ANC Women’s League president Angie Motshekga has announced wide-ranging proposals for accelerating the fight against sexual discrimination in South Africa, from laws ensuring that all parties field 50% women candidates to laws making sexism a crime.
In a briefing on the ANC discussion document on gender, Motshekga took up a number of issues:
Motshekga said the ANC wanted legislative changes to ensure that the Independent Electoral Commission only accepted lists from parties which agreed to the 50/50 principle of equal representation for men and women on their electoral lists.
“The IEC should not accept party lists that do not represent the 50/50 principle. The pursuit of the 50/50 principle should not be the work of the ANC alone.
“The IEC should look at the list and say this list discriminates against women and refuse to accept it because it violates the Constitution. This should not be a matter of choice.”
Motshekga said the proposals before the NGC called for the outlawing of sexism by the creation of an equality bill which would force South Africans at all levels of society to practice non-sexism.
“Despite the successes made in representation of women at political and decision-making levels, there are serious questions about the meaningful participation and inclusion of women in the political sphere and private sector.
“The 50/50 parity target must be actively pursued at all levels of government and compliance and accountability must be enforced. The private sector has, in spite of employment-equity requirements, made less progress in achieving gender parity within the ranks of its senior management.
“The envisaged Gender Equality Bill must be fast-tracked to speed up 50/50 parity in the private sector and the corporate world.”
All equal before the criminal justice system
Motshekga said the representation of women in the judiciary had to be fast-tracked and combined with new legislation, including laws abolishing certain customary laws which undermine the inheritance and property rights of women.
“Historically the criminal justice system was created for the needs of men, as the market was male only.
However, the market has changed to include women. Customs, social and religious systems – including culture – have in the past promoted patriarchy and the oppression of women.
Discrimination against women due to the above institutions took a variety of forms, from disenfranchisement to various forms of abuse.
These institutions are still intact and still practise their cultures.
“Women are still under-represented in the judiciary. There is a need for specific training programmes to fast-track the employment of women into the judiciary at all levels.
“There are a number of bills that are in the process of being introduced to Parliament that will have a profound effect on the transformation of the judiciary, such as the Constitution Amendment Bill, the Superior Court Bill and the Legal Practice Bill.”
Education and the economy
Motshekga called for 50% of all learnerships to be earmarked for young women so that empowerment took place, especially in historically male-dominated areas of the economy.
“There are more girls enrolled for the senior certificate than boys.
“At tertiary level there are more females enrolled.
“However, women are in lower numbers in technical universities and therefore in technological and scientific fields of study. More women are enrolled at the higher level of study such as in masters.
“But other statistics show that more men are employed than females.
“There is therefore no correlation between women’s success in numbers and studies at higher level with that of employment in the economic sector.”