Matters arising Preparation for full Caucus meeting

Multi-Party Women’s Caucus

19 September 2019
Chairperson: Ms N Bilankulu (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Committee was briefed on matters arising from 4 September 2019. It was explained to Members that on 4 September, when the Steering Committee met, the Content Advisor, Researcher and support team were asked to draft a questionnaire for Caucus Members soliciting their views on various issues from the suggested focus areas of the Multi-Party Women’s Caucus. The team had decided that for now, they would not include a lot of questions in it so that Members would find it easy to complete. A questionnaire had been designed so that the Steering Committee Members as well as other Members could provide input so that the team could change and re-draft it where necessary.

Members went through the questionnaire question by question and asked questions along the way. The Committee questioned the time frames in Question 3.2 as they felt it was premature to request time frames for something that can be done over a period of five years or longer. They asked how many priority areas there will be when the Committee has not even discussed the focus areas yet; if the team might have other priorities that they wanted to propose; if the priorities were going to be focused on the MTEF principles, as outlined by the government; how was capacitation going to be dealt with and what focus areas the Multi-Party Caucus should focus on.

Members were keen to find out if the Committee’s own focus areas were there and if it was looking internally only or if Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) and International Protocols were also being considered. Members said it was important to get the broader membership of whatever platform or structure to buy-in into the Committee’s ideas and that the best way to get the buy-in was to get people to feel like they were part of the entire process that they bought into as that was when progress was observed. All Members called for unity in the focus on eradicating gender-based violence.

Members were happy with the questionnaire as they felt it served the purpose of getting views from the broader membership and it would be a good idea to roll it out in new Multi-Party Women Caucuses and municipalities just to get an idea of what women actually want and what they feel they need to be doing. Members asked why the Multi-Party Women’s Caucus was asking for the decriminalisation of sex work and not legislation of sex work and how the Steering Committee would determine which of the certain issues at play it will be adding. Member heard that it is not the choice of the Committee to decriminalise sex work or not but that the decision was taken at the Women’s Parliament. So issues that were being discussed by the Women’s Parliament will be translated into the programme within the Multi-Party Women’s Caucus and taken further and if they need to be implemented they will be.

Members had requested the Content Advisor to do a compilation of all the relevant Bills, so that they can be considered for implementation. Members felt that it was important for them to start giving solutions to the issues at hand, because they did not want a situation where there is a lot of talk but with no tangible solutions. Members all agreed that there was a consensus in terms of what the Committee was going to present in the Multi-Party Women’s Caucus meeting and that there was a uniform approach.

Meeting report

The Chairperson requested that before the opening remarks as per the agenda are made, a moment of silence be observed for Deputy Minister, Bavelile Hlongwa, who passed away over the weekend. After thanking everyone, she then confirmed that the quorum had been met and that the meeting would continue. The Chairperson welcomed all Members to the Steering Committee meeting, and she brought it to the attention of the Members that the meeting was taking place a day after having been addressed by the President. The President in his address was coming up with solutions on how to address gender-based violence (GBV) and Femicide. The hope was that the Steering Committee would implement all the provisions that have been put in place so that noticeable change could be seen in the country.

The Chairperson confirmed that it is true that the country is going through a difficult time, where plus minus 100 cases are reported every day. As the women of the country, she pointed out that there is a need for women to do something instead of talking and deliberating using big English – they have to act. In light of that she believed that issues relating to GBV were their baby and needed everyone to participate, black and white. It required of women to engage their male partners, because the biggest challenge currently was them. She said that with the few words she had spoken, the Honourable Members were welcome.

Referring to the agenda, the Chairperson said that the second item was the outcome of the 29th of December. She apologised for referring to the wrong agenda which was for the full caucus. In correction she said that the item on the agenda she was referring to is the matter arising from the 4th of September 2019 meeting, where it was discussed that a questionnaire would be developed. In the meeting it was decided that the Content Advisor, the Researcher and the support team must go back and develop that questionnaire. The Committee also wanted to get a report back of the ATC (Announcements, Tabling’s and Committee Reports) – by being provided with the names of those that have been ATC’d. The Committee needed to understand how they were going to operate and also its role.

The Chairperson said that the third item up for discussion was the preparation for the 10am full caucus meeting and the last item was the draft of the Third Committee Programme.

Briefing on the Matters arising from 4th September 2019

The Chairperson said that the Content Advisor would lead the discussion.

The Content Advisor thanked the Chairperson and greeted the Honourable Members. She then proceeded to explain that at the meeting on the 4th of September, when the Steering Committee met, they (the Content Advisor, the Researcher and the Support team) were asked to draft a questionnaire for Caucus Members soliciting their views on various issues from suggested focus areas of the Multi-Party Women’s Caucus. The team had come up with a draft which Members had in their document package. The team had decided that for now, they would not include a lot of questions in it so that Members would find it easy to complete.

She said that the teams request with the questionnaire was that the Steering Committee Members as well as Members provide input so that the team can change it and re-draft it where necessary. The completed questionnaire can be returned to the Committee Secretary. The team was requesting that Members be given two weeks to complete the questionnaire. The questions that were asked in the questionnaire related to the suggested focus areas of the system as suggested by the Steering Committee on the 25th of July, and confirmed on the 4th of September. The questions presented in the questionnaire were as follows:

Question 1: Do members agree on the suggested focus areas? Can the monthly caucus continue to lobby and advocate for GBV and Femicide? Members can indicate yes or no and can specify the ideas or comments in relation to that.

The Content Advisor said that that was what point 3.1 was about – all the focus areas. Point 3.2, the task team asked if members will request that priority areas should change annually taking into consideration the State of the Nation address. Members were asked to consider that the identified focus areas could change annually. She then apologised to the Members for referring to point 3.3 in her discussion.

Going back to the point 3.2 the Content Advisor asked: How many priority areas should the Multi-Party Women’s Caucus (MPWC) focus on? She said the team wanted to find out if Members felt that the seven suggested focus areas were too much or not. This was an opportunity for Members to identify if there should be additions to the focus areas or not, or less. Going back to point 3.3, she said that the team wanted to determine if Members felt that the suggested focus areas should change annually or for the Sixth Parliament, and if the focus should just be on the suggested focus areas.

Under point 3.4, the team was asking if there are other areas besides the suggested focus areas that Members felt that the MPWC (Multi-Party Women’s Caucus) can focus on. She said that if this was the case the team would be open to suggestions. Point 3.5 was about capacitation and support of Members. One of the suggested focus areas is Women in Politics. Under Women in Politics, it was an activity that was about supporting and capacitating the current members. The Content Advisor went on to explain that the aim of point 3.5 is to find out from Members which areas they would want to be capacitated in.

Referring to point 3.6, she said that it was an activity under Women in Politics – which involved lobbying for a gender sensitive Parliament. The team wanted to find out from Members which programme or activities would they advocate for that would ensure that Parliament is gender sensitive.

The last part of the questionnaire, the Content Advisor said was for comments and any other suggestions. She concluded by indicating that that was where the questionnaire ended.

Discussion

The Chairperson thanked the Contact Advisor, then asked if there were any Members who needed to understand the presented questionnaire or add anything to it.

A Member thanked the Content Advisor for presenting the questionnaire to the Committee and allowing room for additions to be made. She said moving forward it would be difficult to anticipate how many priority areas there will be when the Committee has not even discussed the focus areas yet. In relation to time frames under point 3.2, she felt that the question was premature and that the question under point 3.3 was also premature for requesting time frames for something that can be done over a period of five years or longer. This, she felt was because there is nothing at the moment to allow for that kind of information to be given.

Discussing point 3.4, the Member said that to talk and come to a conclusion about other areas, means that there can be more ideas that the Committee can look into. Looking at point 3.5 she felt that, if the team wants to ask a question about capacitation, when the Committee has not actually spoken about what focus they going to be heading with, will be difficult for the Committee to get back to them about what capacity is required till such time that they have something on the table.

The Member then commented about gender responsive planning saying that the Content Advisor must remember that it was required for gender issues to be addressed across the board and that each department’s programme must talk to gender related issues.

The Chairperson said the questionnaire was prepared for the guidance of the Caucus. The team had put the questionnaire together to guide the Committee, and that if there are any additions to be made it is the Committee as management, followed by the Caucus that will come up with what should be added. It will be the Committee that will come up with the time frames detailing what it would like to see happen within a certain period.

Ms R Semenya (ANC) started by saying that the Chairperson had covered most of what she was going to say,  but added that her understanding, based on what was discussed in the meeting of 4 September, was that the Committee needs to know what focus areas the Multi-Party Caucus should focus on.  Based on that she said it was important for the focus team to ask that same question to the membership of the Caucus. Besides those that the Steering Committee had suggested, she asked if the team might have other priorities that they wanted to propose.

Ms Semenya then asked the Chairperson if the priorities were going to be focused on the MTEF principles, as outlined by the government, because if they were she said that this could be an opportunity for the Multi-Party Women’s Caucus to step in and develop issues that need to be followed up on with regard to gender mainstreaming of budget areas. The question she then asked the Chairperson and the questionnaire task team was whether the Committee and the Multi-Party Women’s Caucus should look at all seven priorities or take two or three and make those become the programme.

Ms C Ndaba (ANC) thanked the Chairperson and went on to say that, even though she was not part of the previous meeting, she hopes her apology was forwarded. She welcomed the document and proposal from the researchers.

She said that a draft, referring to the questionnaire, had been presented and was awaiting input from Members. Her thought was that Members should be vocal about the focus areas they think should be included in the questionnaire, so that the task team that put together the presentation can note those suggestions. The failure of Members not presenting those suggestions meant that they cannot be included for discussion at the 10am meeting. She said that if the Committee Members spoke up, it would make it clear to the Multi-Party Women’s Caucus what the Steering Committee was proposing, because they will be looking like fools if it reflects that this was not their own initiative but rather a proposal from staff members.

Ms Ndaba said that it was unfortunate that she did not have the seven priorities that the President had pronounced during the State of the Nation Address and also that she did not have the NBT (National Benchmark Test) document. If she had the NBT document, she would have looked at what the NBT says and looked at the seven priorities, and then decided on which ones to take. She said it was unfortunate that she could not help in that regard.

She noted that if she had prepared enough, she would have been able to assist by providing input in the meeting. She thanked everyone including the Chairperson for the work they did when she was not there. Ms Ndaba said that she was thinking about what the President had said the day before in his speech and hoped that Tembakazi had listened to what the President had said, so that some of the things he mentioned could either be included in the questionnaire or as a focus area. She acknowledged that she may be wrong for referring the question back to Tembakazi but felt that she would be in a better position to assist.

Ms Semenya then requested that the Chairperson should clarify because the Steering Committee had put forward a proposal that the Multi-Party Women’s Caucus, as women of Parliament, cannot finalise the proposal themselves without getting the views and issues that needed to be dealt with. She said that the proposal that was currently on the table included things that were in the legacy report like the discrimination of sex workers. She said that the Steering Committee did not have a problem with taking those issues over and continue working with them but felt that it will be better to get the membership of caucus to input on the priorities of the caucus so that a strategic plan can be developed that represents everybody. The aim of the questionnaire is to get input from Members about of the priorities that the Steering Committee has come up with, whether or not they are right or subject to change.

The Chairperson noted Ms Ndaba, who apologised and said that it was not her intention to turn the discussion a dialogue. She understood that the proposals made were what the Steering Committee was going to present to the whole Multi-Party Women’s Caucus, but what she wanted to know was if the Committee’s own focus areas were there. Another question she asked was if the Steering Committee was looking internally only or if Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) and International Protocols were also being considered. She said that she was asking this question specifically because she was new to the Committee and needed to be orientated.

Ms N Sharif (DA) thanked the Chairperson for the opportunity and said that it was her first Committee meeting and that she hoped that her apologies were received for the meetings she had missed. She proceeded to say that she was hearing both sides of the argument that were being put forward, but that from her side she felt that the questionnaire was really good.  She said it was important to get the broader membership of whatever platform or structure to buy-in into the Committee’s ideas and that the best way to get the buy-in was to get people to feel like they were part of the entire process that they bought into. That is when progress is observed.

She said the inclusion of everyone, makes everyone work with pride and it avoids a situation where the work is seen as a task required to do because the Steering Committee said so. This can happen if there would be a situation where the Steering Committee tells the Multi-Party Women’s Caucus that they must focus on the five chosen focus areas without consulting. The potential danger of a situation like that, is that it can take away the unity of the Multi-Party Women’s Caucus. Ms Sharif said it is important to focus on unity because not a lot of people attend structures like the Multi-Party Women’s Caucus, which is a sad reality because the Multi-Party Women’s Caucus does a lot of important work.

Ms Sharif said that she thinks the questionnaire serves the purpose of getting views from the broader membership and it would be a good idea to roll it out in new Multi-Party Women Caucuses and municipalities just to get an idea of what women actually want and what they feel they need to be doing. She said the Multi-Party Women’s Caucus has influence internally and externally and that when they speak about internal influence it cannot only speak about capacitation, because women Parliamentarians go through a lot more than just being incapacitated or trained. She thought it would be best to have a broader reflection of what support parliamentarians need. To support this suggestion, she gave an example of new mothers, living in Arcacia Park, who could find themselves in a position of not having anywhere to leave their child. It is important to look into things like that.

Another possible scenario that could play out Ms Sharif said, could be that parliamentarian’s park down the road from Parliament, which raises the question of whether it is safe for them to walk there at nine ‘o clock in the evening. This required the Steering Committee to look deeper to see how as parliamentarians they would benefit from the Multi-Party Women’s Caucus.

In terms of the seven issues, she just wanted to find out where they came from, but she also noted that Ms Semenya had said they come from the Legacy Report. She said she wanted to understand why the Multi-Party Women’s Caucus was asking for the decriminalisation of sex work and not legislation of sex work and what the thinking behind this decision was. Ms Sharif said the priority areas were important because when the Steering Committee goes to a strategic plan, they have to decide what would best suit the Multi-Party Women’s Caucus.

Having said that she asked if issues would be looked at per quarter or if it would be certain issues and if it is only certain issues, how the Steering Committee would determine which of those certain issues it will be, adding that the problem at hand is more complex than certain issues. In closing she said that she likes the questionnaire and looks forward to filling it out and handing it back, thereafter she thanked the Chairperson.

A Committee Member said that she wants to echo the sentiments of another Member that spoke before her and said that in the last meeting, which she was part of, issues were provided that need to form part of the discussion going forward. She also said that the apology from Ms Ndaba needed to be accepted. The Steering Committee was given a few days to submit issues to the Multi-Party Women’s Caucus Secretary. The point that she wanted to raise was that she notices that there were questions on the questionnaire, but felt that the overall question should be what the role of the Multi-Party Women’s Caucus is and highlight what it is that the Multi-Party Women’s Caucus wants to achieve.

She said she thought that this will be a question asked by Members because of the number of issues that affect women in the very institution of Parliament, but she said she does support the questions because they are right. What the Steering Committee should be doing is checking if there are any further submissions, because other members were not part of the first meeting. This she said would help so that when the Multi-Party Women’s Caucus starts, the Steering Committee is able to say that they identified issues and invite the Multi-Party Women’s Caucus to come up with suggestions, so that when the programme of action is implemented it will be informed by the submissions of the Members.

The Member said that it was not about the Steering Committee, which is merely mandated to just give direction so that the ideas of women who are not part of the Steering Committee find expression. She said that the Steering Committee was in order and that the only thing to check is if there are any other submissions to give clarity to Members who are not clear on certain issues. And lastly that the Steering Committee must develop a strategy and approach for the meeting starting at 10am.

The Member asked if the Steering Committee was addressing issues affecting Members only and if so what about staff members who are in Parliament who are women

The Chairperson responded and said that the focus was not on the Members only, but that it should include every individual in African countries – women and children. She said it was normal to start in Parliament as parliamentarians but that the work must spread outward.

A Member said that she could not participate in the previous Steering Committee meeting because she had an oversight in Gauteng and requested that the Committee guide her. She said that when she looks at the priority and focus areas, she is reminded that when the Women’s Parliament sat, there were deliberations on many areas and issues that spoke to women, but that most of them were not captured in terms of the focus areas. There are many other factors she said that speak to many of the issues, like engaging the Department of Police to train police on how to deal with victims of Gender Based Violence and so forth. It was of concern to her that those details were not captured.

Another issue that was raised before in the previous Steering Committee, was the issue of Bills which the Member said emanated from the first Parliament but nothing was received. She explained to the Steering Committee that the previous Steering Committee had requested the Content Advisor to do a compilation of all the relevant Bills, so that they can be considered for implementation.

The Member that responded gave clarity that the focus areas emanated from meetings that the Steering Committee had had and said that details of those meetings were listed in the document, including outstanding details from the previous Committee and those added by the previous Steering Committee. She said that the Steering Committee decided that in order to produce a final document of priorities, it needs to get the membership to come in. The issue of Gender Based Violence (GBV) is addressed there in the document and that in dealing with GBV, it is important to look at what the issues are that need to be attended to.

Responding to the question about the decriminalisation of sex work, she said that it is not the choice of the Committee to decriminalise or not but that the decision was taken at the Women’s Parliament. So issues that are being discussed by the Women’s Parliament will be translated into the programme within the Multi-Party Women’s Caucus and taken further and if they need to be implemented they will be. It is not the choice of the Steering Committee to say that sex work should be decriminalised, it is the women who came to the Women’s Parliament and said that there should be a discussion and gave their reasons.

The Member pointed out that the issue was inherited from the fourth Parliament. She said that the issue needed to be resolved in the current term because it cannot continuously be referred to new Parliaments. She also addressed the issue raised by Ms Ndaba on the protocols highlighting that they are very important. The question then becomes does the Steering Committee take the priorities as they are, or isolate the issues that it wants to include in the programme. The answer she said will depend on the membership, but if the membership is not active, there is no caucus. In saying the gender machinery is weak, the Steering Committee must include itself, because it is also a link in the gender machinery.

She said if government, Parliament and the Gender Committee system is weak the entire gender machinery is weak. Addressing Tembakazi, the Member said that one of the issues that have been raised is the question about participation of women in general. Looking at statistics, poverty is increasing in the country, the inequality gap is widening and the task of the National Development Plan (NDP) is to create an inclusive economy and job creation and narrow the gap.

Based on this, she said that the input that is made by the multi-party should focus on fighting the mentioned triple challenges and in reference to the machinery, she said it must be revived to work. The Member made reference to organisations that previously were established in various fields like the South African Women in Mining Association (SAWIMA). She said that all those women’s organisations are supposed to be part of the machinery but the link is weakened. She then directed a question to the Members of Parliament asking how to revive that section of the machinery.

The Member said that for things to be easier, it would require that information be collected from those being serviced by Members of Parliament to translate those issues into their work environment. This was the idea behind asking Members to give their input on the programme so that it becomes inclusive. This she believed would lead to the revival of the women’s caucus and make everyone feel like a part of the caucus and remove politics in the women’s caucus.

The Chairperson asked Ms Sharif if she had a follow up question since her hand had been raised and she confirmed that she did. Before giving Ms Sharif the opportunity to speak, the Chairperson raised a point that, that it was important for Members to start giving solutions to the issues at hand, because she did not want a situation where there is a lot of talk but with no tangible solutions.

She said Members must be clear about whether there should be additions or subtractions made to the presented questionnaire. It was good to say that deliberations would take place at a later stage, but what was important in the present moment is that solutions had to be presented at the caucus meeting.

Ms Ndaba said that she was happy with the focus areas presented in the questionnaire, but raised a point that she did not see the ones on International protocols unless the Content Advisor was going to address it in her own way.

The Content Advisor then responded by asking Ms Ndaba about the protocols she wanted the document to deal with.

Ms Ndaba replied that she wanted to see something about South Africa’s participation. A fellow Member then interjected to say that International protocols, the NDP and Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), will cut across the work that Members of Parliament are doing, because all work that is done has an implication in terms of these obligations – regional, continental and international.

The Content Advisor then asked where in the document this was made reference to.

Ms Ndaba responded to say that it was in the introduction of the questionnaire.

The Content Advisor asked Ms Ndaba if her question was about attending international events.

Ms Ndaba responded to say that she was enquiring about participation overall.

Ms Joy Watson, Senior Researcher, Parliament, responded and said that in terms of participation, the Multi-Party Women’s Caucus specifically participated through the SADC and regional caucuses and that every year in February/March; it participated in the Commission of Women which takes place in New York. She added that as the Member had said they try to work protocols into everything that they do, with those two things specifically she said they try to look at it when they come back from New York and thereafter give a report and plan of action that picks up possible areas which are for the Caucus but also for Members to take into their committees.

Ms Watson said the Caucus was cognisant of the international protocols and the two that it participated in have been the ones it has zoned into in a very specific way.

The Content Advisor contributed by saying that the participation, especially in the United Nations (UN) and the European Union (EU), always comes from the office of the Speaker, and Members are invited. An invitation would be tendered to the Chairperson which will detail how many Members are needed and usually it is two and this invitation comes from the Ministry of Women. So participation of Members of the Multi-Party Women’s Caucus is per invitation.

Ms Ndaba said that one of the things that had been missed in the process is around Beijing. She went on to explain that when they went to Beijing, the women that went there went there as the entire machinery, but what she noticed is that when the women started engaging in other conferences, they started having parallel voices and pointed out that this was one of the reasons that the South African Gender Machinery had weakened. She said it is very important that the Steering Committee actually specifies what it would like to see happening in terms of the Multi-Party Women’s Caucus participation in all forums and that this must be included in the report.

She said that it cannot happen that feedback is given that a report has gone off to the UN, when Members of Parliament do not even know about it. That experience she felt was very wrong and that it was problematic that it is continuing in that same way. She suggested that if the Steering Committee wants to mobilise everybody, women need to participate in the writing of the report. Even if everything cannot be included in the report, it is important for the women to table the issues that need to be brought to the attention of the UN and participate in that tabling process. The participation builds the trust of the leadership and mobilising forces to work towards achieving a common goal. She said this is something that the Steering Committee would need to look at when addressing the issue of the UN.

Previously she said that the addressing of issues would start at a district level, where Mayors would have Parliament and the delegation from there would go to the Province and eventually that delegation would go to National Parliament. Now she said the process is inclusive and the resolutions that are taken represent everybody. She said that the women at the current moment are being weakened by Parliament because of the way it handles matters relating to the Women’s Parliament. The women have no information about the people that come to the Women’s Parliament in terms of who they are and who they represent. Ms Ndaba stressed that the way in which things are being done at the moment is very wrong. Her suggestion is that the process must start at the local level and that in the next Parliament the women would like to see confirmation that the participation has started at the local level, so that when it appears before the Women’s Parliament, they are not just consolidating information but that information translates into a plan of action. The Parliament must give feedback to the people and not withhold information, which leads to the receipt of complaints. She closed by saying that this would need to be a constant work in progress and thanked the Chairperson for the opportunity to speak.

The Chairperson thanked the Members and then confirmed that what Ms Ndaba was saying is that as the Multi-Party Women’s Caucus they are saying that nothing should take place about them without them.

Ms Sharif pointed out that in 2019 the issues have progressed and this raised the question of where does the LGBTIQA fit into the Multi-Party Women’s Caucus and also how to classify who is a women and who is not. She said that there needed to be more in depth engagement, which requires more time and more space to consolidate what the Multi-Party Women’s Caucus  thinks is important to it and also the Committee, so that these two bodies do not find themselves doing the same work.

The Chairperson asked that Members be aware of the time when speaking as there was only four minutes left before the caucus meeting. She wanted to address the issue about the Committee for Women, Youth and Person with disabilities in the sense that they form part of the Steering Committee. She said that if they were present, there was no way that the Steering Committee could bring in what was being done on their side. She said that if the Committee was present at the meeting they would need to assist the Steering Committee, by detailing what programs they have so that the Steering Committee can complement it. She pointed out that the Chairperson of that Committee would help and then gave Ms Maluleke a chance to engage.

Ms B Maluleke (ANC) said that she agreed with the Chairperson’s earlier suggestion that there was no need to focus on the details of the issues now, but rather to focus on what was in the document. The discussion was around the focus areas, and because of that she said that she thought an opportunity to add would present itself because she wanted to add onto what Ms Ndaba was saying about the international protocols. She noted that the details about the international protocols were captured to her satisfaction when it was explained by the task team.

Referring to the questions under point 3.3, Ms Maluleke said that this was where there would be specific areas of discussion in relation to the focus areas that have been detailed in the document. She gave an example that if the Steering Committee is talking about GBV, this point would be where they would detail exactly what it is that they want to see being carried out in relation to the focus area. She felt that the current meeting was a not space to go deep into the details of the focus areas highlighted in the questionnaire. What she wanted to know was whether the Steering Committee agreed with the identified focus areas and if those focus areas that they agree on will be presented to the full Multi-Party Women’s Caucus at the next meeting.

A Member agreed with the focus areas, but also that she specifically liked the inclusion of ‘other’ in the questionnaire because it would not stifle anybody. Under the term other, she said that even if the Steering Committee ends up with a range of considerations, it will be up to the Committee to sit and decide what under the ‘other’ term, is relevant to them. What she felt was important was that at the end of the day the Committee would have given the women’s caucus an opportunity to be involved in the process. It was for this reason that earlier, she had asked that the Committee not going into detail as yet because there could be a situation of considering a range of issues falling in the ‘other’ basket category and the capacity focus area which would make it impossible to extract what is important and what is not.

She said that the Committee needs to analyse what ever information they are provided with, then come back at a later stage with its finding which will refine the approach that the Committee wants to have moving forward. She emphasised that there was a lot of information that was shared in the meeting, and as Committee Members who also formed part of the Multi-Party Caucus it will make for a robust engagement. The examples of the issues that would fall in the ‘other’ basket which will be opened up for discussion at a later stage, are issues like SAWIMA that were mentioned earlier. When considering what is in the ‘other’ category, she said it is important for the Committee to tackle issues falling within in that will be possible for it to work on. She said the aim was not to duplicate each other’s work, but that as the Women’s Caucus it is their duty and job in Parliament to be vigilant about the issues of women. Gender oversight will be done under all the Committees and when it comes to gender budgeting and planning, it is the Women’s Caucus’s responsibility to question all the other committees and find out if they are doing it. If they are doing it, the Committees would need to say if the gender budgeting and planning has had an impact that leads to development of the status of women in the country.

The Member said it is important for the Steering Committee to understand their mandate and the mandate of the Members of the National Gender Machinery. There is no way there can be duplication because the Women’s Ministry is designated for gender mainstreaming across government. She emphasised that there needs to be the inclusion of civil society within the gender machinery and that it would be one area that would form part of the ‘other’ category mentioned earlier. From there the priorities will be developed which will lead the Committee to establish an approach in dealing with the category moving forward. She said that the Committee should not rush into the other three points mentioned, as they were going to come up for discussion after the Committee has prioritised. 

The Chairperson asked Ms Ndaba to say something so that the Steering Committee can wrap up the meeting.

Ms Ndaba voiced that there was a consensus in terms of what the Committee was going to present in the Multi-Party Women’s Caucus meeting and that she agrees with the speakers in terms of the approach.

The Chairperson said that she was observing that there were Members who were coming into the venue and therefore asked the Steering Committee if they should continue with the meeting or not. Members responded by saying that they requested a 5-minute comfort break. For the Members that were coming into the venue, the Chairperson explained that those Members sitting down were in the middle of having a Steering Committee meeting which had not yet ended.

 

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