The Department of Women Children and People with Disabilities recently released its 2013 version of the Women’s Empowerment and Gender Equality Bill. The Parliamentary Portfolio Committee has called for public comment on the Bill by 20 December 2013. After consulting interested parties, we are of the view that the Bill fails to serve its objectives if it is passed into law.
The Bill as it currently stands is insufficient to serve its purported purpose to advance women’s empowerment and gender equality in South Africa. Broadly, We are of the view that in order to attain the objects of the WEGE Bill, it must seek to effectively address patriarchy and structural unfair gender discrimination in order to address its varied manifestations that keep gender inequality alive in South Africa. The Bill focuses on formal rather than substantive equality and consequently omits to put in place adequate measures to make significant changes to the realities of daily struggles faced by the majority of South African women and girls. The Bill defines gender in binary terms as a result excludes gender non-conforming people. We are also concerned that the Bill will become yet another piece of legislation that is not effectively implemented, rendering it ineffective due to an omission to properly cost and budget for its implementation.
We have requested that the Portfolio Committee postpone the submission deadline from 20 December 2013 to a date next year after the Committee has had the opportunity to complete a thorough consultative process with women in different contexts across the country.
Whilst we have called for a postponement of the submission deadline and to consult women broadly on what they want the WEGE Bill to contain, we are requesting that organisations make submissions on the WEGE Bill on or before 20 December should the deadline not be postponed. For more information on this call, please see: