Women’s Caucuses Report: September 2018 Dublin [awaited]

The Committee was briefed on the key developments in Gender Responsive Planning and Budgeting (GRPB) thus far, and recommendations on how to progress, and received a report back from Members who had attended the recent International Congress of Parliamentary Women’s Caucuses held in Dublin.

A Senior Parliamentary Researcher told the Committee that since 2012 the Department of Women (DoW) had been mandated to develop a GRPB policy, but when National Treasury had presented to the women’s caucus in the past, it had argued that the GRPB policy could not be applied without a framework. Although this had been made a priority, both Parliament and Treasury had done little to enforce GRPB. The DoW had indicated the target of developing a GRPB framework had been achieved in its 2017/18 annual report, but a review had revealed that the DoW had begun working on the framework, but had not developed it.

Two Members briefly gave feedback on the International Congress of Parliamentary Women’s Caucus in Dublin. They said that women’s representation in parliaments had regressed internationally, but when South Africa was compared, it was one of the leading states in respect of women’s representation in Parliament. The regression was caused by a lack of proactivity among women, and to combat this, women had to take part in state affairs without fear. The women at the conference had agreed that by 2020 they would like to see multi-party women's caucuses in all the countries that were present. It was suggested that women MPs should utilise social media to push their agenda and build rapport with the women of the country, but that they should only express views that supported their parties’ manifesto in order to protect themselves from a possible backlash.

The Members agreed that the Gender Missionary structure needed reviewing and without this, the DoW could not monitor the GRPB. To resolve this situation, they proposed that the Committee on Women in the Presidency and the Multi-Party Women’s Caucus Steering Committee unite and invite the DoW to formally present the GRPB framework.

Meeting report

Gender Response Planning and Budgeting (GRPB)

Ms Joy Watson, Senior Parliamentary Researcher, highlighted the key developments over recent years with GRPB. In the 1990s, South Africa was a leader concerning the Women’s Budgeting Initiative: Improvement of Life and Status of Women. The model was leading internationally because it was a partnership between the monitoring committee on the Improvement of Life and Status of Women, Parliament, the executive government and civil society, which was unprecedented. The civil society organisations such as non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and academics did the research, while Parliament and the legislature provided access to information.

Ms Watson said that at the time of this partnership, a Treasury resolution was introduced. The resolution stipulated that all government departments had to cooperate with gender budgeting. She explained that when key stakeholders in the Women’s Budget Initiative left, the initiative had become stagnant. Since 2012, the Department of Women (DoW) had been mandated to develop a GRPB policy. When Treasury had presented to the Women’s Caucus in the past, it had argued that the GRPB work could not begin without an adequate policy. Every year since 2012, the Department of Women (DoW) had reflected in its Annual Performance Plan (APP) that it had an indicator for developing the GRPB framework, but every year in their Annual Report (AR) they had reflected they had not achieved the target regarding its development. The DoW had said they were unable to fulfil this function without an adequate policy.

The DoW had stated that the target of developing a GRPB framework had been reflected as being achieved in 2017/18, but on review of the AR, she had found that the DoW had begun working on the framework, but had not developed it.

The GRPB framework was yet to be developed and implemented, and the Treasury would not engage until this had been done. Both this year and last year, the Speaker of Parliament had commented on the budget, stating that the Parliamentary Committee must complement the framework by doing its own GRPB, and all chairpersons were asked to follow up, but this had not taken place.

Ms Watson said that although this had been made an initiative, Parliament and Treasury had done little to enforce GRPB. The Committee on Women in the Presidency, the Multi-Party Women’s Caucus Steering Committee and the Treasury, had repeatedly requested the DoW to present a GRPB framework.

She concluded that South Africa had been the model of best practice in the past, but in recent years little progress had been made by the DoW to fulfil its key function of developing a GRPB and holding other government departments accountable on GRPB.

Discussion

Ms G Tseke (ANC) confirmed that the Committee on Women in the Presidency had enquired and requested the GRPB framework from the DoW many times over the years. A draft framework had been handed in to the Committee, but was not formally presented. The draft document had been developed by external consultants and not the DoW itself, as well as the monitoring and evaluation (M&E) framework. She added that the M & E framework that was developed had been for the Department’s internal use only, and not for other government departments.

Ms Tseke said that there had been little progress by the DoW on GRPB and the initiative had become stagnant. She recommended that the Committee on Women in the Presidency and the Multi-Party Women’ Caucus Steering Committee unite and invite the DoW to present the GRPB framework. She believed the framework would not aid in taking the country forward on gender issues because the DoW consistently fails to address criticisms or implement recommendations.

Ms M Semenya (ANC) said that the Committee had been addressing the DoW’s lack of progress for years. She added that the gender missionary structure needed reviewing, and without this the DoW could not monitor the GRPB. She argued that the responsibility for GRPB could not be placed in a department made up of men, such as the Treasury. The DoW must take responsibility and act because only women could drive the initiative forward. She recommended that the Committee invite the DoW to present on their vision and challenges, and that it inform the Department that the structure must be reconstructed before developing a GRPB framework. The Committee and other women in Parliament had to be harsh if anything was to change.

The Chairperson enquired as to when the Committee was expecting the Minister.

Mr Bryan Mantyi, Caucus Secretary, said that the DoW was expected to present on the Gender Missionary and the GRPB on 8 November, but was yet to confirm. He added that in the previous term the Department had been expected but had cancelled the presentation.

Ms Tseke supported the previous suggestion and said that the invitation to present should come from both the Committee of Women in the Presidency and the Multi-Party Women’ Caucus Steering Committee.

The Chairperson suggested writing another letter of invitation to the DoW that outlined what the Department should present on. She said the DoW had been stagnant for too long, therefore the Committee had to be proactive. The Minister of the DoW was approachable. She suggested that a few of the Committee Members approach the Minister informally and inform her of the challenges they had encountered and what the Ccommittee required from the DoW. It was crucial for the Committee to be active and investigate the lack of progress to ensure it was addressed by the DoW, because the legacy report must reflect significant achievements.

Ms Semenya said that the Committee was coming to the end of its term and therefore it must be proactive and talk to the Minister. Members of the Multi-Party Caucus had promised it would deliver the gender missionary programme and therefore there was a responsibility to follow up. The DoW should present on the GRPB to the Committee and make its direction and vision clear.

Ms M Cheue (ANC) supported Ms Semenya, and said that the gender missionary should be reviewed and developed. In four years, little progress had been made by the DoW. She suggested that the Committee develop implementation tools.

Ms Semenya agreed with Ms Cheue, stating that the Committee agreed with the revamping of the gender missionary, and should continue discussing the matter at the next Multi-Party Womens Caucus.

The Chairperson said that the original gender missionary had been developed by the Presidency, and suggested that its reconstruction should be done by the DoW.

Congress of Multi Party Women’s Caucuses in Dublin: Report back

Ms Semenya briefly gave feedback on the international congress of multi party women’s caucuses in Dublin, which she had attended with Ms C Majeke (UDM) in September.

Ms Semenya commented on some logistical concerns, stating that the plane tickets had been booked for 7 September, as the conference was starting on 10 September, and there was a welcome dinner on the 9th. However, the ticket bookings had been changed to the 8th, and after a very long and unnecessary route they had arrived in Dublin on the 9th. This had been inconvenient as they did not have time to rest before the dinner and the conference the next day, taking into consideration that their hotel bookings had not been confirmed and as a consequence they had had nowhere to place their luggage and prepare for the welcome dinner.

Ms Cheue said that these issues were common when women officials travelled, and they needed to be addressed in the caucus. She added that the issue lay with the travel agency the government uses.

Ms Semenya said that the welcome from the chairperson of the Multi-Party Caucus in Dublin had been hospitable. Africa was well represented at the conference.

She said that women’s representation in parliaments had regressed internationally, and when South Africa was compared, it was one of the leading states in respect of women’s representation in Parliament. She added that regression was caused by a lack of proactivity among women, and to combat this women had to take part in state affairs without fear.

She echoed the Dublin conference suggestion that all governments must have a women’s caucus. The structure required women to work together, whether in government or in opposition. All countries should have a women's caucus in parliament, and conferences like the Dublin conference should be held regularly. She congratulated the women officials in Dublin for planning a conference on such a large scale.

Ms Majeke said significant points were discussed during the conference. The women attending had agreed that by 2020 they would like to see multi-party women's caucuses in all the countries that were present. She endorsed Ms Semenya’s comment that South Africa was one of the leading states for women’s involvement.

The women at the conference had shared their experiences of gender-based violence (GBV), and it had been useful and powerful. A discussion on GRPB had been held, and there was a consensus that GRPB was ignored in the majority of parliaments. Ms Majeke stressed the importance of women’s cooperation in the journey to gender equality.

She concluded by suggesting that women MPs utilise social media to push their agenda and build rapport with the women of the country. She warned that the women should only express views that supported their party manifesto in order to protect themselves from a potential backlash.

Ms Chueu quoted a professor, stating she advised that for progress to take place women had to change their mind sets and not act like men by confronting negative stereotypes, and by not performing toxic masculine traits to advance. Women in leadership positions were better positioned to confront procedures, stereotypes, negative cultures and assumptions that undermined women.

She said that women in leadership rarely empowered other women. Gender equality did not mean women and men all doing the exact same activities, but people utilising their strengths and interests without a sexist lens. When women were performing traditionally male work, like lifting equipment on farms, procedures must be put in place ensuring to ensure they can perform the task effectively. She said some women drivers were expected to drive to depots at 3 am alone, despite it being unsafe for women. This was a counter productive and destructive way of viewing the call for gender equality.

GBV was highly prevalent and physical differences were a reality, therefore ignoring that and asking women to do or be in unsafe places in the name of gender equality was violent, and did not further the cause but rather deepened its challenges. Asking women to perform tasks in exactly the same way men performed them, in spite of the realities and structures that do not allow them to be effective, was a “vulgar” interpretation of women’s empowerment.

Ms Cheue concluded by arguing that women were not to blame for the lack of progress, because women were the victims. The capitalist system had failed and oppressed both men and women. Before the country deconstructed partriachy, it must deconstruct capitalism because patriarchy was merely a pillar of capitalism. The move towards gender equality concerned structures and not people, and structures like imperialism were the causes of a lack of progress, not women. The proponents of gender equality were fighting within and utilising a system that was built to oppress them, so it had to be dismantled.

The Chairperson said that the meeting was too short to fully discuss all of the issues that had been raised. She suggested that the Committee plan discussion points for the next meeting, and that it bring up the idea of international-wide multi-party women's caucuses in parliament.

Ms Semenya added that the trip to Dublin was very informative and they were honoured by being taken to a museum commemorating Nelson Mandela.

The Chairperson directed the secretary to send the Dublin conference report to the Speaker, noting that it was necessary to highlight the importance of multi-party caucuses.

Mr Mantyi informed the committee that the President had committed to the GBV summit on 1 and 2 November in Johannesburg, and asked the Committee mMembers to confirm their attendance.

The meeting was adjourned.

 

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