The age-old question about gender equality is still hot on the lips of many women, even 20 years after apartheid. On page 65 of our June issue we tackle the reality that South African women still walk behind, referencing the tragic gang rape and subsequent death of 17-year-old Anene Botha.
Since this article was written, the 2014 South African Commission for Gender Equality (CGE) summit occurred. We take a look at the findings, as summarised by gender specialist Gray Aschman for the Agenda Feminist Media organisation in Africa.
1. The Governments’ response to the causes and impact of gender-based violence needs a lot of work.
2.South Africa has many domestic laws that promote gender equality and serve to protect women. These include the Employment Equity Act, the Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act, the Domestic Violence Act, the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Act, the Protection from Harassment Act and the Prevention and Combating of Trafficking in Persons Act among others.
3.Patriarchal and sexist attitudes prevail in South Africa, noted by a resurgence of sexist traditional practices like virginity testing and female genital mutilation (FGM).
4. There is 45% representation of women in Parliament, however women’s political participation is not always acknowledged.
5.Women are under-represented in the judiciary, and there is no gender parity in the private sector.
6. Insufficient attention has been paid to the needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people, women with disabilities and rural women.
7. Promoting women’s economic empowerment and addressing the impact of poverty on women was a key priority. It was proposed that funding should be provided for female entrepreneurs to be developed, to help rural women and women with disabilities to be actively included in economic empowerment training and support initiatives.
8. It was proposed that the state should include gender-based violence education in school curricula and develop gender-sensitisation programmes for boys to prevent gender-based violence from a young age.
9. The women’s movement in South Africa was powerful and largely united under apartheid, but post-1994 has seen it become fragmented, and the need to strengthen and reconnect the movement was identified as a priority.
10. To protect women’s health rights and promote access to healthcare services, healthcare worker training should aim to transform attitudes towards gender; the impact of gender on HIV should be central to HIV policy.
11. The need for public awareness campaigns ran throughout, as educating the population about gender issues and women’s and LGBTI individuals’ rights isparamount to achieving gender equality in South Africa.
12. In order to eradicate harmful religious and traditional practices, it was suggested that dialogues be held.
Find out more about the findings from the summit: agenda.org.za