South Africa is set to earn a piece of legislation that will make gender parity a legal requirement.
This was expressed by the Minister of Women, Children and People with Disabilities, Lulu Xingwana this week. Referring to the impact of the Women Empowerment and Gender Equality Bill, the minister said the bill was designed to help enforce gender parity both in the private and public sectors. The Bill was approved by Cabinet last week.
“Fifty-Fifty representation will be law in this country once the Act has been approved. We are confident that this Bill will contribute towards institutionalising mainstreaming both within government and the private sector. Through this Bill, we will be responding to the calls made by many women of our country who find themselves discriminated against on the basis of their gender”
Xingwana was delivering a keynote address the Gender Responsive Budgeting Initiative breakfast meeting hosted by the Motsepe Foundation, an initiative of billionaire Patrice Motsepe. The Motsepe Foundation launched the Gender Responsive Budgeting Initiative early this year to advance women empowerment. The Foundation is chaired by Motsepe’s wife Dr Precious Moloi-Motsepe.
Xingwana said Gender responsive budgets are not separate budgets for women or for men, but rather, they are actual budgets that are planned, appropriated and monitored in a gender responsive manner. “Developing good policies that are gender sensitive has no meaning without an adequate budget to implement the policy, particularly the gender aspect of it”.
“We are fully aware that budgets have been instrumental in perpetuating gender biases globally. We also know that budgets can be instrumental in transforming and redressing existing gender inequalities”.
Mainstreaming gender into budgeting processes is critical to building an equal society. We believe that gender-responsive budgeting can be a tool to promote the socio-economic rights of women, children and people with disabilities, and is key to reducing inequality in our country.
“We must ensure gender mainstreaming in budgeting processes and programme implementation to ensure that we do not, inadvertently, perpetuate gender inequalities and marginalization of women. In this regard, we must continue to work tirelessly to ensure that the New Growth Path and the Green Fund are gender and disability responsive”.
The Minister said that the critical question that should be confronted is: How have we utilised the national budget to address the poverty, unemployment and inequality that continue to confront society in general, and women in particular?
“We need to reflect on the budgeting process and economic frameworks and how these can constrain or promote the development and implementation of policies aimed at empowering women and vulnerable groups”.
She said that the Gender Responsive Budget Initiative sought to ensure that the needs of women were specifically addressed within the planning and budgeting framework. “It is only through this that we can be able to narrow or even eliminate gender inequality and the severe economic imbalances that continue to negatively affect the majority of women and girls in this country”.
“This initiative has a very big potential of becoming an effective tool that will eventually help us reduce the high dependence of women and girls on their male counterparts. Many women are unable to report cases of abuse to the police when their partners are perpetrators because of their economic and financial dependence on men. The economic vulnerability of women is dragging all our good efforts down”.
The Minster said that South Africa has the most progressive policies and legislations that are aimed at advancing women empowerment and gender equality. “However, the challenge remains the actual translation of these policies and legislative frameworks into implementation. As a result, our women still bear a disproportionate burden of poverty, inequality and unemployment. They continue to be marginalized and discriminated against in terms of economic opportunities in the labour market as well as access to land, credit, and finance”.
“We must continue to strengthen the capacity of provincial and local government, planners and policy-makers, so that they can prepare their provincial budget plans from a gender perspective”.
This Gender Responsive Budget Initiative will be piloted in the Eastern Cape and Limpopo provinces where some of the country’s most severely impoverished women live. The two provinces also have a large concentration of rural areas where the need is more critical.
“We are painfully aware that financial dependency on husbands, fathers, partners and family members has increased women’s vulnerability to domestic violence, rape, incest, abuse, and murder. We remain convinced that empowering women will help us win the war against poverty, inequality, unemployment and abuse”.