Gender matters should be dealt with by the presidency, says Gwen Ramokgopa

Amanda Khoza Presidency reporter
Co-ordinator in the ANC’s secretary-general’s office Gwen Ramokgopa.
Co-ordinator in the ANC’s secretary-general’s office Gwen Ramokgopa.
Image: Sandile Ndlovu

ANC national executive member Gwen Ramokgopa says the party has recommended that all gender issues be dealt with by President Cyril Ramaphosa’s office.

Addressing the media on Friday during the ANC's sixth national policy conference at Nasrec, Johannesburg, Ramokgopa gave an overview of the discussion document on gender and women emancipation.

She said commissions need to look at how the party deals with weaknesses of the current gender machinery and recommended it be led by the president.

“We have realised that the ministry as it is, is viewed at the same level with all the other ministries and it is not making the impact that we would have expected it would.

“The recommendation is that the issues should be elevated to be led by the presidency, similar to the HIV/Aids programme with a national department or ministry in the presidency doing the co-ordination and monitoring and the support to the leadership of the presidency.

“We also said that the women’s ministry is grossly under-resourced since it was established and it is not able to make the desired impact.”

She said: “Many laws adopted since 1994 continue to be amended regularly to entrench further women’s empowerment and equality in society and in the world of work, ensuring that there is a greater move towards equal pay for equal work, and that workplaces are free of harassment.”

On the decriminalisation of sex work, she said it’s not a policy decision that can be taken without consultations.

“We hope that out of this conference we can also look at how to find a consensus in society and move decisively forward.”

Gender parity for leadership positions was also discussed.

“We noticed that in parliament and government in general, it was the first time in 2019 that we achieved the 50/50% representation in cabinet. However, when you look at deputy ministers we are still below, at about 46%. Premiers we are at 27%, whereas women voters are 55%.

“In our own organisation, those that do door-to-door as volunteers are mainly women.”

Ramokgopa said between 2019/2020, in terms of judges, women constituted only 38.2% and in 2021 it improved to 43%.

“With magistrates, we had 48.8% in 2019/2020 and in 2020/2021 it remained the same. “

The area with the least progress in terms of gender parity is in the private sector, she said.

“In JSE-listed entities, the women chairs of boards as a percentage of all chairs of boards was at 10% in 2021. Although we appreciate that it improved from 3.5% in 2011 to 8.4% in 2015, it’s still very low.”

“We noted that SA is still rated high on the list of the most unequal countries in the world with women still exposed to high unemployment and poverty. That gender mainstreaming mitigates potential unintentional gender bias and helps produce better gender and equality outcomes.”

She said there was a need to do more in this area.

She added that women spent more time on household duties than men.

“Women spend more time per day (32 minutes) taking care of household members, compared with men at four minutes and that access to basic services helps women to support the households in this regard.”

Ramokgopa said it was also highlighted that the structural barriers in the economy have left a high level of poverty and unemployment, not only among black people in general but women in particular.

They also reflected on the 40% preferential procurement rate as an intervention and an instrument for transformation in the hands of the state.

“While we noted progress in a number of areas, we also noted unclarified public expenditure reports, which is quite a huge number at 6.7% and I think she is an area that needs to be unpacked so that we can be able to see where the interventions and changes need to take place.

On the decriminalisation of sex work, she said it’s not a policy decision that can be taken without consultations.
On the decriminalisation of sex work, she said it’s not a policy decision that can be taken without consultations.
Image: Nolo Moima

The plight of young women also received the delegates' attention.

“If you look at the demographics of the youth that are not in education, employment and training institutions, 44% are male and 55% are female.”

The importance of Ramaphosa declaring the GBVF as a “scourge in society of epidemic proportion” was recognised.

The adoption of the district developmental approach helped the ministers, their deputies and MECs to reach outlying areas and cover the country.

“We also looked at gender and international relations and recommended that the commissions should look at how to continue advocating for gender-sensitive and more robust interventions in the programmes that combat gender inequalities ...”

The commissions will also look at how to anchor gender equity in the ANC.

“In our consultations, which unfortunately have not gone as deepl as the other papers, the issue of 50/50 parity, even at the level of official, was raised strongly including at the national working committee (NWC).”


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