ANC applauded for gender equity

Don Makatile

Don Makatile

Despite the obvious tension and palpable divisions that have marked the 52nd ANC national conference, delegates were united in applauding Thabo Mbeki that the movement has done more for women than any other organisation before them.

This "unison" was one of the very few to reverberate from the hall hosting delegates - totaling just more than 4 000 - on assignment to elect the next ANC president.

"For many decades now," said Mbeki in his opening address, "our movement has recognised and acknowledged the fact that the emancipation of women and gender equality are one of the defining features of the National Democratic Revolution."

He mentioned how the previous conference had "reaffirmed the important matter of focusing on the challenge of the eradication of gender oppression and discrimination".

The same 51st conference, he said, directed them to "design a comprehensive strategy on our programme to build a non-sexist society and provide for the integration of gender in all aspects, policies and programmes".

Cosatu leader Zwelinzima Vavi, who had in the run-up to the conference made some regrettable statements about how only womanisers were pushing for the 50-50 representation of women in all spheres of leadership, sat staring straight ahead.

Furthermore, it was the self-same conference that instructed the movement to view the one-third representation of women in all structures as a minimum, "to be progressively increased in order to match the demographic profile of South Africa, coupled with political education and capacity building".

To further rub salt into the wound of women-bashers,

He mentioned with a tinge of pride how one-third of parliamentarians are women, 43 percent of whom were Cabinet ministers.

"We are happy that our Parliament is ranked 10th out of 130 in the world in terms of women's advancement in governance," Mbeki said.

He added that four of the provinces were led by women - Eastern Cape Premier Nosimo Balindlela, Dipuo Peters (Northern Cape), Edna Molewa (North West) and the Free State's BeatriceMarshoff.

He had kind words for the Women's League, who he commended for taking up issues on behalf of women.