Gender Mainstreaming in Municipalities: Provincial and Local Government Department briefing

Meeting Summary

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Meeting report


19 October 2007

Acting Chairperson: Ms X Makasi (ANC)

Documents handed out:

Gender Mainstreaming in Municipalities

Audio recording of meeting [
Part 1]&[Part 2]

The Department of Provincial and Local Government Department briefed the Committee on the initiatives for mainstreaming of gender. It would like all spheres of government to be involved with gender mainstreaming, not necessarily through providing a separate budget, but rather by impressing upon departments that they must incorporate gender needs within their programmes. The Department had been guided by the five-year local government strategic agenda and work done by government through Project Consolidate. The Department must think consciously about how service delivery backlogs were addressing women in particular – such as in the rural areas.
Equity and development programmes were divided into the main categories of Youth, HIV and AIDS, Gender and Disability and information management and special projects. Mainstreaming would ensure recognition of all groups, and ideally programmes should be incorporated into Integrated Development Plans of municipalities. There had been good increase in women mayors, although the balance of Municipal Managers needed improvement. Challenges included insufficient human and financial resources, inadequate implementation at local level, role confusion, and viewing gender equality as an unfunded mandate. A special unit at the Department was driving gender mainstreaming and the policy framework was completed. Members asked questions on the position in Gauteng and suggested that the Committee write to the Minister about the lack of an Office on the Status of Women, expressed concern that some information had not been made available, and on the confusion of the roles. They suggested coordination with provinces and districts, better approaches to disseminating information, and pointed out that gender awareness did not only apply to women. Further questions related to the languages used in the campaigns, the funding and management of funds, and the way in which human rights were incorporated.


Ms Makasi was nominated as Acting Chairperson

Gender Mainstreaming in Municipalities: Department of Provincial and Local Government (DPLG) Briefing
Dr Simphiwe Munghadi, Executive Manager: Equity and Development, DPLG, explained why there was a need to mainstream gender at local government level. DPLG believed that this sphere of government was closest to the people and would be ideal for ensuring implementation of the mainstreaming initiatives. The DPLG was in the process of reviewing the White Paper on local government so that it addressed the issues of women and gender, and to fill the policy gaps when reviewing the policy documents. The Department had been guided by the five-year local government strategic agenda and work done by government through Project Consolidate. There would be structures to support the key performance areas in local government, thus ensuring that gender would be mainstreamed in all five areas. The Department would have to think consciously on how service delivery backlogs affected both men and women. For example, backlogs in providing piped water would result in women would having to carry water in buckets to their homes and so they bear the greatest burden on backlogs. It was crucial that infrastructure plans focus on the needs of women.

The vision of the DPLG was in line with the sustainable development notion, where women contributed towards development. The equity and development programmes were divided into the main categories of Youth, HIV and AIDS, Gender and Disability and information management and special projects. The Department would be guided by national policy frameworks and try to implement the frameworks and policies in the municipalities

DPLG believed that mainstreaming was the strategy that would ensure women’s plans were recognised. They would like to see actual programmes in municipal Integrated Development Plans (IDP),  incorporating women issues at the core of all government programmes. IDP processes were consultative, with communities and stakeholders bringing their inputs so other parties contributed to them. A graph was tabled showing that since the 2006 local elections there was 40% representation of women at local government, and this was an improvement on the previous women’s representation of 19%. The Department showed a comparative representation of mayors per province between 2004 and 2006. The gender balance for  municipal managers still needed to improve , as there was a slight change from 6.3% to 7%.

Gender focal points were organised per province, differentiated into municipal and district municipalities. Special programme coordinators focused on issues of gender under either special programmes or transversal services. The individuals would look at designated groups, and had been looking at programmes for addressing these particular groups. It had not been possible to obtain specific information on what was happening in Gauteng, nor in the Eastern Cape. The presenter explained the coordination at provinces and how the offices worked together in assisting municipalities.

The IDPs were generally silent on gender and the Department had realised that addressing the gender would have to be at the core of government. Other challenges had been insufficient resources, both human and financial. Once systems had been developed there would be centralised data in the monitoring and implementation programme. There had not been adequate implementation at local level between national, regional, international and municipal. There had been role confusion on the role of local government departments and implementation. Gender equality has been viewed as an unfunded mandate but DPLG did not think the problem was necessarily the need for additional funds, but for adoption of a different attitude towards ensuring that women also benefited.

The Department had developed a specific unit, headed by a Chief Director, for driving gender mainstreaming at municipalities. It had been engaging with the provinces, and had visited seven already. The gender policy framework for local government to guide municipalities on how to implement these programmes had been completed. The women mayor support project should be implemented before the end of this year.

The Acting Chairperson mentioned that on appointment of the female Deputy Minister to  Local Government there had been significant changes, especially with the gender mainstreaming emphasis.  

Ms J Semple (DA) agreed that the situation had improved and expressed her thanks for the enthusiastic approach of the Deputy Minister.

Ms Semple requested an indication of gender mainstreaming, focal points and special programme co coordinators’ representation in the different municipalities, specifically in Gauteng. She noted that there was no Office on the Status of Women (OSW) in the Premier’s office in Gauteng and wondered if that did not impact on the status of its gender mainstreaming issues.

Dr Munghadi replied that it was a contributing factor. They were still a small unit in the office of the Deputy Minister. The Department was visiting the provinces to see what was happening. In Gauteng they could not put a plan of action in place because they were not available.

Ms Mmaletogo Ditsebe, Manager: Equity and Development,  DPLG, mentioned that there were some initiatives at the ground level around the empowerment of women although not structured in an appropriate way.

Ms Semple was concerned that the Department could not obtain information on provinces like Eastern Cape although the mayor was female. She further mentioned that Gauteng was weak and wondered what the problem was there.

Dr Munghadi responded that when DPLG went to the Eastern Cape they wanted the role players to know whom they would be working with. They had not visited the Eastern Cape province yet, and so could not obtain the information and would be visiting Eastern Cape next week

Ms Semple referred to the role confusion and challenges, and asked what was done to explain what they should be doing.

Dr Munghadi responded that the purpose of the visits was to address those challenges and roles. She further mentioned that the officials had referred to the Constitution when explaining the roles.

Ms B Ntuli (ANC) referred to leverage and resources to invest in women, and pointed to local government policies, asking how would DPLG look at the policies across all the departments, and how these would relate to women. She suggested that there should be coordination with provinces and district.

Ms Ditsebe replied that the Department had integrated development planning that assisted local municipalities to plan on a 5 year plan through consultation and rectify problems. She further mentioned that perhaps the tool was not working as it should. They also had provincial forums that would assist them to collaborate their efforts more.

Ms Ntuli wondered if the Department was in a position to provide leadership to these provinces because they seemed to have challenges disseminating the information.

Ms Ntuli wondered how mainstreaming development could be linked with land affairs, pointing out that land being sold to foreigners was sometimes a problem.

Ms M Nxumalo (ANC) was worried about the strategy of monitoring all these programmes. She gave an example of Women’s Day celebrations and indicated that where there were women premiers the buses were full, but where there were male premiers less had been done.  She asked how DPLG would they monitor their programmes that were not implemented on the ground.

Ms Nxumalo mentioned that gender awareness does not only apply to women, so they should empower men to partner with men.

Ms Ditsebe replied that the Department was aware of monitoring and evaluation, hence was insisting on indicators looking at the vulnerable groups.

Dr Munghadi agreed with Ms Nxumalo and her colleague on the need to improve the monitoring and evaluation. The Department had partners to look at the impact of events and programmes that were running. The focus would be on how to change behaviour or attitudes of people towards the different gender groups.

Ms M Meruti (ANC) congratulated the Department on the work they were doing, since the gender focal points had not been effective before. There had been programmes that needed funds. DPLG would need to have power to make decisions.

Ms Meruti responded that the gender focal points had been intended to fill the gap. The Department had realised that they did not mainly focus on gender, hence their impact was spread across all the vulnerable groups.

Dr Munghadi stated that every sphere and sector of government needed to think about gender mainstreaming, and contextualising this gender mainstreaming both internally and outside.

Ms Ntuli wondered if the budget of municipalities talked to women, and requested an explanation on the accounting measures.

Dr Munghadi replied that DPLG had not in the past addressed this but would do so. DPLG would assist in terms of managing the funds and reporting adequately so that municipalities did not get qualified statements. Reporting would fall under the mandate of National Treasury.

Ms Ntuli wondered about the language used, and if this reflected all the South African official languages, and whether or not they have interpreters or translators.

Dr Munghadi responded that interpretation would not always be available. Some of the guidelines also had shortened guidelines, as with the case for the HIV/Aids, which had been translated into eight languages. DPLG was aware of the need but the process of delivering products was slower.

Ms Ntuli asked about the Department’s relationship with human rights issues.

Dr Munghadi replied that DPLG had not been working with the Human Rights Commission but had worked with the Commission for Gender Equality. There was a human rights approach to ensure that everyone would be included. She explained why the Western Cape did not have a gender focal point.

Ms Ntuli asked the relationship between the equity development and women’s commission.

Ms Semple suggested the Committee should hear a further presentation after Eastern Cape visit which would include the level at which gender focal points would be accommodated.

Ms Semple suggested that the Premiers’ office that had not appointed the OSW, and had thus not complied with the laws, should be addressed. She suggested that the Committee should write to the Deputy Minister in that regard.

Dr Munghadi replied that the general challenge was that those offices had a broadly human rights approach and had a gender focal person. Others just had a human rights approach and in this way justified not needing a gender focal person.

The Acting Chairperson mentioned that the gender focal points should focus on women.

The Acting Chairperson referred to the massacre of women in KZN and wondered if the unit had investigated that.

Dr Munghadi replied that the DPLG had not followed up on that, but had taken up the gender machinery on the issue of a woman being harassed for wearing trousers.

The Acting Chairperson requested an indication of the race categories in the provinces as well.

Dr Munghadi responded that there was a unit in the Department that looked at these things but unfortunately she did not bring those records with her. 

Mr D Mabena (ANC) was concerned about ambiguity could creep in during interpretation from one language to the other, and wondered how the interpretation was done. 

Mr Mabena indicated that it seemed gender-concerned units were very active during the 16 days of Activism and he wondered how the message was conveyed. He further mentioned that women could be perpetrators as well as victims, and the message seemed to focus only on women as victims. He suggested that the Department find a way of including everyone - both men and women.
Mr Mabena suggested that there be self-introspection, and that instead of departments working alone, there should be one entity working to coordinate the whole gender mainstreaming. 

Mr Mabena suggested that legal experts should interpret what was embedded in these gender policy frameworks.

Ms Ditsebe answered that she could not include everything in the presentation. There were initiatives taking place on the ground, some undertaken by focal points mentioned, some by mayors. The ordinary women in the villages were communicating with the localities.

Ms Ntuli referred to the legislation recently passed that would allow children over the age of 12 years to obtain sexually-related facilities without parental consent. She asked if there had been research conducted to see the impact of children being allowed to take contraception.

Ms Ditsebe responded, in regard to reporting systems, that the municipalities were already required by legislation to report on their plans. There had not been a problem with the focal points in district municipalities. Ms Ditsebe requested the Members that when they went on oversight visits they should advocate for development of policies and collaboration in implementation.

The Acting Chairperson thanked everyone and assured them they would do oversight. Gender was not about supporting women only,  but trying to bridge the gap.

The meeting was adjourned.


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