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Malibongwe - Women’s Publication of the ANC Parliamentary Caucus

VOLUME 1 • JUNE 2007


Foreword

The African National Congress is committed to the strategic vision of creating a united, non-sexist, non-racial, democratic and prosperous South Africa. At the end of this year in December, we shall hold our last National Conference before we celebrate our one hundredth birth-day. The policies and programmes that we will decide upon in the upcoming conference will, among other things, have to address the issue of the coexistence of patriarchy and democracy in our country, as we deepen the struggle for the complete destruction of the unequal social relations in our society and the creation of a better life for all.

Gender mainstreaming is defined as a means of addressing gender imbalances that existed within our society

Women have through-out our history, been a vital component part of the cadreship that has fought in the bitter struggles against the unjust and grossly inhuman systems of the past. They played an important role in the liberation struggle, carrying on militant campaigns against apartheid laws and participated in the armed struggle. They suffered ruthless repression, restrictions, imprisonment, torture and assassinations at the hands of the racist white minority regime. The best tribute we can pay to these heroines is to defend the gains that have been made and also in action, to change the lives of those who have yet to taste this freedom in real terms, the majority of whom are the black, poor, rural and working class women living on the periphery of society. In this regard, this year’s January 8th Statement says:

“We must also take care to ensure that women are integrally involved and targeted in the design and implementation of our economic empowerment programmes. As a section of society, who despite comprising more than half of our people, continues to confront additional economic disadvantages, all our programmes need to have a capacity to benefit and empower women”.

Our obligation as a revolutionary movement must therefore be to ensure that we expand the scope for women to be involved in the revolutionary process. Among other things, this relates to the ongoing need for women at all levels and in all walks of life, to be able to thoroughly discuss and exchange ideas on how best to carry forward this responsibility.

Since the defeat of the apartheid system women have notched important victories and advances. Nevertheless, there are still challenges ahead of us which must be addressed bearing in mind that our freedom from apartheid and the continuing struggle against the legacy of colonialism would be meaningless unless they meant the simultaneous liberation of women from national, class and gender oppression.

In our country, patriarchy continues to exist, taking subtle forms and different variations mediated by other divisions like class, race, sexual orientation and so on. It cuts through all social aspects as a parasite that demeans our humanistic values, taking the colour of whatever economic, political, social, cultural, religious and other relations. It even despoils our family relations.

It is thus of vital importance that we engage in practical efforts to ensure that our society does not become complacent, lulled by an assumption that democracy automatically results in change in gender relations as this may lead to all of us unintentionally buying into patriarchy or getting absorbed into it.

A conscious development of theory is critical to help in deepening our understanding of the workings and manifestations of patriarchy, its machinations, its character and its different forms in our organisations and society. This effort needs to draw from the totality of human experience including the values of ubuntu and all the progressive aspects found in our national cultural heritage.

Even though Malibongwe is a journal of the ANC women in Parliament, it must serve as a catalyst for an exciting exchange of ideas on all issues affecting women whatever their station in life. We must work to ensure that it is used as a tool to sharpen our organizational and political capacity to accelerate the cause of women emancipation.

Malibongwe will be published twice a year to coincide with some of the historically important events, namely the International Women’s Day and the National Women’s Day. Both these days are of immense historical significance and it is appropriate that we commemorate them by reflecting on the challenges that remain in the struggle to achieve the total emancipation of women.

Malibongwe!


Contents

Towards total eradication of gender discrimination
BY SINDISWA PATRICIA RWEXANA

Interview with Hon. President Gertrude Mongella

Deepening gender equality
BY STOREY MASAFELE ROSALIA MORUTOA

Rural women, poverty and economic development
BY MAKWENA LYDIA NGWENYA

The Gender Commission and Gender Mainstreaming
BY PAMELA TSHWETE

Gender challenges, Africa and the World
BY FATIMA HAJAIG

Interview with Wilma Newhoudt-Druchen

Gendered implications of climate change
BY RITA ALITA NDZANGA

Produced by the ANC Media and Communications Department

CONTACT
MOLOTO MOTHAPO
HEAD OF MEDIA & COMMUNICATIONS UNIT
momothapo@parliament.gov.za
MOEGSIEN ISMAIL
PUBLICATIONS OFFICER
mismail@parliament.gov.za

Special thanks to the ANC Women’s Caucus


Towards total eradication of gender discrimination

Sindiswa Patricia Rwexana

In 10 February 2007, we laid Mama Adelaide Tambo to rest. As the ANC Women’s League and the nation, we paid tribute to her commitment to the ANC. She was a towering figure of our struggle. We will miss her positive contribution towards the upliftment and the empowerment of women in rural areas.

Once again, we congratulate the Foreign Minister of Tanzania, Asha-Rose Migiro, on her election to the post of United Nation’s Deputy Secretary-General. As South African women we pledge to offer our full support.

I wish to allude to the words of the late Comrade Samora Machel, when he said:

“The emancipation of women is not an act of charity; the result of a humanitarian or compassionate attitude; the liberation of women is a fundamental necessity for the revolution; the guarantee of its continuity and the precondition for its victory. The main objective of the revolution is to destroy the system of exploitation and build a new society which releases the potentialities of human beings. This is the context within which women’s emancipation arises.”

Gender mainstreaming is defined as a means of addressing gender imbalances that existed within our society. It therefore seeks to insert gender into a decision-making process, which is very critical to good governance.

During the last decade the ANC-led government has developed, enacted and implemented a comprehensive legislative framework that gives effect to the rights of women to be free from gender-based violence.

The national gender machinery, contributes to the direct promotion of women equality. It has been functioning hand in hand with the Commission on Gender Equality which is one of the constitutional institutions to strengthen constitutional democracy.

Gender mainstreaming in the work of Parliament has been conducted in various ways. Departmental monitoring is required to supervise the implementation of gender policies so that we are able to identify the progress made and the obstacles that have been encountered.

The Joint Monitoring Committee on the Improvement of Quality of Life and Status of Women was primarily established to monitor government’s implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women and the Beijing Platform for Action. Its functions relate to formulating specific legislation on gender issues and legislation that is gender sensitive.

The multiparty women’s caucus consists of all women members of the National Assembly and permanent women delegates in the National Council of Provinces. It functions as an advisory and consultative body. Its functions include engaging with civil society. At this stage it has been referred by the joint rules committee to the review of rules committee for finalisation.

Awareness of gender equality became one of the crucial areas for the Commission on Gender Equality. This commission is trying to make education awareness to promote gender equality through the use of radio stations which broadcast in all the indigenous languages.

It gives me pride and joy to say that our Constitution is among the leading best globally for its recognition for equality clause which leads to the implementation of the promotion of the Equality Act. This legislation seeks to eliminate gender discrimination.

Section 39 of our Constitution allows us to apply and make use of international instruments. These foreign instruments create an obligation on the state to take an action to bring domestic policy and practices in line with relevant international standards. We are collaborating with other international human rights instruments that constitute the international legal framework aimed at eliminating gender discrimination and advance the status of women globally.

The African Charter renders any custom, tradition, culture or religious practices that are inconsistent with the rights, duties and obligations contained in its charter, null and void. It further compels state parties to apply all appropriate measures to abolish customs and practices that are harmful to the welfare, dignity, normal growth and the development of women and the girl-child.

We would like to congratulate the trauma centre in Cape Town who give counselling to the young girls that were kidnapped for a long time by a serial killer in Caledon. Further, we call on government, civil society, NGOs and the business sector to stand together and fight gender violence against women and the girl- child.

We have collaborated with the International Protection for Women and Girls Against Gender-based Violence, which is a comprehensive body of international law which sets the norms and standards that hold governments accountable for allowing patterns of violence against women and obliges them to prevent violations where possible.

In 2003 the African Union Assembly held its second ordinary session in Maputo, Mozambique, where it adopted the protocol to the African Charter on human and people’s rights on the rights of women in Africa. This Protocol recognises that despite the African Charter on human and people’s rights and the other international instruments, women in Africa still continue to be victims of discrimination and harmful practices.

This resulted in the adoption of the optional protocol which contains provisions such as, elimination of discrimination against women by state parties through appropriate legislative, institutional and other measures, the right to participate in political life and decision making.

Our Parliament adopted the optional protocol on 17 November 2004.

The ANC constitution provides that one third of the representation should be women. I am proud to say that today we have gone beyond that. Relevant structures such as Chapter Nine institutions and policies have been put in place to ensure that gender discrimination is eliminated, women are empowered, their voices are heard and they do participate equally with men in decision-making. Quoting from one of our great leaders, the late O R Tambo, when he delivered a speech in Luanda on 14 September 1981:

“We need to move from a revolutionary declaration to revolutionary practice. We invite the ANC’s women’s section and the black women of South Africa, more oppressed and more exploited than any section of the population, to take up this challenge and assume their proper role outside the kitchen among the fighting ranks of our movement. The women’s section is not an end in itself. It is a weapon of struggle to be correctly used against all forms and levels of oppression and inequality in the interest of a victorious struggle of our people.” We express our people’s solidarity with the women of Somalia and Darfur. We stand firmly with our comrades that are fighting for socio and political freedom. Our conviction in the certainty and their victory is unshakeable.

Malibongwe igama lamakhosikazi.


Interview with Hon. President Gertrude Mongella

PRESIDENT MONGELLA SPOKE TO MALIBONGWE ON THE CHALLENGES FACING THE PAN AFRICAN PARLIAMENT, THE STRUGGLES OF AFRICAN WOMEN AND THE FUTURE OF PAP.

You are, among others, a veteran women’s rights activist, an academic, a politician, and an internationalist. Which amongst these determined President Mongella to be where she is today?

It is difficult to separate the elements or the different carrier aspects that determined President Mongella to be where she is today. President Gertrude Mongella is a package: a wife, a mother, grandmother, politician, academic and internationalist.

All women are like President Gertrude Mongella and that is why most women unlike men are multi skilled. Only women can cook whilst writing a research paper, supervise the children’s homework whilst listening to a neighbor’s problem. I believe that the key factor for my success is the motherly side.

My motherly instincts, the attributes of care and nurturing are what I carry when I am undertaking my work as a politician, an academic and an internationalist and as President of the Pan African Parliament.

As the President of the Pan African Parliament, what do you think PAP signifies and what do you think it should do to achieve the African agenda?

(On what PAP signifies) The PAP is one of the institutions that distinguish the AU from its predecessor, the OAU. More importantly from a historical perspective, it is the first time in the life of Africa and African peoples that such an inclusive representative regional deliberative, legislative and oversight institution has been established and is operational. Constitutionally, PAP is one of the organs of the AU. The treaty establishing the AU, the Constitutive Act of the African Union (CA-AU), provides for the establishment of the PAP by protocol – Article 5 (1) (c) read with Article 17.

PAP signifies a commitment by Africa to good governance. The Constitutive Act of the AU and the Protocol relating to the establishment of the PAP both state that in addition to fostering unity, cohesion and solidarity, the PAP will ensure full participation of African peoples in the development and economic integration of the continent. The formation of the PAP thus depicts a move away from making continental initiatives purely the business of governments to include ordinary Africans in the processes aimed at integrating them. According to the Protocol establishing the PAP, each national Parliament will send five parliamentarians as representatives to the PAP. The Protocol further states that the representation of each member state must reflect diversity of political opinion in each national Parliament and one of the representatives must be a woman. It would seem that what is emerging on the continent is indeed a process of creating a pluralistic and inclusive continental polity. It is a realization that the citizens of Africa are an essential ingredient of the democratization process in Africa.

Article 3 of the Constitutive Act of the African Union states: The Objectives of the Union shall be to promote and defend African common positions on issues of interest to the continent and its peoples.

Article 17 of the Constitutive Act states: In order to ensure the full participation of African peoples in the development and economic integration of the continent, a Pan African Parliament shall be established.

The Preamble to the Protocol to the Treaty establishing the African Economic Community relating to the PAP states: Further noting that the establishment of the PAP is informed by a vision to provide a common platform for African peoples and their grassroots organizations to be more involved in discussions and decision making on the problems and challenges facing the continent.

Article 2 of the Protocol establishing the PAP states: The Pan African Parliament shall represent all the peoples of Africa Article 4 of the Protocol states: The objectives of the PAP shall be to: familiarize the peoples of Africa with the objectives and policies aimed at integrating the African Continent within the framework of the establishment of the African Union.Rule 35(1) of the Rules of Procedure of PAP states: The proceedings of the Pan African Parliament shall be open to the public, unless otherwise directed by the Bureau.

(On what PAP can do to achieve the African agenda) Currently the PAP only has consultative and advisory powers.As far as the legislative or law-making role is concerned, this is what is envisaged for the PAP in the near future. Presently, PAP operates on an “interim” basis (Article 4(1) of the Protocol). Article 2 (3) of the Protocol provides that “The ultimate aim of the Pan-African Parliament shall be to evolve into an institution with full legislative powers, whose members are elected by universal adult suffrage”. This is restated in Article 11 of the Protocol. The Protocol however indicates that the process towards having a legislative or law-making competence shall be evolutionary. It states that “until such time as the Member States decide otherwise by amendment to this Protocol: (i) The Pan-African Parliament shall have consultative and advisory powers only; and (ii) The Members of the Pan-African Parliament shall be appointed as provided for in Article 4 of this Protocol.”

Article 4 allows each State Member to be represented by 5 members chosen from among members of the national legislatures, at least one of whom must be a woman; it further requires that there be diversity of political opinions among those representatives. This latter requirement implies representation from different political parties or formations in jurisdictions with multiparty political systems.

The consultative and advisory powers of the PAP have generated quite some debate within the PAP itself and outside. It is my view that such powers may be subsumed under the supervisory and oversight role and the role of being a forum for debate of policy.

Article 11 of the Protocol states clearly that “during the first term of its existence” – the interim period – the PAP “shall exercise advisory and consultative powers”, including:

  1. Examine, discuss or express an opinion on any matter, either on its own initiative or at the request of the Assembly or other policy organs and make any recommendations it may deem fit relating to, inter alia, matters pertaining to respect of human rights, the consolidation of democratic institutions and the culture of democracy, as well as the promotion of good governance and the rule of law.
  2. Discuss its budget and the budget of the Community and make recommendations thereon prior to its approval by the Assembly.
  3. Work towards the harmonization of co-ordination of the laws of member States.
  4. Make recommendations aimed at contributing to the attainment of the objectives of the OAU/AEC and draw attention to the challenges facing the integration process in Africa as well as the strategies for dealing with them.
  5. Request officials of the OAU/AEC to attend its sessions, produce documents or assist in the discharge of its duties.
  6. Promote the programmes and objectives of the OAU/AEC, in the constituencies of the Member States.
  7. Promote the coordination and harmonization of policies, measures, programmes and activities of the Regional Economic Communities and the parliamentary fora of Africa.
  8. Adopt its Rules of Procedure, elect its own President and propose to the Council and the Assembly the size and nature of the support staff of the Pan-African Parliament.
  9. Perform such other functions as it deems appropriate to achieve the objectives set out in Article 3 of this Protocol.

The Rules of Procedure that PAP adopted in September 2004, in particular Rule 5 (a), (c) and (d), clearly express the supervisory and oversight role of PAP in relation to other organs and programmes of the AU. However, having supervisory and oversight role should not be understood to mean that the PAP stands hierarchically above the other organs of the AU. Every organ of the AU is a treaty structure with clear treaty-based distinct competence of its own.

The supervisory and oversight role and the role of being a forum for debate of policy is reinforced by the formal links made with the AU’s Peace and Security Council in Article 18 of the Protocol Relating to the Establishment of the Peace and Security Council of the African Union. Under the Article, PAP has the power to request reports from the Peace and Security Council and the Chairperson of the Commission is under an obligation to present annual reports on the state of peace and security on the continent before PAP. The manner in which the Protocol on the Peace and Security Council deals with PAP and other organs of the AU should be made standard for all the other organs of the AU. It facilitates cooperation, harmonisation and synergy within the AU.

Where do you wish to see PAP in the next ten years in relation to its role in Africa? Article 2 (3) of the Protocol provides that “The ultimate aim of the Pan-African Parliament shall be to evolve into an institution with full legislative powers, whose members are elected by universal adult suffrage”.

This is restated in Article 11 of the Protocol. I see the PAP playing a very important role in oversight on issues of AID effectiveness in Africa, oversight on the achievement of Millennium Development Goals, oversight on governance matters. The APRM reports are already being tabled in the PAP. What we now need to do is to agree on a framework to follow up on the issues raised in the reports. I see the PAP playing an oversight role on the activities of the AU organs and programs such as NEPAD. Already PAP has allocated time within its plenary to debate NEPAD progress reports. I see more citizens especially women participating in governance processes at both national and regional levels.

One of the objectives of PAP is to strengthen continental solidarity and build a sense of common destiny among Africans. Do you think that women in Africa are united in advancing common struggle against deep shared challenges they face? In Africa for a long time women have been excluded from processes of governance and economic development- a phenomena often referred to as paradigm of exclusion. There have not been any platforms to unite women. It is however important to point out that women should not be treated as a homogenous group.

In Africa there exists now excellent political will to address gender concerns. Many African states have put in place machinery to address the gender deficits in different sectors. Many Governments have established Ministries of gender. In some places these are called Ministries of women affairs and youth and disabled persons. However, these sectoral gender policies are still lacking in content. It’s not about women in Africa uniting to change the status quo. Yes its true women need to unite, but women are still excluded from the decision making machinery of political parties, of local government structures, cabinets.

This prevents them from entering the mainstream of politics.

They only participate at election time. The gatekeepers are still barring women from participating. As a result women are excluded in the structures that should enable them to participate effectively in governance processes. Most governments have used women in the development approach and are thus preoccupied with mere inclusion of women within existing structures, rather than questioning the underlying issues of gender inequality and subordination, access to resources, control and benefit. Most of our national budgets do not mainstream gender.

The struggle for the liberation of women is far from over, what role should African women play to push forward the struggle for their total emancipation?

The struggle for total emancipation, equality and equity still goes on as de facto women remain subordinated and oppressed. Their contribution to socio- economic development is still ignored in national statistics and budgetary processes. Many women’s NGOs and other NGOs working in the sector have striven to redress the situation, but with limited success. It is true women need to emancipate themselves. A lot of work needs to be done in terms of capacity building among women themselves by people and institutions dealing with these issues. It is important that gender–disaggregated data is collected to make women and their contribution to development. Competent individuals who can articulate gender issues in strategic positions are important for development. It is also important that women shed off the ‘Queen Bee Syndrome”. Most women in positions of power do not empower or fight for other women to take up positions of responsibilities. It is important for women to work together.

What is the role of the PAP Committee on Gender, Family, Youth and People Living with Disability?

The Terms of Reference of the Gender Committee are found in the Rules of Procedure of PAP. The Committee’s role is to deliberate on the policies, issues pertaining to gender, family, youth and people living with disability. It collects and analyses data on the aforementioned themes and makes presentations to the Plenary. It collects evidence from different parts of Africa. Currently, they are working with NGOs in this area to list all the AU and UN instruments which were ratified by member countries so that they can assess the extent to which these were domesticated and also assess the programmes on the ground to address issues pertaining to gender inequity, youth and people living with disability.

The meeting of the PAP/RPF (Regional Parliamentary Forum) in March recommended among others that PAP exercise oversight role on the implementation of gender equality policy of the AU. How is PAP planning to do this?

The Committee on Gender will produce guidelines on how to exercise the oversight role in the implementation of gender equality policy of the AU. The Committee will then present its findings to the PAP plenary for adoption. The framework will be communicated to the Member Parliaments for implementation and monitoring.

What role is PAP playing in ensuring the harmonization of laws and policies of African countries to foster common agenda in the social, economic and political empower-met of African women?

In addition to this PAP is organizing regional workshops with the RECs and RAS in Africa to agree on a framework to undertake the harmonization of laws and policies of African countries. The PAP is working with universities, NGOs in this sector and the RECs and RAs. To date two regional workshops have been held with the SADC- PF, and the East African Legislative Assembly- EALA. The outputs of the regional workshops will be tabled in the PAP plenary for adoption. The Committee on Rules, Privileges and Discipline is also working on this matter.

In your experience, how far do you think African institutions and states have progressed in the empowerment of women and in the achievement of gender equality?

While the fact of women’s disadvantage is a constant throughout Africa and the world at large, the extent of the empowerment levels varies. Gender distinctions are not a fact of nature; they are reproduced socially, politically, economically and institutionally; they are reproduced at various levels, the family,the community, national and international levels. Whilst it is easy for Governments to legislate women participation in public spaces, it is very difficult for governments to get into domestic spaces. As mentioned earlier on, in Africa there exists now excellent political will to address gender concerns. Different African Institutions have shown commitment to the empowerment of women. The SADC-PF has been very active in empowering its member states to mainstream gender and to comply with OAU and UN gender policies. The AU requires now a 50/50 ratio for men and women. Many African governments are in the process of reviewing their sectoral policies to make them gender sensitive. The legal framework in many African states is conducive to the protection and promotion of women’s rights. This needs to be bolstered with identifying disadvantage and taking steps to ensure that the inequalities caused by generations of exclusion are addressed. Any policy to address gender equality needs to take into account that women are not a homogenous group.

Where do you wish to see the women of Africa in the next 20 years?

The last few years have seen the establishment of the necessary structures to empower women. As women we have never been better placed to work towards achieving our mission than today. Spaces though limited have been created to promote women inclusion in economic and political spaces. Time therefore has come for us as women to be proactive in claiming the spaces and begin to participate not because we are women but because of our capabilities.

Women themselves need to take the struggle to a higher level to achieve the goals of equity and parity. It requires from us a commitment, that even our grassroots women should be brought into the mainstream of development and political processes. My wish is to see all the women in Africa pulling together towards the common goal of equity and parity.


Deepening Gender equality

Storey Masafele Rosalia Morutoa

International Women’s Day is an annual day for recognition of and struggle for women’s economic, social and political rights, opportunities for awakening self-consciousness among women workers, and for the unity of the working class.

Women’s Day emerged out of the simultaneously growing workers’ and women’s rights movements during the rapidly industrialising period of the early 20th century. In United States in 1908, the Socialist Party’s newly formed Woman’s National Committee, responded by calling for the Party to designate a day each year to campaign for women’s suffrage.

International Women’s Day is an important occasion for women all over the world. It is not only an occasion for women from all continents to celebrate our triumphs and achievements, but to take stock of what still needs to be done.

In South Africa we also have a lot to celebrate. During the brutal years of apartheid women were at the forefront of the battles against that dreaded system of systematic oppression.

Our history is filled with the stories of the heroic deeds carried out by patriotic South African women who were not prepared to heed to the yoke of apartheid.

Women in urban and rural areas, black and white, rich and poor, the religious and non-religious, stood together side by side, to fight and emphatically defeat apartheid.

The struggle for women’s emancipation in South Africa is as old as the struggle itself. In the first instance, it is worth noting that women played a central role in production (and reproduction) during the pre-colonial era.

As a response to increased attempts of apartheid government to enforce a systematic control of movement through pass laws, women stood up against Prime Minister Strydom and organized a massive anti-pass march to the Union Buildings in Pretoria on 9 August 1956.

Two years before the historic women’s march, the first women’s charter was adopted at the founding conference of the Federation of South African Women in the same year that Bantu education minister Hendrik Verwoerd enforced a separate and unequal education system for African children.

Way before the advent of feminism in the West in the 60s and 70s, South African women started a movement that situated women’s emancipation within the context of a broader liberation struggle. At its core, the Women’s Charter denounced and challenged a struggle for liberation that benefitted only one section of the society.

Since 1994 South African women have achieved many milestones.

These include one among the highest proportions of women parliamentary representativity in the continent, a constitution that guarantees the right of women to dignity, protection and access to opportunities. Many women have made their mark in the political and business arena. We have a woman deputy president, two women speakers of parliament and a record 12 women Ministers in our National Cabinet.

South Africa performed very well in respect of the indicators mentioned in the gender and Millennium and Development Goals (MDG), to which our government has subscribed.

THE THIRD MDG PRESCRIBED INDICATORS ARE:
Indicator 9: Ratio of girl to boys in primary, secondary and tertiary education
Indicator 10: Ratio of literate females to males of 15-24 years old
Indicator 11: Share of women in wage employment in the non-agricultural sector
Indicator 12: Proportion of seats held by women in national parliament

Despite the fact that we have performed very well on the MGD’s specified indicators, I want to point to a few achievements as well as areas that still need attention.

WOMEN AND POVERTY

More than 1 billion people in the world today, the great majority of who are women, live in unacceptable conditions of poverty, mostly in the developing countries. Poverty has various causes, including structural ones.

Poverty is a complex, multidimensional problem, with origins in both the national and international domains.

The globalisation of the world’s economy and the deepening interdependence among nations present challenges and opportunities for sustained economic growth and development, as well as risks and uncertainties for the future of the world economy.

The gender disparities in economic power sharing are also an important contributing factor to the poverty of women.

Migration and consequent changes in family structures have placed additional burdens on women, especially those who provide for several dependants.

Macroeconomic policies need rethinking and reformulation to address such trends. These policies focus almost exclusively on the formal sector. They also tend to impede the initiatives of women and fail to consider the differential impact on women and men.

While poverty affects households as a whole, because of the gender division of labour and responsibilities for household welfare, women bear a disproportionate burden, attempting to manage household consumption and production under conditions of increasing scarcity. Poverty is particularly acute for women living in rural households.

Women’s poverty is directly related to the absence of economic opportunities and autonomy, lack of access to economic resources, including credit, land ownership and inheritance, lack of access to education and support services and their minimal participation in the decision-making process.

Poverty can also force women into situations in which they are vulnerable to sexual exploitation.

GENDER MAINSTREAMING

It is a globally accepted strategy for promoting gender equality. Mainstreaming is not an end in itself but a strategy, an approach, a means to achieve the goal of gender equality.

Mainstreaming involves ensuring that gender perspectives and attention to the goal of gender equality are central to all activities - policy development, research, advocacy/ dialogue, legislation, resource allocation, and planning, implementation and monitoring of programmes and projects.

In the next five years, as it embarks on its R84bn infrastructure programme, power utility Eskom has to appoint two new staff every working day - and it is adamant that one of them will be a black woman.The need to recruit 5 000 skilled employees will impose unique challenges even for Eskom, widely acknowledged as SA’s most empowered company. Having launched an affirmative action and employment equity drive in the early 1990s - well before it became a moral and regulatory imperative - Eskom is in a better position than most to meet the skills crunch head-on, while retaining its empowerment momentum.

State-owned Enterprises (SOEs) have been tasked with spending more than half of the R400bn government is setting aside to improve public infrastructure over the next few years.

However, in this endeavor they have to contend with shortages in key skill categories, particularly engineering, technical and project management skills.

The sharp decline in technical and artisan skills in SA over the past decade is hurting the private sector as well, but the damage is more severe at SOEs, where more aggressive employment equity policies have led to an exodus of skilled and experienced white staff.

Results of the 2006 South African Women in Corporate Leadership census reveal that, while the number of women in top leadership positions is growing, there are signs that the momentum is slowing down on some fronts.

Women in South Africa are moving from all dimensions, we have recently launched the Progressive Women’s Movement of South Africa.

This empowers women to dialogue more on issues pertaining to the improvement of their lives. The other convenient platform for women to dialogue on gender mainstreaming issues is the South African Women in Dialogue (SAWID).

From the 28th to the 30th of January 2006, women of South Africa, representing mainly NGO’s from all nine provinces, gathered to participate as members of civil society in the African Peer Review Mechanism, a system created by the African Union to encourage African Countries to improve their governance, and to provide a mechanism for monitoring the political and developmental issues on the African continent.

WOMEN PRESENTED THE FOLLOWING RECOMMENDATIONS;

  1. They identified an urgent need to build the leadership capacity of women.
  2. To harmonise traditional and informal systems of governance.
  3. To establish a national coordination, monitoring and evaluation mechanism.
  4. To strengthen the relationship between government and civil society.

They also urged for the protection of women’s mental, sexual and bodily integrity at home, work and in public places.

The convenors had been inspired by the outcomes of a Peace and Reconciliation Dialogue with women from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

During three national conferences, South African women, united in their diversity, came together to agree on a Plan of Action for the development of their communities and to find ways to engage with their sisters in South Africa and on the continent on similar issues. In addition to the Peace Dialogue with women from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a further Peace Dialogue took place with women from Burundi.

TRAFFICKING OF WOMEN

The trafficking of women and girls has emerged as a serious form of violence against women and girl children in recent years. Populations vulnerable to trafficking are growing in Africa, which increases the supply of potential victims for traffickers and the potential deleterious effects on all segments of African society. The victims may be economic migrants, political asylum seekers, those rendered homeless or jobless after natural disasters or civil conflict, or individuals looking for a better way of life.

Civil conflict, political instability, famine, HIV/AIDS and economic stagnation mean the number of individuals; particularly women and girl children, in desperate situations are growing.

Civil conflicts and HIV/AIDS are dramatically increasing the number of orphans and child-headed households in Africa. In eastern and southern Africa, the dramatic rise in households headed by children may create fertile ground for traffickers.

In 2000, Nations of the world, realising that the majority of the people on our planet are poor and yet there exist in the same planet, enough resources to ensure that no child goes hungry, goes without access to health care, to education and to shelter amongst other things, they adopted the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

SIXTEEN DAYS OF ACTIVISM

Gender equality and women’s rights have been championed at the highest level since the advent of democracy in 1994.

Several progressive steps have been taken to end gender violence.

These include: comprehensive legislation; specialised services; institutional mechanisms; and public awareness initiatives.

Each year the Sixteen Days of Activism presents an opportunity to heighten awareness; renew commitments to ending all forms of violence and cement partnerships between civil society, government, the private sector and development partners.

During the 2004 Campaign, President Thabo Mbeki reiterated that the Campaign should be extended to include a programme of 365 days of action against gender-based violence. The 16 Days of Activism Campaign will have strong linkages with the 365 Days of Action initiative.

During the 365 Days of Action to End Gender Violence, South Africans from all walks of life gathered in a conference from 3rd to 5th May, to sign a declaration and develop a framework towards a national action plan to end gender and child directed violence. This conference emanated from an identified national need to make the 16 Days of Activism Campaign a yearlong initiative and was hosted under the theme of “365 Days of Action to End Gender Violence”.

We find it ludicrous to have some males behave like the policemen in Mpumalanga who decided to have a female prisoner detained in a male cell, as a result this woman was gang raped in the process.

We don’t condone the fact that the woman was found to have exceeded the limit of alcohol consumption, but this does not justify the fact that SAPS is one of the critical stakeholders that play a major role in the implementation of laws that are passed by Parliament to promote the rights of women and in this case, one of its officials who should be enforcing these laws violated this woman’s rights.

We urge all stakeholders who are supposed to implement laws that are meant to emancipate women to walk the talk.


Rural women, poverty and economic development

Makwena Lydia Ngwenya

Hunger and poverty are enemies of human dignity; and women are the primary victims of hunger and poverty. Yet women are also crucial partners in finding sustainable solutions to these twin scourges. Without women, the target we all set in 1996 to halve the number of the hungry in the world by 2015 will not only remain elusive; it will become impossible to attain. Women and girls constitute three-fifths of the world’s poor. Their poverty level is worse than that of men as clear gender disparities in education, employment opportunities and decision making power exist.

Many women in Africa also bear the overwhelming burden of providing food for the family, in addition to being the hewers of wood and fetchers of water. Statistics show that in sub-Saharan Africa, women food farmers produce 80% of the food, do 90% of the work to process the food, 80% of the work to transport and store the food, 60% of the work to market the food and provide 90% of the water, wood and fuel. These they do using rudimentary hand-held tools and without appropriate modern technology. Indeed, women meet the basic survival needs of the continent, despite the fact that they own only 1% of the land, receive less then 7% of farm extension services, receive less than 10% of the credit given to small-scale farmers.

Provision of household water needs is a major problem facing the African rural women. Only 47% of urban women in Africa have access to safe drinking water. Most of those in the rural areas have to trek long distances from their homes in search of water, no matter the quality.

This remains a challenge for African Governments and International Funding Agencies.

A large number of women are mainly engaged in subsistence agriculture as well as in micro and small-scale enterprises (MSE). In most of the developing countries, particularly in Africa, women constitute 70-80 per cent of the total agricultural labour force and they account for over 80 per cent of food production. It is not surprising therefore to find many women engaged in food processing, weaving, personal services, beverage preparation, and selling of snack foods.

In the MSE sector worldwide, women make up one-quarter to onethird of the total business population and in manufacturing they constitute one-third of the global labour force.

In addition to their economic and income-generating activities, women assume multi-faceted roles in society, that is, as breadwinner of a family, unpaid family workers, service providers in the communities and mother/care-taker of the family.

INTERNATIONAL OBLIGATIONS

To strengthen the partnerships with rural women, one of the vital challenges will be to support their continued empowerment. This is viewed as a necessary catalyst to ensure that they can fulfil their potential and participate on an equal footing with men in the formulation and implementation of agriculture and rural development policies and programmes. Several instruments for bringing about this change are already available.

In 1979, the international community reached a milestone with the adoption of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), which contains important legally binding provisions in support of women in agriculture.

The 1996 World Food Summit Declaration and Plan of Action also include important commitments for the advancement of rural women, and for gender equality and equity in the agricultural and rural development sector. FAO has expressed these commitments in its Gender and Development Plan of Action (2002-2007), which was unanimously endorsed by the FAO Conference, in November last year. One of the key objectives and priority areas for action in the Plan is to eliminate persisting gender inequalities in access to natural resources. This has also been a key demand of the major stakeholder groups involved in the preparations for the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD), in Johannesburg in 2002.

SOUTH AFRICA

In South Africa, land is an important source of capital used in economic activity and a factor of production. During the apartheid years, around four million people were removed and displaced from the land they were occupying. A small percentage of African people gained access to land through freehold title prior to the introduction of the land laws in 1913 and 1936.Where land ownership title still exists, women are still disadvantaged. Most women in these areas are married under African customary law. Women are not allowed to inherit. Unless there is a will that says otherwise, the freehold land passed from father to son on the husband’s death. Property rights have been entrenched in the Constitution and there is much concern among rural people as to what restitution there will be for land they lost.

Since 1994 an opportunity has presented itself to all the citizens of South Africa, particularly the previously disadvantaged including rural women. That opportunity is the enabling legal and policy framework of land reform. However, rural women have not been able to take advantage of this opportunity and use it for improving their quality of life. In my view, the main obstacle has been low level of or non-existent organisation of the rural poor. It is only the voices and the demands of organised groups and communities that are more likely to be heard and met.

Experience by the Department of Land Affairs has shown that in the implementation of the land reform programme, on one hand, shows that as a result of poor or non-existent organisation of women most of the landholding entities such as Community Property Associations (CPAs) and Trusts established by land reform beneficiaries are dominated by or exclusively for men.

Although the Department has encouraged participation of women in land reform projects, there has been no concerted effort to mainstream women issues in land reform projects. Recognising this weakness in strategies for implementation of the land reform programme, the department has resolved to develop strategies for gender (women issues) mainstreaming in land reform.

These are some of the strategies that the Department must explore:

  • Representation of women, particularly rural women, at all levels in decision-making positions in rural development public institutions.
  • Giving women a voice at village level and village development structures.
  • Establishment of women-only land reform projects/landholding entities.
  • Communication and information sessions on the land reform programme targeting rural women.Essentially, these strategies will contribute to enabling rural women to develop tools that they need to bring about organisational transformation in rural development structures, particularly those dealing with issues of access to land and land tenure rights, thus maximising their participation in organisations that are involved in rural development policy design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation.

Rural women must stand up and fight for themselves for their socio-economic rights!! No one, but themselves will free them from the shackles of poverty, victimisation and abuse.

CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS

A poverty-reducing growth strategy should aim at the creation of a complex and diversified economic structure and should include the development of non-farm economic activities and the facilitation of the transition of informal activities to the formal growth sector.

A rural development programme should combine infrastructure development, education and health services, investment in agriculture, and the promotion of rural non-farm activities, in which women and rural population can engage.

To respond to the needs of women to materialise their economic potential and thereby to improve their standard of living, it is necessary to design programmes by applying a mainstreaming strategy.

This requires devising measures to integrate women as decision-makers, participants and beneficiaries in all relevant development activities, irrespective of the sector or type of activity. It is also necessary to address the totality of problems women face as entrepreneurs, due to the wide spectrum of elements affecting the equitable participation of women in development.

A plan or strategy must be designed and implemented in close collaboration with various development partners in different specialised areas, notably: education, health, human rights as well as environment and energy.

There is a need therefore, even in South Africa to:

  • Strengthen the public administration to make the regulatory and administrative environment more conducive for rural and women entrepreneurs.
  • To enhance human resource development for increased competitive entrepreneurship, technology absorbing capacities and women’s control over asset management.
  • To develop the policy advocacy and the collective selfhelp capacities of rural and women entrepreneurs.

Through macroeconomic policy, government can create an environment that facilitates economic growth and the reduction of poverty and inequality.

Economic growth is crucial for the reduction of poverty and can contribute to the reduction of inequality, while widespread poverty and significant inequality can undermine economic growth.

Consequently, policies aimed at achieving higher economic growth rates, and those policies aimed at reducing poverty and inequality, can reinforce each other.


The Gender Commission and Gender Mainstreaming

Pamela Tshwete

The Commission on Gender Equality (CGE) is one of our constitutional Institutions that were established under Chapter Nine of the Constitution to maintain and promote Democracy through Gender Equality. One of the most important tasks of our Democratic Government was to repeal old laws and policies that discriminated against women. These laws and policies give women rights that they were previously denied of.

In South Africa more than half the population is female, only approximately one third of our representatives are women. We are still undergoing a process of gender transformation within our country and globally. Women are still under-represented in other spheres of government, especially in significant positions of power. It is the duty of the Parliament, Government and Civil Service, to acknowledge the role of women and ensure that their voices are heard in a democratic South Africa.

The commission on gender equality’s mandate, among others, is to monitor and evaluate policies and practices of state organs, state agencies, public bodies and the private sector in order to promote gender equality and the right of women.

CGE has a much broader task to practically encourage both men and women to speak out and demand a stop to the violence they experience daily. While much has been said about the impracticality of the CGE. Despite the considerable progress it has made regarding the legal status of women, and above-mentioned successes, indeed South African women still do not enjoy equal rights in practice.

The “alpha male mindset” is still dominant in cultural diverse South Africans. It is further handicapped by other societal animals such as race, class, disability, religion, geographic location and cowboys do not cry myth, this is what further complicates the transition of Gender Equality.

Our practical participation should be;

  • To encourage the CGE on their mandate and deepen the “how to” discussions on gender issues, through studies and asserted research. So that we find a stop to these depraved brutal killings of women folk and the hideous attacks on girl and boy children.
  • Members of Parliament can be utilized as a link between the CGE and the Constituencies, where the MP’s in both the National Assembly and the NCOP can be empowered in areas of Gender Equality so they can take the influence down to their constituencies. For instance to participate in implementing legislative measures that keep out of our beloved country the damaging exposure of media materials that stimulate inappropriate sexual awareness.
  • We have to deepen our participation and invite the CGE to encourage a survivor friendly environment in law facilities, in communities and in families. For example sexual violated survivors should be interviewed and not be interrogated.
  • We as the ANC welcomes the idea that the CGE can be invited to workshop our Committees so they may encourage awareness in decreasing the “silent father syndrome” and that both parents be active participants in child rearing.

Since 1994 we have been honoured with a Constitution that respects and promotes for a non sexist environment, for democracy and equality. The battle of addressing Gender Imbalances became manageable through the role played by our Chapter Nine Institutions.

“As South Africans we can never say we have achieved democracy as it is not enough without the equal equality for both men and women”.

“Freedom can never be achieved fully unless women have been emancipated from all forms of gender oppression”


Gender challenges, Africa and the World

Fatima Hajaig

The former Secretary-General of the United Nations once noted that: “African women had always been a force for peace and development. Africa was now showing an economic growth and a renewed sense of hope and determination as well as an increased respect for Human Rights. However, violence and conflicts were still rampant and women were more affected by both”.

He further emphasised that at international level, global conferences had provided a new purpose to the course of women. The countries that had ratified conventions with reservation were doing so against the tide of history. He emphasised women’s rights as Human Rights, which should include qualitative education, health care, economic rights, freedom from violence and participation and decision-making. Without recognition of women’s rights as Human Rights and as a cross-cutting issue, the development process would falter. The former UN Secretary-General urged the African countries to respect and protect women’s rights. Gender equality was a goal in itself and a precondition for poverty eradication, sustainable development and good governance.

After the Cairo and Beijing Conferences a number of UN agencies began to engage women in a more constructive manner. In situations of armed conflict, women were doubly exposed. They were targeted at home and in camps due to the unequal power relations.

With regard to the use of rape – a military strategy - the UN Refugee Commission had adopted three strategies namely, prevention, protection and solution of the problem. Refugee women were like any other women but had particular immediate needs. The UNHR planned to continue to support post-conflict initiatives for returnees and assist in the reconstruction and reconciliation process.

UNICEF noted that true gender partnership needed to take into account the feminisation of poverty and that women needed spacefor participation in the economy. Women needed to be aware of globalisation and that process should also be accountable to communities and not only to capital markets. In this respect, women should participate in the development of trade policies and have a voice in macro-policy development. The use of ITC should be encouraged.

UNICEF also addressed issues of violence against women. It said that the empowerment of girls was rooted in principle enshrined in the convention on the rights of the child and CEDAW; not forgetting the Vienna Convention of 1993. Girls’ education was at the heart of the matter.

There were 140 ongoing education projects in Africa sponsored by UNESCO, the World Bank and a UN system-wide special initiative in 15 countries, particularly in the Horn of Africa, in the Sahel, Kenya and Uganda.

The UNDP informed that among the challenges that constrain women’s participation in development were lack of resources to enhance women’s productivity and the exclusion of women from economic management and decision-making. UNDP programmes will include mainstreaming gender and capacity building training. These human development reports will be given to respective governments where they will have an opportunity to analyse the situation of women. The reports can give women a platform on which they can lobby for change.

UNESCO said that peace-building is much cheaper than peace-keeping.

UNESCO had a project in place to develop education for women on traditional peace-keeping strategies. In collaboration with the UNDP and FAWE, UNESCO is training women trainers to support peace initiatives.

Although African women have made significant progress in the two past decades, the process is not easy. Women contend with cultural factors, belief systems that often impose limitations on what a w oman can aspire to, irrespective of whatever talents and capacity she may be endowed with.

The African Union took a major step by promoting gender parity in its top decision-making positions. In 2003, five males and five women were elected as AU Commissioners. The following, Ms Gertrude Mongella was chosen to lead the African Union’s Pan African Parliament, where women make up 25% of the parliamentarians.

Madam Savane leads the APRM which oversees standards for good governance.

On 25 November 2005, at last, the protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights relating to women’s rights entered into force. The protocol beyond recognising women’s rights addresses the fundamental issues pertinent to the lives of women in Africa. The protocol, through its provisions, allows scope for addressing crucial issues such as multisided violations of rights in marriage violence; and attacks to life, physical and moral integrity to women and girls’ security.

The entry into force of the protocol provides an irreplaceable legal framework to put an end to violations of which women and children, particularly girls, are victims in periods of conflict as civilians, refugees or soldiers and to take up the challenges of peace in Africa and indispensable condition for development.

The entry into force of this protocol will enhance the credibility of the African Union’s re-equitable representation of women in the AU Commission and equitable representation of judges at the African Court of Justice and the African Court on Human and People’s Rights.

A special advisor on gender issues at the United Nations states that because the continent is diverse, the problems are complex.

Therefore, in global debates, the problems in Africa should not be made simplistic or be reduced to a single denomination - for example, girls do not only need access to education but must also be protected from violence and harmful practices.

While there is a need to continue with basic strategies to lift women out of poverty and to halt HIV and Aids, it is also important second and third generation strategies to put in place.

These include ensuring that global trade agreements, new information and communication technologies provide immediate benefits to women. Empowerment of women should not be confined to a narrow range of factors within countries but should also ensure equal participation of women in fast moving global processes.

Women throughout Asia confront systematic discrimination and abuse, often with little hope of any redress. From deeply entrenched social norms that subordinate women to pervasive and horrific acts of violence, women rights violation remains one of the most enduring and grave human-rights crises in the region. Recent decades have witnessed the proliferation of women rights groups and activism in many countries, new legal reforms, strides in education and public participation.

Despite these hard-won changes, hundreds of millions of women in Asia still struggle on a daily basis. Among the major human rights violations against women in the region are exploitation and abuse of women workers; high rates of gender-based violence; discrimination in education, health care and property rights; and barriers to women’s free movement and participation in the public sphere.

Rwanda’s Parliament leads in the participation of female representation.

It’s interesting that the five Permanent Members of the UN Security Council are not included among the top 20 countries as far as women’s representation in Parliament is concerned. China is ranked number 48, the United Kingdom number 50 and the United States of America number 69. In Afghanistan, as you know it is a very poor country, there is 27% of women in Parliament and Iraq has 25%. France holds position number 85 with only 12 % of women.

Russia is ranked number 100 with only 9% of women. Currently, there are 11 women head of states out of 193 countries.

Women represent over half the world’s population, or should I say more than half of humankind. Let us rededicate ourselves today to level the playing fields and let women their rightful place for a better home, a better country and a better world.


Women and Disability

During the apartheid regime disabled people of all races were discriminated against and neglected because of their disability and had limited or no access to fundamental socio-economic rights such as employment, education and appropriate health and welfare services. Legislations and policies were passed by government since 1994 to eliminate disability discrimination and create opportunities for addressing the needs of disabled people as a previously disadvantaged group in society.

While the laws have been effective in redressing this repressive legacy, disabled people continue to experience challenges daily in their lives. The issue of disabled women and disability in general was one of the topics discussed during the International Women’s Day in the National Assembly.

MALIBONGWE spoke to ANC Member of Parliament and disability and deaf rights activist, Wilma Newhoudt-Druchen. Newhoudt-Druchen is also a Chairperson of parliament’s Joint Monitoring Committee on Improvement of Life and Status of Children, Youth and Disabled Persons.

Wilma Newhoudt-Druchen

Interview with Wilma Newhoudt-Druchen

On main challenges that disabled women and disabled in general faces.

The challenges they are faced with currently is access to things we take for granted such as transport, information, to name a few. There is still widespread discrimination against people with disabilities, especially women with disabilities. There is a lack of awareness or understanding about the different disabilities. For example children or people with intellectual disabilities still face lots of discrimination. The Joint Monitoring Committee on Improvement of Life and Status of Children, Youth and Disabled Persons (JMC-IQLSCYD) has heard during the public hearings that some children with intellectual disabilities are classified as ‘uneducatable’. Who labeled or who decides when a child is uneducatable when all children are guaranteed the right to education? We cannot leave children with specific disabilities out.

Sign language, for example is mentioned in the constitution, it is also there in the Schools Act, but there are teachers and educators who do not want to teach deaf children via sign language, which is supposed to be used as the medium of instruction. As a result, deaf children and youth leave schools without proper education, unlike their hearing counterparts. As a result they face life-long discrimination because the education system has failed them.

Disabled women are also exploited instead of being protected.

For example they have their disability grants stolen from them by family members and other people close to them.

They are sexually abused, and when they report the cases they are laughed at because society still believes that people with disability are not sexual beings. Members of the police service and the criminal justice system must take complaints of sexual abuse or rape against people with disability seriously.

On the role of the JMC-IQLSCYD in addressing these challenges

The role of the JMC, among other things, is to work on the improvement of the quality of life and status of people with disability. We receive briefings from different departments and stakeholders, including the Office of Status of Disabled People, to gauge what they are doing for people with disability; check out what is in their budget or strategic plans for people with disability, etc. Many briefings received by the JMC demonstrate deep challenges faced by certain institutions in advancing adequately the interest of people with disability. While some were doing reasonably well, some were performing dismally in this regard and needed constant intervention of the JMC. It is sad indeed!

We need to see a strong motivation in implanting the Integrated National Disability Strategy (INDS).

JMC is also monitoring the implementation of the employment equity target of 2% for people with disability in different government departments. Not all departments have reached that target. The JMC cannot work alone in this regard. All parliamentary portfolio committees in their oversight role need to continuously bring to task their relevant department on this target.

On the sensitivity of government and the society towards the needs of disabled women

Government has good policies in place but it’s the people working in government that need to make sure that those good policies are implemented. It seems that civil servants need constant reminder from the disabled that they need to implement these policies. The private sector also need to do more.

On accommodation of the needs of disabled people by the country’s broadcasters, particularly the public broadcaster Personally I do not have full access to the public broadcaster. I am deaf. I cannot listen to the radio so I depend on television.

But television is also not fully accessible for me. If I am at home sick and I want to monitor what is happening in Parliament it is difficult to understand what is being said on the television screen. I cannot understand, for instance, what the Minister is saying and will not be able to follow the debates. Television needs to be more accessible. We acknowledge that changes have been made here and there, but it is not enough. Private and paid channels are now becoming more and more accessible as there are now more and more subtitled programs. However, the vast majority of Deaf people cannot afford paid channels. People who are blind also cannot fully access television. The Broadcasting Amendment Act needs to be fully implemented.

On the disabled and access to the transport system and buildings We still need to do more. I love using public transport because I can. My only fear is when I do not know the information being conveyed through the intercom systems. I am not comfortable asking what has been said so I just pray and hope the correct train comes.

I have seen many people in wheelchairs traveling uncomfortably by train. They need assistance of fellow a traveler to lift their wheelchair onto the train or onto the platform. This is very demoralizing.

They would prefer to be able to get on and off the train by themselves, which is very empowering. Our platforms are very difficult and also very difficult for people who are short. In the USA for example, there are round lights up the platforms which go on to warn the people that the train is coming. There are also rough textures on the platform to warn people who are blind and using walking sticks that they have almost come to the end of the platform and that they must step back.

Previously there were buses that could lower a platform for a wheelchair to get on, lift it up again and the person can wheel into the bus. Unfortunately they were discontinued due to lack of funding.

‘Dial a ride’ (disabled people transport service) is great but there are not enough buses to cover the whole of the Peninsula, for example.

Bookings have to be made two weeks in advance.

Public buildings are not very accessible, especially the courts and some police stations. More needs to be done and should be done in consultation with people with disabilities and not with people who think they know what the disabled need.

On Parliament and needs of disabled women

Only Members of Parliament are striving for the rights of disabled women. What about those people who work for Parliament? Our democratic parliament is 13 years old this year and yet a policy on disabled MPs is still in the process of drafting. Parliament must set an example for those outside to follow.

Do we have a satisfactory number of disabled staff here in Parliament? Do we have enough? Has Parliament reached the 2% target with regard to employment of disabled staff? The problem is that MPs, especially with disability, are the only people advancing this cause. That is not enough. It must be addressed by all!

On disabled people and HIV/AIDS messages

The messages need to go out more. Like I said, the challenge is media access. People with disability, like other people, need access to information about HIV/AIDS. The perception that people with disability are not sexual beings need to be eradicated. They also have sex and therefore also get exposed to HIV/AIDS. The situation that deaf people lack information on HIV/AIDS because they do not have access to television is extremely dangerous. Without information they end up making their own assumptions about how people get HIV/AIDS, which is scary.

More information in Braille is also necessary and information must reach the most remote places, such as rural areas.

On role of DPSA and society regarding HIV/AIDS and the disabled women

The Disabled People of South Africa (DPSA) is working hard in addressing issues relating to HIV/AIDS and disabled women. However, as already emphasized, they cannot work alone. They need the involvement of all interest groups in this cause. They need all government officials and staff members in Parliament and elsewhere to take seriously the needs of disabled people.

The public need to be more aware and sensitive about disabled women. It starts in the family. It is wrong for a family to be embarrassed by a disabled member and therefore hide him or her away.

Disabled persons are as human as any other person.

The public also need to be educated more on disability. I still find myself being stared at in public when I use sign language. I even get asked whether my children are deaf or hearing, and getting pitiful responses when I tell them that they are actually hearing. ‘Ag shame, how do you communicate with them?’ they sometimes react.

Deaf parents are normal and bring up their children in a normal way, whether the children talk or sign to us. A deaf friend who has three deaf children shouts with hallelujah each time her child is identified deaf. That is how it should be, rather than being disappointed.

It is wrong for hearing parents to grieve when they discover that their children are deaf. One can imagine the pain the child will suffer if it was find out about his/her parents’ initial reaction.

On role of public institutions in advancing and improving lives of disabled women

Treat us as normal as you would treat any women. Make sure physical barriers are eliminated to enable free movement of disabled people, such as having ramps, accessible toilets etc. Give us jobs that we are capable of, instead of wondering, ‘will she because of her disability be able to do that job?

Institutions must stop worrying about the cost of making things physically accommodating and must join in the intensification of public awareness around disability. They must also ensure that disabled women are safe from abuse and exploitation.


Gendered implications of climate change

Rita Alita Ndzanga

The issue of global warming is a world’s concern. The concern is that reduced rainfall will lead to a decrease in maize production and reduction in grazing for livestock.

Global warming effects are being felt in hot areas where adult plants survive the heat as old plants have water storage capacities and younger plants die because they cannot hold water. The general opinion is that some parts of the world are becoming hot and dry and the question is what effects will global warming have on the future of poor farming communities who farm in dry hot areas in our country.

Climate change and global warming are issues linked to all the citizens of the world. While global warming increases temperatures, damage to crops is expected, especially in hot rural areas. Wild fires occur regularly resulting in the death of animals both wild and domestic. Shortage of drinking water for both domestic animals and human beings is experienced. There is always shortage of food and medicine in hot rural areas.

Sources of energy are sought, as a result women, the people who suffer most, cut wood in forests due to lack of energy to prepare whatever meals they can find for their families as well as to keep their families warm during severe cold winters. Energy and clean drinking water is still a problem in our poor rural areas. Young mothers suffer most as they have to take care of their infants both during summer and severe cold winters; the babies are to be kept clean and well-fed.

We could start by acknowledging the amount of work that is being done by the SA Weather Services on global climate change, which is a great environmental change facing our country in this century. We are thankful to the South African Weather Services to help safeguard lives, to safeguard the environment and hoping that their services will in future be extended to our deep rural areas as well; the indigenous methods of detecting whether weather disasters have passed on with the elders of our communities.

I would also like to thank Parliament for always celebrating March 8, the International Women’s Day to remind the women of the world that women in our rural areas celebrate with all other women. Our democratic government under the ANC has done a lot to providing water and electricity to our rural areas. Our rural areas are vast. We still have areas that are in need of clean energy and clean drinking water.

Shortage of drinking water for both domestic animals and human beings is experienced due to global warming

Climate change is always associated with tornados, with floods, with heat waves and severe cold spells. The SA Weather Services uses some of the most sophisticated technologies to serve our country, and are of great assistance to our country’s disaster management authorities.

Our South African weather personnel participate in international conferences and groups focussing on climate change. The SA Weather Services has representatives in international working groups and intergovernmental panels on climate change.

The priority of our South African Weather Services is saving lives through effective and timely warnings.


     
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