Polygamy oppresses women, but the ANC must accept those people who practise it, gender commission member Patricia Cheu said on Friday.
"Polygamy in its practice oppresses women; if you are a women activist you will not agree with polygamy," she told media on the sidelines of the ANC policy conference in Midrand.
However, society should accept those who do agree with it.
"The ANC, it is a broad organisation, it accepts all ideas, we can't expel them out of the ANC because they support certain issues."
She said South Africans must live side-by-side with those choosing polygamy.
"We need to accommodate people with diverse ideas."
But she emphasised polygamy is not isolated to South Africa.
"People must stop raising this issue as a South African issue... it's a worldwide issue, even white women stay in polygamous marriages."
She said polygamy was part of the evolution of society.
"Polygamy is not a South African issue, it is an evolution of society... we should not isolate it as an issue that comes for nowhere; even in Germany it is there, in America it is there, so don't treat is as a South African issue."
The leader of the ANC President Jacob Zuma practises polygamy, and currently has four wives.
The gender commission recommended the establishment of an academy to train prostitutes in life skills so they can gain independence.
It called for gender equality in the top six positions on the ANC's national executive committee, and in all structures of the ANC and the private sector.
The commission wanted a gender summit to examine women's rights.
"We had planned with women from the alliance... to unpack this [gender] issue, but... in the commission they said no," ANC Women's League treasurer general Hlengiwe Mkhize said.
"What we need... is a gender summit, which will look at power relations in all respects, so that it is not only women who are talking about these issues..."
Friday was the last day of the four-day summit to discuss policies to be adopted at the ANC's national conference in Mangaung in December.