Gender equality draft law approved

22 August 2012

The Cabinet on Wednesday approved the Women Empowerment and Gender Equality Draft Bill for publication in the Government Gazette for public comment.

The draft law is aimed at enforcing compliance in both the government and the private sector in matters of gender mainstreaming and equality.

It also seeks to provide the Minister of Women, Children and People with Disabilities with the necessary authority to monitor, review and oversee gender mainstreaming and integration of gender equality considerations into all programmes of government and other sectors; and to promote the protection and advancement of women as envisaged in section 9 (2) of the Constitution.

During the launch of Women’s Month, Minister of Women, Children and People with Disabilities Lulu Xingwana highlighted noted an array of measures that have drastically improved the position and conditions of women in the country since 1994.

“Women occupy influential positions in government and play an important role in decision-making processes,” Xingwana said.

She pointed out, however, that women still bore a disproportionate burden of the triple challenge of poverty, inequality and unemployment.

“Women continue to be marginalised and discriminated against in terms of economic opportunities, the labour market as well as access to land, credit and finance.”

According to the 2011 Businesswomen Association (BWA) South African Women in Leadership Census, women hold only 4.4% of CEO/MD positions, 5.3% of chairperson positions and 15.8% of all directorships.

The report indicated that in the public service, women hold 35% of all senior managerial positions.

Xingwana said she was confident that through the Women Empowerment and Gender Equality Bill, the department would be responding to the calls made by the BWA and many women who find themselves discriminated against on the basis of their gender.

The Bill is expected to be published on the Government Gazette this week and the public will have 30 days to submit their comments.