Women Empowerment

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Women Training Programme for Effective Participation & Leadership Role within Governance Structures

Introduction  

Women participation and leadership role in governance is imperative to good governance to ensure  (i) demographic representation and participation of communities in legislative and policy making processes; (ii) representative articulation of needs towards human development;  and (iii) contribution [pic]to government effectiveness and accountability. 

Although there has been an improvement and recognition of the importance and role of women in governance in recent times, their role and participation has been limited by inadequate capacity, failure to recognize women skills and competencies by most governance structures and marginalizing institutional and cultural practices. Irrespective of the constitutional provisions, women still experience a hostile governance environment that hinders their effective participation and leadership role.    

South African Context

Since 1994, the South African government has introduced policies, programmes and institutions to ensure women participation, emancipation and created opportunities for women development. For example,  (i) gender equality is a fundamental tenet under the Bill of Rights of The Constitution of South Africa, and the country has adopted sophisticated rights-based legislation with explicit reference to gender equality; (ii) the South African government is a signatory to regional and international instruments that promote gender equality; (iii) gender considerations are integrated into government policies and programmes; (iv) In  2005 South Africa was the 11th country to launch the 50/50 campaign; (v) the Women Empowerment Unit was established to identify factors that hinders women full participation in the legislative making processes;  (vi) Commission on Gender Equality was established;  (vii) municipality Structure Act (1998, 11 (3) stipulate equal gender representation; the National Gender Machinery has been institutionalized; and (viii) the Ministry for Women, Children and Persons with Disabilities is a central co-coordinating point for the advancement and protection of the rights of women, children and persons with disabilities.

Some of the key achievements towards women governance participation and leadership role to date include:

• The representation of women in parliament has increased from 25% in 1994 to 44% after April 2009 elections; • The number of women Ministers and Deputy Ministers increased from 18% in 1994 to 40% in the 2009 election; • Women constitute 42% in Provincial legislatures and 40% of all elected councilors at the Local Government Level; • 30% of women in the National Council of Provinces are women; • Five of the nine provinces are led by women Premiers, • three of the country's six metropolitan cities are led by women Mayors; and • South Africa is rated third globally in women representation in Parliament after Rwanda and  Sweden. 

The Strategy/Approach: The overall objective of the programme is aimed at improving women participation and leadership role through capacity development within political parties and other political formations, i.e women parliamentarians and councilors.

The thrust of the programme approach is:

• Local ownership of the programme at provincial level to ensure sustainability; • Monitoring mechanisms to ensure relevance and impact, and expand on the current knowledge base on women participation and leadership role; • Multistakeholder approach to ensure broad participation and support; • Non-partisan approach to diversify input to enrich the programme; and • United Nations interagency collaboration to broaden competencies and expertise and knowledge base.

Envisaged Outcomes 

• Improved women participation and role within governance institutions; • Increased number of women parliamentarians and councilors...
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