‘There should be more women in Parliament’

2014-03-25 00:00

THE number of women on the candidate lists for Parliament and the legislatures should not only be substantive but the lists should contain meaningful women leaders.

“We should have greater women numbers so that we are able as a country to reach a 50-50 representation,” Sonke Gender Justice Network’s Mbuyiselo Botha said yesterday.

Botha made the comment as the political party’s candidate lists are due to be published in order for the public to lodge objections on those who did not qualify to be nominated.

He said since the women were the majority in the country, the nominations on the parties’ candidates should be reflected as such.

“That should be a prerequisite before lists are made. The Independent Electoral Commission should be the one ensuring that candidate lists reflect 50-50 representation,” Botha added.

The country has over the past 20 years seen the number of women steadily increase in the provincial legislatures and the national assembly.

In 1994, Parliament had 27% women representation and 45% after the 2009 general elections.

Non-governmental organisation Gender Links had in 2009 noted that candidate lists submitted to the Independent Electoral Commission had shown an 11% increase in the number of women in Parliament.

This had put South Africa just behind Rwanda (56%) and Sweden (47%) in global rankings of women representatives in their parliaments.

Gender Links said the results had put South Africa within the Southern African Development Community target of 50% in political decision-making by 2015.

Although there is nothing forcing parties to ensure their candidate lists comply with gender equality, individual parties make use of quotas to ensure women are fairly represented with the ANC the only party with gender-balanced candidates lists.

A Women Empowerment and Equality Bill, which provides for women representation in decision-making in both the private and the public sectors, was recently approved by Parliament despite criticism in some quarters.

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