Cabinet’s increased gender balance welcomed

27 May 2014

The increased proportion of female ministers and deputy ministers in President Jacob Zuma’s new Cabinet is a move in the right direction, the Commission for Gender Equality (CGE) said on Tuesday.

“The CGE believes although 50/50 gender parity has not been reached, it is within reach and should be possible to reach in the next election,” CGE spokesperson Javu Baloyi said.

The new Cabinet, announced on Sunday, includes 15 women out of 35 ministers in total, meaning women constitute about 40% of the Cabinet.

“Given that in the previous Cabinet, woman ministers constituted about a third of the members … the CGE is pleased to note this as a significant step in the right direction,” Baloyi said.

He added that the commission was also pleased with the increase in the proportion of woman deputy ministers; there are 20 male and 16 female deputy ministers.

The CGE also commended the creation of the new Ministry of Women in the Presidency – to be headed by former Minerals Resources Minister Susan Shabangu – saying it was an indicator of the importance of solving gender issues in the country.

“The political clout that comes with the Office of the President should be an important resource for the new ministry,” he said.

“The CGE can only hope that this new institutional development comes with renewed political commitment and willingness to use the positive lessons derived from the experiences of the former OSW [Office on the Status of Women] to ensure a more effective ministry, with the space to make a difference in terms of leading gender transformation in the country.”