Gender commission needs a shot of feminism

2012-01-14 17:54

Concerns have been raised about the number of former commissioners and people without a real voice on women’s issues who are dominating the 15 people shortlisted to lead the Commission on Gender Equality (CGE).

Gender activists questioned whether the quality of candidates for the nine-member commission would be able to resuscitate the ailing institution.

The CGE has failed to dominate debates on women’s issues or maintain its visibility.

Public Protector Thuli Madonsela and gender activists have slammed the CGE for failing to carry out its mandate, mismanaging its finances and poor administration.

Colleen Lowe-Morna, Gender Links chief executive, called the commission “a failed institution” which was merely wasting taxpayers’ money.

CGE has been in disarray for years and has lurched from one crisis to another even when the commissioners changed.

Lowe-Morna said only Thoko Mpumlwana, former deputy chairperson of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), Mbuyiselo Botha of Sonke Gender Justice Network and Professor Amanda Gouws from the University of Stellenbosch inspired ­confidence.

“I’m not sensing in that list a high level of institutional knowledge. You need to be confident on gender issues if you are running the commission. Experience for me would be a top criterion,” she said.

Because of the CGE’s dysfunctional state, she said it would take “strong leadership” to pull it out of the situation.

Another gender activist, executive director at the Trade Collective Liepollo Pheko, said too many of the commissioners on the short list were too old or had not done well in their previous term.

Current commissioners Mfanozelwe Shozi, Yvette Abrahams, Ndileka Loyilane and Janine Hicks made it to the list for a possible second term.

Said Pheko: “We also need people who are not just gender activists, but have a strong feminist discourse.
“We need that feminist discourse in education, on justice and on broad social issues”.

Interviews will happen in the next two weeks and the list of nine successful candidates will be sent to President Jacob Zuma for ­approval.

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