Available here once published: Legacy Reports
The Committee was briefed on the Multi-Party Women’s Caucus (MPWC) Legacy Report. The Report detailed the objectives, achievements and challenges faced by the MPWC, as well as key areas in need of improvement. Many Members agreed that this Report could be a key document in the induction process for the MPWC of the Sixth Parliament. The Report was also to be circulated to provincial representatives to ensure gender equality initiatives overseen by the MPWC were recognised and implemented at provincial and municipal levels. Members asked about the actual implementation and impact of the MPWC work on localised provincial levels. The MPWC Legacy Report was adopted.
The result of the Summit was that various resolutions that would be taken up by the Office of the Presidency. MPWC Members were concerned that the Presidency has given no report on the status of these resolutions, some which had deadlines after the dissolution of the Fifth Parliament. It was therefore deemed essential to inform the MPWC of the Sixth Parliament of their responsibility to hold the Presidency accountable to the resolutions reached at the Summit. Members questioned the effectiveness of all the gender equality committees and various non-governmental structures in furthering women’s rights.
The Committee was briefed on the state of the National Gender Machinery (NGM) in South Africa and it was acknowledged that the NGM framework played a vital role in ensuring institutional change for gender equality in government and the country. It was agreed that the NGM framework was an important instrument for change but must be more strongly emphasised and adhered to. Members expressed concern about the NGM framework not being seen as a priority in party caucuses. Members were urged to advocate for gender equality not only in special interest caucuses such as the MPWC but in general committees as well. The MPWC also concluded that members of the Sixth Parliament should be introduced to the NGM via a summit or workshop format.
The Chairperson welcomed everyone to the last meeting of the Multi-Party Women’s Caucus (MPWC) of the Fifth Parliament. She urged Members to take stock of their term and carry over recommendations for the Sixth Parliament. Clear steps must be outlined for the next Parliament, and that is why the Committee will be reflecting on the MPWC Legacy report. The MPWC attended the National Gender Based Violence Summit at which declarations and resolutions were adopted. Unfortunately, not all Members were present, so this meeting will inform all the Members about these resolutions so they can report back to their constituencies. One of the initiatives is to strengthen the National Gender Machinery (NGM). The Chairperson reported that there will be a short explanatory session about what the NGM is and if it is still useful. Members were encouraged to offer their thoughts about the NGM.
Briefing on the MPWC Legacy Report
Ms Thembakazi Mpapela, Committee Content Advisor, reported on the activities undertaken by the MPWC during the Fifth Parliament. The purpose of this report is to inform the Sixth Parliament of the outstanding issues pertaining to gender equality within and outside Parliament.
Committee focus areas:
The focus of the MPWC was to lobby, influence and advocate for the equality of all women by addressing the barriers and stereotypes that hinder equitable treatment of women in all spheres of life in South Africa. The main areas of focus were:
- Lobbying for the removal of VAT on sanitary products and provision of these products for poor women;
- Lobbying for the decriminalisation of sex work;
- Advocate for a legislated increase of women in politics;
- Review and strengthen the NGM; and
- Strengthening relations with provinces, municipalities and relevant non-governmental organisations to cooperate in the move towards gender equality.
Key challenges emerging:
Ms Pampela identified three key challenges that affected the administration of the Committee. Firstly, women’s conferences were not planned and strategised sufficiently. Secondly, MPWC Member’s non-attendance at meetings made decision-making difficult for this Committee. Lastly, differing political ideologies interfered with the progress of the meeting’s vision.
Focus areas for MPWC of the 6th Parliament:
- Increasing the number of women in decision making positions in government;
- Continue lobbying for the decriminalisation of sex work;
- Lobby for re-introduction of gender responsive budgeting;
- Further projects to address the scourge of gender-based violence (GBV); and
- Encourage provincial legislatures and municipal councils to establish women’s caucuses.
Ms M Chueu (ANC) said that the issues brought to the attention of the Speaker, regarding women in Parliament had never been responded to. The Speaker must be reminded of these issues and the MPWC of the Sixth Parliament must follow up on this.
Ms M Semenya (ANC) responded to Honourable Chueue and suggested that they reach out to the Speaker about the issues raised by the MPWC before the Fifth Parliament dissolved. She said they had until the end of the month [February 2019] to follow up on the Speaker. She also said that the MPWC was launched as a commonwealth branch under the Chairperson’s leadership and that the MPWC should define the work of this branch of the commonwealth.
An ANC Member asked about the actual implementation and impact of the MPWC work on a localised provincial level. Is it visible and active in the local municipality as there are still districts that are run by about 80% men?
The Chairperson responded that in the Legacy Report it is indicated that municipalities were invited, and it is an issue the MPWC is engaged in, but thus far it has not been successful. The Chairperson suggested that the Legacy Report mention that emphasis should be placed on provincial and municipal implementation of the MPWC plans for gender equality.
Ms N Mafu (ANC) said that the discussion made today should be noted so that the MPWC of the Sixth Parliament can identify which aspects of the Committee needed to be improved.
Members moved for the adoption of the MPWC Legacy Report. The report was adopted unanimously.
National Gender Summit feedback
Ms Joy Watson, Senior Parliamentary Researcher, reported that the Presidential Summit on Gender-Based Violence and Femicide (henceforth ‘the Summit’) brought together 1200 delegates to discuss and strengthen the response to GBV in government and society at large.
Ms Watson reported that the Summit sought to reflect critically on the country’s existing interventions in GBV and develop new coordinated responses to the problem of GBV. These recommendations will then be handled by the Office of the President, ensuring that GBV is given attention at the highest level.
Summary of declaration adopted by Summit
Ms Watson says that it was agreed that an immediate interim structure must be set up with the eventual objective of establishing a national multi-stakeholder council. Secondly, there was consensus that at a national strategy plan on GBV must be developed within six months of the Summit. Adequate resourcing must be provided for the Thuthuzela Care Centre as well as sexual offences courts and shelters that provided assistance to victims of GBV. A targeted social behaviour change program to address patriarchal values and structural drivers of GBV must be developed and implemented. Current education policies regarding gender equality must be prioritised and strengthened.
Ms Semenya said that the 6th Parliament should focus on strengthening the National Gender machinery (NGM), as this is critical to the implementation of other resolutions and the general furthering of gender equality within government. She added that it would have been appreciated if a representative of the Presidency was here to report on the progress of the resolutions agreed upon at the Summit.
Ms Mafu also raised the point that a member of the Presidency is not here to give a progress reports regarding the points raised at the Summit. She drew attention to the issue of the interim structure proposed at the Summit, which after six months, must be formalised into a national council. The six months ends in May 2019 when the current Parliament will be dissolved. Therefore the Sixth Parliament must demand a progress report from the Presidency to explain how far they were with advancing the NGM.
Ms E Colman (ANC) questioned the effectiveness of all the gender equality committees and various non-governmental structures organised to further woman’s rights. She said that such new structures outside actual government institutions are not going to bring about change. Change must be implemented within the institutional framework. She said the Presidency must respond to GBV issues through institutional avenues. Money spent on committees should rather be spent on social programs or initiatives because the money spent on committees did not translate into effective change. Structures must be established in all spheres of government to ensure the progression of gender equality. Calling a Minister or Premier to account for initiatives to curb GBV is more effective than establishing ad hoc structures to deal with these issues.
A Member followed up on the Honourable Semenya’s point regarding the absence of women’s movements in South Africa. She asked whether MPWC has any relationships with progressive women’s movements in the country.
Another Committee Member seconded the proposal to make use of and develop women’s caucus structures at provincial level and added that GBV ‘hotspots’ in South Africa must be identified so that special relief efforts could be given to those areas. She further insisted that the Presidency should ‘programmatise’ the issues raised at the Summit and that the Presidency should also lead this initiative. The MPWC’s role must be to ensure the Presidency is held accountable on this issue.
An ANC member welcomed and accepted the Legacy Report and the recommendations raised in his meeting. She agreed with the majority of the MPWC that the Legacy Report and further recommendations should be shared with provincial representatives as well. The Legacy Report must also be taken to the Sixth Parliament so that the new MPWC can ensure that the commitments made by the Presidency at the Summit are honoured.
It was further suggested that the MPWC’s role is not to implement programmes but to oversee and monitor them. Therefore, the Committee must ensure they kept track of the resolutions raised at the Summit.
Ms Chueu added that this Committee can and should hold the Presidency and Department of Justice (DOJ) accountable before their term is completed. The Presidency must address the issues and plans discussed at the Summit as soon as possible.
The Chairperson added that even in the presence of Chapter Nine Institutions such as the Commission for Gender Equality (CGE) and presence of the Humans Right Commission, there has been an increase in cases of GBV and femicide. The Chairperson pondered whether there are structures in place that are neglected such as the Early Childhood Development (ECG) education initiative, which has to educate children about gender equality from a young age. The Chairperson also said that women in Parliament are frustrated by the lack of tangible progress in gender equality especially after hearing the testimonies of sufferers of GBV that eventually committed suicide.
The point was also raised that gender equality should be extended beyond the legislative sphere and be nurtured in homes. Ultimately violence in the home cannot be regulated easily by legislation and must rather be prevented and curbed at a grassroots level through education and a culture of gender equality.
Ms Semenya enquired if the Minister could brief the MPWC Steering Committee. A formal report from the Minister herself could clarify how the role of the MPWC fitted into the NGM framework.
The Chairperson said that the Minister was invited but had a prior engagement. The Chairperson hoped that a member from the Presidency would be here, but none were available to attend. The Parliamentary Senior Researcher, Ms Watson has attended all their meetings and will offer a report on the NGM in the Fifth Parliament in preparation for the Sixth Parliament.
National Gender Machinery report
Ms Watson reported that the National Gender Machinery (NGM) was envisaged as an institutional framework through which gender rights could be advocated. This framework was integrated into various governmental, parliamentary, independent and civil structures.
In September 2017, the MPWC decided to review the NGM to review the challenges it faced which impeded its effective functioning. Some of these challenges were:
- Many current NGM policies are outdated and not applicable to the current reality.
- There is a lack of resources to ensure continued funding for these mechanisms.
- There was not enough coordination between the various committees and structures involved in the NGM.
- Administration, funding and the scope of Gender Focal Points (GFPs) are unclear. GFPs are responsible for the implementation of the GMN policies on national and provincial levels.
Ms Mafu said that the report indicated how far matters had progressed since 1995. It should be acknowledged that that policy was not a static structure, it was dynamic, and so it needed to be reviewed consistently. She suggested that the report [on the NGM] should be communicated through a summit or workshop format to the Sixth Parliament, so it could be discussed thoroughly and new MPs could be able to monitor and implement the NGM effectively. Ms Mafu said that not all MPs are taking the NGM as seriously as they should.
Ms Semenya agreed with Honourable Mafu that the NGM must be reported on as a summit or workshop. Ms Semenya also said that the report does not mention the progress of the forum which is dealing with integration of the Chapter Nine institutions. What is the position of the MPWC on this issue? She registered her disagreement with incorporating the Gender Commission into other commissions if it was restructured because it remained an important aspect of the NGM. She urged that the position of the MPWC on this issue be highlighted in the Legacy Report.
Ms Chueu expressed concern that the NGM framework was not prioritised in party caucuses and that Ministers could “reverse the gates of the previous efforts done by other Members”. Also, she said it was frustrating when women’s issues were only addressed in women committees; Gender awareness in other committees are not functional. The Sixth Parliament must raise gender issues in various portfolio committees and challenge ministers who do not actively promote woman’s rights.
The Chairperson agreed and said that the reasons raised by Honourable Chueu above were what lead to the loss of ground made by the NGM. Councils must do a better job in raising gender awareness in general committees.
Many Members concurred that government departments do not follow what the gender policies demanded.
The Chairperson urged that all Members who will form part of the MPWC in the Sixth Parliament must take note of what is said today, so that the weaknesses can be identified and built upon.
It was suggested that the MPWC Legacy Report and the recommendations agreed upon today be a key proponent of the induction programme of the MPWC in the Sixth Parliament.
This proposition is seconded.
The Chairperson says that the MPWC Members were invited to attend the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women in New York. Unfortunately, this year there was no funding available to send delegates. She stressed that such trips are not limited to steering committee members, general committee members are also invited.
Ms Semenya added that the MPWC Steering Committee is not responsible for organising trips abroad. Other offices oversee such decisions.
It was clarified that all overseas Committee trips across all departments have been suspended as it was campaigning season for political parties.
The meeting was adjourned
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