The Department of Women, Youth and People with Disabilities briefed the Multiparty Women’s Caucus on the Framework for Gender Responsive Planning, Budgeting, Monitoring, Evaluating and Auditing.
Questions raised by Members were about the progress thus far on the Gender Responsive Framework into performance management systems; why South Africa had regressed in terms of gender responsive policy and budgeting; the latest statistics regarding the number of women with disability employed in spheres of government; does the Department have the resources to set up a hotline for women and children who are suffering past and current injustices; what the most important project is that the Minister and the Department would want to see Parliament supporting in the 2021 financial year; how the Department is making sure that little girls and people with disabilities are being sent critical information; what the Department is currently struggling and having issues with especially given now during the pandemic; could a programme be implemented where health volunteers can do testing in households to ensure women’s safety in their homes and also questions regarding budget cuts.
Both the Minister and Deputy Minister contributed to the discussion alongside the Director-General. The Minister said she is committed to implementing the women empowerment, gender equity and health bill and had submitted this to the head of the government business. This has, however, been delayed due to challenges of COVID-19.
Before the meeting started, the Chairperson welcomed all Members and apologised to the Multiparty Women’s Caucus and the Department for the inconvenience with regards to the time of the meeting as it was supposed to be earlier.
The sequence for the agenda was the Chairperson’s opening remarks and apologies, followed by the briefing by the Department with opening remarks from the Minister, a discussion, a summary and lastly the closing remarks by the Chairperson. Ms F Masiko (ANC) moved for the adoption of the agenda and Ms Z Nkomo (ANC) seconded.
The Chairperson stated that the confirmed cases of COVID-19 in South Africa is at 25 937 people while recoveries are at 13 451 and the death rate currently at 552 people. It confirms the difficult situation that the country is in, especially for women because their role and responsibility is to take care of their families. In general, women are experiencing gender-based violence and femicide on a daily basis and girls are raped and killed during the lockdown in South Africa. The strong women in the Multiparty Women’s Caucus need to take the necessary steps in order to eradicate the abnormalities it has been faced with. The briefing by the Department is of critical importance as it will assist members to fully understand the framework for Gender Responsive, Planning, Budgeting, Monitoring, Evaluation and Auditing (GRPBMEA), its implementation and also it will be a guide to oversight work. The briefing by the Department also plans to prepare the Members on what is expected of them while attending workshops and to know the progress made thus far by the Department and the challenges affecting the gender missionary structures with government. Lastly, she wants to remind the Members that as women, they should guard their mandate by making sure that they will always advocate and pursue the empowerment of women at all three spheres of government. As women, they are still facing the simple challenge of the multi-dimension that is poverty, inequality and unemployment, which all has a negative impact on women.
At this point the Chairperson was having connection problems. Dr C Pilane-Majake (ANC) suggested that Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane should carry on speaking while the Chairperson’s connection is getting fixed.
The Minister greets all Members of the Department. She stated that the Department is meeting in an environment that was unimaginable three months ago. South Africa and the rest of the world are dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic and the gendered impact of the virus for the global community. This puts emphasis on sexual reproduction rights, challenges, hunger, loss of jobs and gender-based violence. Unfortunately women and children find themselves in the worst conditions due to the lockdown which was enforced, therefore as the Department does work regarding the GRPBMEA framework, it has to think how different it would be if this framework was implemented globally. The challenges that it is faced with could have been avoided as the emergency plans would have been very clear and gender responsive indicators would protect women and children during this crisis. The government has implemented Poverty Relief Plans to assist the caregivers, with the majority being women, to ensure that women and children do not go hungry.
Food parcels were handed out, social grants were increased and caregivers grants were also implemented. These are commendable programmes and the government should be applauded for it and should also encourage the Minister of Social Development to carry on doing this. For the first time, the government has a Medium-Term Strategy Framework for 2024 that is gender responsive and has explicit gender priorities and indicators across all seven priority areas. This forms part of the performance agreement of Ministers, Deputy Ministers and Premiers as announced by the President on Women's Day 2019. However, the success of this depends on all portfolio and select committees of Parliament to ask questions of every department, state-owned entity and the private sector that will change the status quo. As a Department, this cannot be done alone. For the country to reach a 50/50 situation in 2020 and in order to reach the sustainable development goals of gender equality, there needs to be a critical group of champions to shake the foundation. Therefore the Multiparty Women’s Caucus must be the champion too.
There are nine years left to reach the target and if it continues at this pace, it will fail the majority of citizens of South Africa who are women in their diversity. It is of critical importance that all Members ensure that the planning and budgeting of Parliament is gender responsive, as charity begins at home. The Department has developed a GRPBMEA training manual for all managers with the national school of governance. The Department of Public Services and Administration also wants to include it as part of the compulsory training course for senior management. This is a basic course that can also be extended to the Members of Parliament. In partnership with UN Women, the Department is converting this module to an e-learning platform which will reach a critical number of women. The Members of Parliament can also use these platforms for continuous development. As a planning tool, the Department is starting with managers, but in future it wants this platform to be part of training to be given to all public servants. The Department has broadly consulted the GRPBMEA Framework and has been working with the key departments, including the National Treasury, to ensure its implementation. The Multiparty Women’s Caucus is making strides with the National Treasury as it wrote to all departments to demonstrate its locations for gender as part of their budget guidelines. This is a wakeup call to all those who still wanted to continue with ‘business as usual’. The Department will be analysing the report from the National Treasury to see which department prioritises women, youth and persons with disabilities in their plans and budget.
In the Minister’s budget speech last year, she stated that she is committed to implementing the women empowerment, gender equity and health bill and has submitted this to the head of the government business. However, due to challenges of COVID-19, the Department has been asked to reprioritise the number of bills that must be tabled in Parliament in 2020. With regards to the Gender Machinery, the Department has developed a National Gender Machinery Framework which will be submitted to the cabinet soon. There is a policy framework on women’s empowerment and gender equity and the absence of any other policy framework. However, presently every department and province is doing as they please without any regards to the framework, failing women in the process. She calls on the Members and the provinces to make an account on this so that it can come together and uproot the foundations of patriarchy.
The Minister stated that Ms WR Tshabalala, Director-General, Department of Women Youth and People with Disabilities (DWYPD), will be presenting the GRPBMEA Framework.
Ms Tshabalala greeted all Members of the Department and the Multiparty Women’s Caucus. She stated that this presentation is about the GRPBMEA Framework and why there is a need for it.
(See DWYPD document on GRPBMEA Framework)
Mandate of the Department
Its main focus is on women empowerment and gender equality but is also applicable to youth and persons with disabilities. The Department used to be known as the Department of Women before it merged with the Department of Youth and Persons with Disabilities.
The need for GRPBMEA Framework
- Political, economic and social exclusion
- The prevalence of patriarchal norms, means that women remain subordinate and under-represented in many spheres of social life, including those related to decision-making at a political and governance level
- The country’s legislative framework and justice system continues to disadvantage most women, particularly those from vulnerable sectors
- Women and girls continue to suffer from harmful practices and discrimination in relation to inheritance rights
- Weak institutionalization of gender mainstreaming across the state machinery
- South Africa has experienced regression in relation to gender mainstreaming
- Lack of explicit gender responsive indicators within National Development Planning and planning and monitoring
- Gender equality and women’s empowerment policies and systems are outdated, with a lack of implementation and monitoring of implementation
- There is a lack of coherent policies, programmes, systems and procedures to promote GRPBMEA in South Africa
- There is an under-resourcing of the National Gender Machinery in general
Over 100 countries globally have implemented various forms of Gender Responsive Budgeting. Some of the African countries include Uganda, Morocco, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Rwanda and others such as China and India. South Africa was previously leading on gender responsive budgeting but regressed at some point during the COVID-19 situation. The DWYPD is located in the Presidency as an engine of government while it provides an opportunity to lead and coordinate a GRPBMEA Framework. All government departments, public entities, provinces and municipalities are mandated to deliver on women’s emancipation and gender inequality.
- Multi-disciplinary Approach
- Setting of clear, government-wide gender-responsive policy priorities
- Based on a needs assessment or diagnostic testing
- The translation of policy priorities into programmes and interventions with measurable programme outcomes and gender-responsive indicators and targets
- Ensuring the necessary budget allocations to achieve gender priorities
- Regular expenditure reviews/impact assessments/budget audits to assess the extent to which particular expenditures indeed resulted in the intended gender equality and women’s empowerment outcomes
According to the DG, the last point is the most critical part of the whole matter.
- Public Policy Cycle
- Policy prioritisation and policy development based on exploration of policy options
- Budgeting and allocation of resources based on policy priorities and evidence on the impact of expenditure
- Implementation and expenditure in line with programme design and resource allocation
Ms Nkomo took over as Chairperson from the Caucus Chairperson since she was still having connection issues. She handed over to Members to ask questions.
A Member [identity uncertain] appreciated the presentation made by the DG and the input given by the Minister. She had two questions. Firstly, in terms of time-frames, when will budget guidelines include a requirement on gender responsive locations and programmes? Secondly, what progress has been made in building delivery on the GRPBMEA Framework into performance management systems because the Department should be doing monitoring and evaluation. It should really start to see the outcomes of the tools it is going to measure. She understands that the Auditor-General will become involved but history has taught that even though senior management do sign performance agreements, at the end of the day it amounts to zero since there is always a fruitless and wasteful expenditure. This therefore derails the implementation of what it wants to achieve. She wanted to know if people must lose their jobs because there has been no implementation on this programme. The performance agreement is not enough as it still needs to get to a place where people do not just get disciplinary hearings or warnings but needs to become a real issue. If people do not perform on gender issues, they should lose their job.
Ms W Ngwenya (ANC, Gauteng) asked if any progress has been made with regards to the achievement in goal number five? If yes, she would like more details. Does the Department have any plan or intention to bring the public sector on the Board and rescue their implementation of the framework as this will ensure gender equality in the country. What is the legislation on policy which will be supporting the framework and is it in line with its intended plan and task at hand. She also asked if this plan will be included in the tabling of the framework in the various houses and if it will be presented to the Houses of Parliament including the provincial legislatures. If yes, when and what will the process be afterwards? In terms of the monitoring within the Department, what is the latest statistics regarding the number of women with disability who are employed in various spheres of government and, if the Department is satisfied, can these statistics be shared?
Ms B Maluleke (ANC) commented that in slide 21 in the presentation, it talks about gender outcomes that will be translated to programmes with clear indicators and outcomes. It is a progressive initiative for policy priorities. On slide 51, with regards to priority areas, it indicates that Parliament will play a key role in oversight in holding the Department accountable. This Caucus will continue to support and monitor progress with specific reference to commitment and expected outcomes. On slide 53, under advocacy, awareness and evaluation, it speaks about developing a training module which is being converted to a digital platform. This Is critical because the digital economy is being spoken about regularly today. The digital economy speaks about components which includes government policy and regulating digital service providers. It is also an important drive of innovation and growth in which the platform is used by inter-premiers as well and this is where most women and girls are. This e-learning initiative should be something that is already happening now because most of the people are using digital initiatives, for example zoom meetings, and Microsoft teams. In order for businesses and education today to thrive, it will need digital competencies and most importantly affordability and better access. She hopes that this digital learning will be made a top priority.
Ms D Peters (ANC) asked the Minister and the Department to applaud the women and mothers in particular who have made sure that during this lockdown they are protecting their children by keeping them at home but also try to be their teachers to ensure that they do not lose out on leaning. Sometimes the inputs of women are not appreciated in terms of trying to make sure that it helps build society. In the presentation, the DG indicated that South Africa regressed with regards to gender responsive policy and budgeting. Why did we regress as a country? And also, what is the relationship between the Department of Performance, Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME) in assessing and evaluating the government’s commitment to gender responsive policy and budgeting. At a particular level, if the DPME is able to pick it up, they should report to the Cabinet and other important role players. Why is the Department unable to directly lobby Portfolio Committees?
Ms Peters stated that as a Member of the Standing Committee on Appropriations, which deals with the budget allocations, and also serving in the Finance Committee, she does not remember receiving a letter or notice that is related to the budget from either the DG or the Ministry. However, she explicitly remembers that it was informed that money was going to be removed from the women's budget and it is important to know why things such as this are happening. However, what the Department can do is to ensure that these possibilities are elevated to the level which will make an impact. How it is possible that even the oversight departments have the capacity to do this. Members of Parliament and those in gender studies should make sure that they fully grasp the role of women and their department in society and also what the Members would want to see happening. She also asked, what are the tenets and the key variables of the Ministry in the performance sector implemented with the President? Does the Department have the resources and capability to set up a hotline for women and children who are having historical burdens of atrocities committed against them? On social media and on a particular Facebook page, women are speaking out about their stories of sexual abuse, which shows that the Department is sitting on a time-bomb and should find a way to help them. Mothers, grandmothers and women as a whole are living with pains of their past.
Lastly, what is the most important project that the Minister and the Department would want to see Parliament supporting in the 2021 financial year? Going back to the time of the introduction to the universal child support grant, during the time of Minister Ms Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi, which is still relevant as its genesis is known and the way that the grant was. The Department therefore needs key programmes and projects that will make a dent. Such as fully supporting the work of the Department of Social Development in which the top-up of the grant and the support for carers were implemented.
Ms Nkomo stated that the Caucus Chairperson is back and that the next speaker is Ms W Newhoudt-Druchen (ANC), followed by Ms N Sharif (DA), Ms Maluleke and Ms Tshabalala again.
The Chairperson responds by thanking Ms Nkomo and that her connection issues have been fixed and handed over to the next speaker.
Ms Newhoudt-Druchen added on to Ms Swartz question regarding why South Africa has regressed. She asked if South Africa has lacked anything or if there is a particular reason why the country has regressed? What are the particular interventions needed for the regression to be reversed? Can South Africa learn from other countries to improve its situation? With COVID-19, it is a scary time for everyone, especially girls so the Department needs to ensure that critical information gets to the vulnerable children with disabilities. She stated that as a deaf person, it is very difficult to get information herself. She wanted to know from the Department if it is taking any views from women who have multiple disabilities to find out their needs during this time. Also, how is the Department making sure that little girls and people with disabilities are being sent this information. In terms of education, most of these people do not have the necessary devices and gadgets or data to communicate with the family members that they live with.
Ms N Sharif (DA) commented that it is very important that the Department is self-reflective and self-critical of the work that is done between departments and within Parliament . She wanted to commend the DG for adding this in her presentation by listing the limitations and problems that have been faced historically with GRPBMEA. Apart from the historical issues, what is the Department currently struggling and having issues with especially given now during a pandemic? She assumed that this will change and affect the timeframe of plans and operations of the GRPBMEA. She asked the Department to give an update on this matter. She also wanted to find out what findings the Department has made so far with various Annual Performance Plans. She agreed with her colleagues that Head’s must roll at some point in this process and stated that accountability seems to be a major issue when it comes to GRPBMEA. In terms of this, the presentation showed that there had been very poor planning with regards to gender and budgeting recently. She asked the Minister what makes this time different. What guarantees can the Department give that this time the process will be different and that Departmental Heads are forced to implement gender responsive planning and budgeting, because there are women that are struggling to get economic opportunities and empowerment.
A Member of the Caucus wished all women a happy World Menstrual Hygiene Day. She stated that she is more concerned with finance matters. The Department can budget and plan all it wants but it needs the National Treasury to ensure that all Departments assist in fighting matters of women and children as well. When will each Head include indicators in all programmes and when will budget guidelines include a requirement on gender responsiveness. COVID-19 has presented some challenges but there are other quick ways it can help. She asked if the Department had considered that, with gender based violence within homes and rape cases escalating in the country, there was a possibility that there could be a programme where health volunteers could do testing in households? This is especially important for matters of femicide. Is it possible for a programme in which Department Heads can partner with the testers so they can perhaps ask questions of what is happening inside these women’s households and ensuring that it is safe? Lastly, when will the Treasury include the framework across the budget cycle and Medium Term Fiscal Policy Framework for the whole module?
Dr Pilane-Majake (ANC) commented that the women of South Africa depend on this Department and it is meant to have social contact with them. However, it is not just about having that social contact with these women, it is about setting up workable systems that will make a difference in their lives in South Africa. She emphasised that institutional mechanisms for the advancement of the status of women are part of the Department’s commitments. However one of these mechanisms, the National Gender Machinery, had been neglected in terms of the gender policy framework. Without this machinery, the Department will keep just ticking the boxes without any difference being made. The Department needs to put in place a structure that will have a voice which will come from the National Gender Machinery. This will be a structure that is more representative of women in the country because it will combine the Commission for Gender Equality, the Women’s Committee, the Ministry, organs of civil society and the Caucus – which will include women from political parties. The National Gender Machinery should therefore be resuscitated. It can assist in addressing the complaints regarding the small budget. Compared to budgets of other Departments, it almost amounts to nothing. When issues of women are cut, since women are part of every facet of life, the question is raised how is monitoring going to be managed with the budget being as small as it is? There has to be a tool that will enforce accountability.
In terms of the GRPBMEA, for Ministers, Premiers, Director-Generals, it is good but it is not the first time that the Department is in this position and nothing actually happens. The same goes for gender focal points which need to be resuscitated across all spheres of government. If this was done before, it would have agreed on what the gender focal points need to be. I cannot just be an office that is not part of the decision making process, or setting up the budget or deciding who will be appointed to which. The National Gender Machinery Bill is currently not managing the inclusion of the Women Empowerment and Gender Equality Bill. The process to resuscitate this needs to be implemented so that it can actually assist. The Department will need to continue to focus on the girl child, which is not at the expense of the boy, because what happens to the girl child today prepares her to become a woman tomorrow. When situations in families are compromised, the situation for the girl is also compromised because if the child’s mother is removed from the picture, she usually becomes the one to fill that motherly role. Therefore, the situation of the girl child is different in comparison to the boy child. There are, however, other systems and mechanisms in place that protect boys.
Deputy Minister of Women, Youth and People with Disabilities, Prof Hlengiwe Mkhize, was glad that Members were able to engage with regards to the GRPBMEA Framework. In terms of what will make a difference, it is clear from the presentation, there are problems in the system as a whole. It is therefore very important for the adoption of the framework to reintroduce the kind of interventions that have to be put in place at a systematic level However the reinforcement remains a challenge. She explained that the Department still has a practice that when times are bad, the budget which is earmarked for Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities becomes affected. With the current COVID-19 situation, the Department is fully aware of the cuts made to the budget in the three spheres. Each and every budget plan in the Annual Performance Plans (APPs) is being gone through, and this impacts on Parliament to a great extent.
The Deputy Minister agreed that key projects and programmes should be implemented by the Multiparty Women’s Caucus to assist women, youth and persons with disabilities. The GRPBMEA Framework is a complex theoretical concept but one can only evaluate the impact when looking at the projects that have been adopted and whether they been successful. On goal number five, she stated that South Africa is a country that moves forward and backward. In terms of representation, the Department can say it reached gender equality, but based on the impact of what it is doing for the quality of life for women, youth and persons with disabilities, it is clear that it is faced with challenges with regards to where the programme and the country is currently. She did not have a concrete solution but in the new agendas, the Department is beginning to target youth from the ages of 15. In a decade’s time the Department will be able to say what interventions can be made so that it can talk about equality. This is when the role of Parliament should come in to support, not only the Department, but government as a whole. This is where the problem occurs because when it seeks administration, it puts emphasis on a coordinated integrated approach. When it comes to implementation, sometimes the evaluation is gender aggregated when it comes to statistics on monitoring and evaluation. In order to see success, there are a number of aspects that need to be cleaned up.
Ms Tshabalala said that in terms of the lessons learnt over time, the Department found that over the past Medium Term Strategic Framework (MTSF) period, there was a vacuum. There was no framework. But now it has the GRPBMEA. The Department is beginning to ensure that issues around gender focal points are strategically located. Managerial structures can analyse their own departmental plans before it gets analysed by the Department. The Department is strategically located, through the Minister’s office, the Ministry and the Presidency, so it is leading and spearheading these issues to heighten the issue of accountability, this being at the epicentre. She commented that the President should be applauded for taking the responsibility of overseeing the performance agreements of the Ministry. When performance agreements are being assessed, there comes a time, when people should account for if they did not achieve. If their reasons are valid they will get an opportunity for remedial action. However, if it is invalid, it will be the prerogative of the Executive Authority in the relevant department or even the President as well [to take the necessary steps].
On the issue of APP’s and when changes because of Covid-19 will be reflected, the DG responded that the APP has been revised. The old APP’s which departments had will no longer be applicable once the revised APP has been submitted which will also reflect COVID-19 issues. She referred to a document on changes in the National Budget Process on the Treasury’s part in which it indicates that its 2020 National Qualifications Guidelines there is a requirement that each department show how much of their budget goes towards the goals of the DWYPD and to modify some of the changes when submissions are made. This is a step in the right direction in ensuring that it reaches a common goal between the Department and the Women’s Caucus.
The Department has prepared a diagnostic review on why the National Gender Machinery (NGM) collapsed. It was very clear long ago that neither of the recommendations were informing the NGM Framework. Soon it will be able to action it [itself], instead of waiting on the Cabinet and other processes. It is working towards ensuring the agenda for the NGM [is revived to] address these issues.
If the Department can implement this effectively through the Cabinet with all the national provinces, local governments, including civil society, it should be able to leave [past problems] behind. Another area that deals with the inclusion of women are economic empowerment programmes These should really be addressed because it will benefit women within the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement. This will ensure that women also have the power and the leverage to participate within the trading space. There are advantages and benefits because of the fact that the Department is in the Presidency.
Ms Tshabalala said that in order to bring women on boards that control small businesses, whether it be cooperatives or Small, Medium or Micro-Enterprises (SMMEs), if it can work with key departments such as the Department of Trade and Industry, it can make sure that certain issues can be resolved and will be able to make a difference. In terms of the digital learning platform, in accordance with the National School of Governance, there is a very progressive principal that has been appointed who is very supportive of gender so the Department will make sure he is on board with digital learning.
In light of the impact of COVID-19, the Department had a webinar with the Disabilities sector and received a number of inputs that it will use to inform its APPs. In terms of what the Department is currently doing, it has been engaging with various sectors and managed to discuss issues with the Ministers of Health and Social Development. It will continue this work as they are the implementing bodies that will be able to make things happen. She concluded by telling Members to continue holding every department accountable in relation to issues of gender.
Ms Nkomo asked if any other Member wanted to respond or if there were any other comments.
The DG responded that she left out a question around issues that relate to goal number five. The Department has compiled the five year report to the Commission.
Ms Nkomo commented that for future meetings, Members who are not speaking at the time should switch off their audio and video as it interrupts with those that are speaking.
The Deputy Chairperson asked how Treasury, as well as the Financial Sector Charter (FSC), through the division of revenue, really assist in having a more gender friendly budget? Sometimes one finds that some amounts are allocated through additional grants and some are allocated to municipalities. It is left to these spheres to make sure that they re-prioritise expenditure in terms of the budget. This is especially important for needs of women, youth and persons with disabilities.
Ms Nkomo thanked all Members for their input. She responded to the Acting DG and stated that she thinks that the Multiparty Caucus is not only going to call her department but started with her only because it wanted to understand some of the issues of their mandate. Most of these have now been cleared and will assist the Department going forward. From today [the Caucus] will know exactly what is happening within that Department and what is expected of the Caucus for future reference.
The meeting was adjourned.
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