3 August 2012
Minister for Women, Children and People with Disabilities Lulu Xingwana has called for “gender-responsive” budgeting to be used as a tool for reducing inequality and advancing women’s empowerment.
“We are fully aware that budgets have been instrumental in perpetuating gender biases globally,” Xingwana said during the launch of South Africa’s Women’s Month in Pretoria on Wednesday. “We also know that budgets can be instrumental in transforming and redressing existing gender inequalities.”
Earlier this year, the department launched the Women and Budgeting Initiative in partnership with the Motsepe Foundation. The aim was to reflect on the budgeting process and economic frameworks and how these could constrain or promote the development and implementation of policies aimed at empowering women and vulnerable groups.
South Africans will commemorate Women’s Month under the theme “56 Years of Women United against Poverty, Inequality and Unemployment”.
The government declared August Women’s Month as a tribute to the thousands of women who marched, on 9 August 1956, in protest against the extension of apartheid’s hated Pass Laws to women.
Xingwana said South Africa had registered significant progress in women’s empowerment and gender equality.
“An array of measures, introduced since 1994 to promote women empowerment and uphold gender equality, have drastically improved the position and conditions of women in our country. Women occupy influential positions in government and play an important role in decision-making processes.”
Xingwana pointed out, however, that women still bore a disproportionate burden of the triple challenges 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.”
Xingwana said the process of developing the Women Empowerment and Gender Equality Bill was at an advanced stage, and it would be tabled before Cabinet during the 2012/13 financial year.
The Bill will help enforce compliance in both the government and the private sector.