Pretoria: Women, Children and People with Disabilities Minister Lulu Xingwana says the Women Empowerment and Gender Equality Bill will help enforce gender parity both in the private and public sectors.
The Bill was approved by Cabinet last week.
“Fifty-fifty representation will be law in this country once the Act has been approved. We are confident that this Bill will contribute towards institutionalising mainstreaming both within government and the private sector.
“Through this Bill, we will be responding to the calls made by many women of our country who find themselves discriminated against on the basis of their gender,” said the minister.
Xingwana was delivering a keynote address this morning at the Gender Responsive Budgeting Initiative breakfast meeting held in Johannesburg this morning.
Gender responsive budgets are not separate budgets for women or for men, but rather, they are actual budgets that are planned, appropriated and monitored in a gender responsive manner.
However, developing good policies that are gender sensitive has no meaning without an adequate budget to implement the policy, particularly the gender aspect of it, noted the minister.
“We are fully aware that budgets have been instrumental in perpetuating gender biases globally. We also know that budgets can be instrumental in transforming and redressing existing gender inequalities.”
Mainstreaming gender into budgeting processes was critical to building an equal society. Xingwana believed that gender-responsive budgeting could be used as a tool to promote the socio-economic rights of women, children and people with disabilities, and was key to reducing inequality in the country.
“We must ensure gender mainstreaming in budgeting processes and programme implementation to ensure that we do not, inadvertently, perpetuate gender inequalities and marginalization of women. In this regard, we must continue to work tirelessly to ensure that the New Growth Path and the Green Fund are gender and disability responsive,” she added.
The critical question that had to be confronted, she said, was how government has used the national budget to address the poverty, unemployment and inequality that continued to confront society in general, particularly women.
She acknowledged that South Africa had the most progressive policies and legislations that were aimed at advancing women empowerment and gender equality.
“However, the challenge remains the actual translation of these policies and legislative frameworks into implementation. As a result, our women still bear a disproportionate burden of poverty, inequality and unemployment. They continue to be marginalised and discriminated against in terms of economic opportunities in the labour market as well as access to land, credit, and finance,” said Xingwana.
She urged key role players to continue to strengthen the capacity of provincial and local government, planners and policy-makers, so that they can prepare their provincial budget plans from a gender perspective.
The Gender Responsive Budget Initiative will be piloted in the Eastern Cape and Limpopo, where some of the country’s most severely impoverished women live. The two provinces also have a large concentration of rural areas where the need is more critical.
“We are painfully aware that financial dependency on husbands, fathers, partners and family members has increased women’s vulnerability to domestic violence, rape, incest, abuse, and murder. We remain convinced that empowering women will help us win the war against poverty, inequality, unemployment and abuse,” said the minister.