The Federation of Unions of South Africa (FEDUSA) was proud to participate in Women’s Parliament 2012 which celebrated the “mainstreaming [of] Gender Equality in all Sectors of South African Society”. FEDUSA is pleased especially to note the approval by Cabinet of the Women Empowerment and Gender Equality Bill 2012 (WEGE), and will fervently support the adoption of this Bill into legislation, following thorough social dialogue at the National Economic Development and Labour Council (NEDLAC) and public consultation.
The WEGE Bill insists upon 50 per cent representation and meaningful participation of women in decision-making structures, which must include; (a) setting targets for such representation and participation; (b) building women’s capacity to participate; (c) enhancing the understanding and attitudes of men and boys to accept the capabilities and participation of women and girls as their equals; and (d) developing support mechanisms for women. FEDUSA Social Policy Officer, Lauren Uppink says: “It is important that 50 per cent representation is not seen merely as a numerical target, but an incentive for developing mechanisms and structures that will empower women through skills development and provide support that encourages them to fulfil assigned roles to the best of their ability”. She continued, “Should public and private entities fail to educate, train and support women for such decision-making roles, we will merely be setting them up for failure, and effecting the opposite of the well-intentioned Bill”.
The Draft Resolution on the WEGE Bill, taken at Women’s Parliament 2012 also recommends that the Bill needs to ensure that the progress of the girl child is monitored throughout their stages in life to ensure that they are absorbed in the mainstream economy when they finish their formal skills development process. Uppink continues: “A focus on preparing girl children and young women will ensure that they are equipped to enter the working world alongside their male counterparts, and receive equal opportunities in employment and treatment, in line with the international Convention No. 100 of the International Labour Organisation”. “However we must not disregard our young boys, we need to educate them in such a way as to raise young men who respect women and encourage equality for both sexes”, she says.
In line with the equal treatment of women in South African society, FEDUSA adamantly supports the Draft Resolution taken at Women’s Parliament on the Traditional Courts Bill 2011, which calls for the Bill to be withdrawn completely due to its unconstitutional treatment of women. The Bill as it stands does not allow for women to opt out of Traditional Courts procedures in rural areas, which withholds their rights as outlined in the South African Constitution. Justice Minister Jeff Radebe, said on 30 September 2012, that the Bill will not be withdrawn from the Parliamentary process, and therefore FEDUSA joins the Department for Women, Children and People with Disabilities and a growing community of Women’s and Human Rights organisations who oppose the Bill.
Martle Keyter, FEDUSA Vice-President of Gender stated; “FEDUSA is fully committed to the empowerment of women in South African government, business and the labour market. We salute the Department for the development of the long-awaited WEGE Bill, and the participants of Women’s Parliament for the drafted resolutions that protect the rights and equality of South African Women”.