KZN lagging in terms of women in the legislature

2014-07-15 00:00

THE Commission on Gender Equality (CGE) has found that KwaZulu-Natal is lagging behind other provinces at 37% in women’s representation in the legislature.

The preliminary findings of CGE’s study also found that the DA refused to participate in the exercise while the IFP withdrew at the last minute.

In an interview with The Witness, CGE commissioner Janine Hicks said the study looked into 50-50 women representation in Parliament and legislature after May 7 elections, as well as internal systems put in place by political parties to support and encourage the advancement and empowerment of women in leadership positions.

“We have been engaging with political parties and we just completed a big study with the ANC, Congress of the People and the UDM.

“We were supposed to work with the IFP, but they withdrew at the last minute and the DA refused to co-operate with us,” Hicks said.

According to the KZN commissioner, the study showed that the province performed poorly. “In this province we are actually the worst,” she said.

The province has 37% women in the legislature. Boasting 80 MPLs, the legislature has only 33 women lawmakers with the opposition, especially the DA, IFP and NFP under-represented by women.

The ANC has 26 women MPLs, DA and IFP two each while NFP, EFF and Minority Front have one each.

Limpopo is reported as the best performing province with 53% women representation, Mpumalanga 50%, Eastern Cape 44%, Northern Cape 40% and North West 39%.

“We are about to release it [the study] but we have to take the findings back to each of the secretary-generals of the parties to share with them our findings to make sure we don’t have factual errors,” Hicks said.

Although no date has been set for the release of the findings, it should be in August or soon thereafter.

Hicks added that in the national Parliament women’s representation dropped from 44% to 41%.

“The reason is we have got one party that has voluntarily adopted a quota. Only the ANC has a 50-50 representation in place and as the ANC loses seats in Parliament, we lose women’s seats. We have seen it happening, especially in provincial legislatures.” she said.

She blamed the drop in the representation of women to some parties being without a quota system.

While the IFP and DA did not participate in the study, the CGE is pinning its hopes on the passing of the Women Empowerment and Gender Equality (WEGE) Bill to force parties to provide it with information when conducting its studies and also comply with gender transformation.

Hicks said the commission would still continue to monitor the parties and engage their leadership before they held elective conferences. Commenting on poor representation of women holding premierships, Hicks said: “We lost ground there as well. The ANC got eight of nine premiers, but we only saw two women come through,” she said.

‘It’s unlike IFP to snub study’

IFP SPOKESPERSON Joshua Mazibuko yesterday said it was unlike his party to have snubbed the Commission Gender Equality’s study into gender transformation.

“It would be inimical of the IFP to withdraw from an agenda that takes up issues to empower women,” Mazibuko said.

He said he was not aware that the IFP had withdrawn from the study as claimed by the commission.

“I don’t have details of who was contacted and what response was given to the commission.”

Mazibuko added that he did not recall the matter tabled to the national council, which he is a member of, for the party to withdraw from the study.

Meanwhile, Legislature spokesperson Wonder Hlongwa said: “There is very little that the KZN Legislature as an institution can do about gender representation of the elected officials because it’s the individual political parties which field the list of their representatives to the legislature.”

The DA leaders in KwaZulu-Natal could not be reached for comment by the time of going to press.

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