The Multi-Party Women’s Caucus (MPWC) received a briefing from the Content Adviser on the proposals by its Members on its focus areas for the Sixth Parliament. The MPWC agreed on four focus areas:
• Women and Security
• Women in Politics
• Women in Health and Education
• Women in the Economy.
The Chairperson said Gender Based Violence (GBV) is serious threat to women. As women of South Africa they need to join hands and agree on an approach to say enough is enough. It cannot be only women that ensure that they deal with the GBV scourge, they also need to include their male partners and real men and real fathers. By real men and real fathers she means men who have a conscience, who still treat them with respect and dignity as ladies or mothers. In dealing with GBV they also need to change their attitudes as women – the way they communicate with one another, and not look down at each other. They need to leave party politics aside. When they are in this Committee they must take into consideration that they are women regardless of the political party they come from.
She referred to Precious Ramabulana killed this week in Limpopo. It is sad that she was stabbed 52 times. This shows how seriously women should treat this GBV problem. She asked all present to observe a moment of silence to remember all victims that have been raped and killed; may their souls rest in peace.
The Chairperson said the Content Adviser had presented an overview of the work of the Fifth Parliament MPWC to the Committee previously. She will highlight the suggested focus areas for the MPWC programme for the Sixth Parliament.
Multi-Party Women’s Caucus focus areas in the Sixth Parliament
Ms Thembakazi Mpapela, Committee Content Adviser, said the Steering Committee of the Multi-Party Women’s Caucus (MPWC) has identified focus areas for adoption and implementation by the Sixth MPWC. In order to foster unity and inclusion, the Steering Committee afforded Members an opportunity to make proposals on the suggested focus areas.
Ms Mpapela said the Steering Committee had proposed these focus areas:
• Gender Based Violence and Femicide
• Strengthening of national gender machinery
• Gender responsive planning and budgeting
• Sanitary dignity
• Woman and health
• Women in politics
• Decriminalization of sex work
• Building relations with stakeholders.
The majority of Members' inputs are in support of these focus areas. Three inputs received are not in support of the decriminalization of sex work as a focus area for the MPWC. Two of those are of the view that it should not be a focus area, while one suggested that decriminalization of sex work should rather be referred to the Portfolio Committees on Police as well as Justice and Correctional Services for consideration.
Ms Mpapela noted that Members also made the following proposals for additional focus areas:
• Reducing the burden of reproductive work
• Environmental issues
• Social cohesion and nation building
• Economic empowerment of women
• Equal pay and recognition of unpaid care work
• Plight of domestic workers and farm workers
Ms Mpapela said that there is also a proposal to focus on three areas only: gender based violence and femicide, decriminalization of sex work and sanitary dignity. A number of inputs proposed that focus areas should be reviewed annually to ensure relevance and to track progress.
In conclusion Ms Mpapela said that ten submissions were received from MPWC Members.
The Chairperson said the proposed focus areas were from Members and now they have to agree on an approach.
A Member said that she had made a submission that the focus area on GBV include the link between pornography and GBV and about the regulation of pornography, which was not mentioned by the Content Adviser and it is not included in this overview.
The Chairperson said the Content Adviser has mentioned that she had received some inputs this morning and they will be attended to.
Ms B Maluleke (ANC) said she fully agrees with the Member about pornography and it can be added to GBV.
Ms N Sihlwayi (ANC) proposed that the Committee needs a workshop to unpack GBV. She said that the programming committee should provide this Committee with increased meeting time so it gets the power it deserves to deal with the issues that affect women.
Ms M Siwisa (EFF) said her submission on the monitoring of GBV cases is not included in the overview, which was submitted on time. They can come up with this beautiful programme of workshops, educating themselves about self-defence. However, one finds that a woman gets raped but then the case does not go forward because certain people do not do their job at police stations.
Ms N Abrahams (ANC) agreed with Ms Sihlwayi on the proposed workshop because women issues needed women to fight for them. It depended on Members to fight for their space. Secondly, the identified issues should be taken up with the relevant departments. They should not leave these issues to the Portfolio Committees because those committees are busy with other things. The Department of Justice should be their strategic partner and look at cases not just of GBV but also maintenance cases and the type of marriages women enter into especially rural women.
She suggested the focus areas can be summarised into four focus areas where women and security is one focus area. It will look at GBV and GBV cases as raised by Ms Siwisa and will include gender justice, decriminalization of sex work and so on. Another focus area will look at women and economy, and gender responsive planning and budgeting as well as women with disabilities. Women in politics will look at legislation and a gender sensitive Parliament. The fourth one will be women’s health and education, and will include sanitary dignity and so on. The issues can be packaged into four broad areas.
Ms R Semenya (ANC) agreed about clustering these issues because all of them are important.
Ms M Sukers (ACDP) said she was covered by most Members. However, she suggested that women, children and persons with disabilities should be emphasised in all these focus areas.
Ms N Sharif (DA) agreed about pornography and the link it has with GBV. It will be a good idea for the MPWC to explore that debate and come up with a clear position and have stakeholder engagement.
Ms Sharif noted that although the majority of Members agree with the decriminalization of sex work, there are those who do not agree with it. She proposed that it will be a good idea for MPWC to have a stakeholder engagement with sex workers and with NGOs that are for and most importantly those that are against so that the MPWC has a fair understanding of both sides of the argument and come up with a decision on this.
The Chairperson said Members agree on the focus areas. Ms Abrahams has proposed four focus areas under which they are going to put the activities they are talking about. It is up to the Committee to say if they agree with these four focus areas as its programme for the Sixth Parliament:
• Women and Security
• Women in Politics
• Women in Health and Education
• Women in the Economy
She asked if the Committee would adopt this programme that will guide them going forward as the MPWC.
The Committee adopted the programme.
The Chairperson said that if anyone feels something needs to be corrected or added, they should meet with the content adviser and correct what is already there and at the next meeting they will look at that correction or addition. She agreed about the necessity to hold the suggested workshop to clearly understand the issues. She thanked Members for their participation and adjourned the meeting.
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