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Challenges that remain a hindrance in attaining gender equality in South Africa

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Media Release

Attention: Editors, Producers and Reporters

For immediate Release: 08 August 2018

Challenges that remain a hindrance in attaining gender equality in South Africa

As South Africa celebrates women’s day tomorrow, the Commission for Gender Equality (CGE) saw it befitting to do a reflection on the challenges that remain a hindrance in attaining gender equality. The Gender Commission in its quest to ascertain the challenges that remain a stumbling block in the attainment of gender equality has embarked in numerous projects and studies. A year 20-year review was commissioned to the Human Science Research Council (HSRC) to look at the progress made on gender equality since the establishment of CGE in 1996. Amongst the projects and studies that the Gender Commission has conducted include: Gender Transformation at the Institutions of Higher Learning, Gender Transformation in the Private and Public Sector, the African Gender Development Index (AGDI) study, Policy Dialogues with various Policy Makers both in the Public and Private Sector. This is in addition to the large scale outreach and legal clinics that the Legal and Public and Education Information Departments conduct to raise awareness, monitor and evaluate the extent of gender transformation in the country.

These studies were informed by the Gender Commission’s mandate and to measure South Africa’s compliance with international and reginal instruments in regard to gender equality.  The AGDI study notes that more girls finish school and enter institutions of higher learning. However, when examining employment statistics, we see that more men are in wage paying jobs, in high paying jobs and in managerial or decision-making positions more so that women.  This is as a result of the deeply entrenched patriarchal system that benefits to men and the process resulting in gender pay wage gap. As a result, patriarchy and its tendency to privilege men makes a mockery of the strides made to reach gender equality as women continue to be unequally positioned in the workplace.

Women still bear the brunt of gender-based violence and other related to atrocities. This is not limited to domestic violence but also sexual harassment both at home and workplaces. Women are unable to walk freely for fear of all sorts of harassment and abuses. According to statistics released by the South African Police Service for 2016/17 gender based violence figures are still alarmingly high. The Gender Commission has realized that the absence of a national coordinating structure on gender-based violence has a ripple effect on the work that seeks to address the scourge.

These studies have discovered that on reflection, South Africa should be commended on its attempt to acknowledge women’s equality in its policies and legislative framework. The lack of change thereof is a result of the misalignment between legislative priorities and implementation. South Africa needs to do more work to making these policies a reality for women.

The collegiality between the Gender Commission and the Ministry of Women in the Presidency in various dialogues and nation-wide campaigns in addressing issues of women empowerment and gender based violence against women and girls has seen enormous strides being made in conscientising society. The #100MenMarch and #Totalshutdown that the Gender Commission participated in also helped to raise the conscious awareness about the rampant abuse that is taking place against women and children.

The Gender Commission has through its gender transformation at the institutions of higher learning discovered that there were no policies that were geared into addressing lack of women empowerment and sexual harassment which were on the increase.  If there was a policy on sexual harassment that policy did not talk to the implementation part. It is for that reason that we began to work with institutions of higher learning to assist them in drafting empowerment policies and sexual harassment policies. Ever since the Commission started monitoring and evaluating these aspects, there is a reduction in gender based violence cases. We have also noted women being appointed to senior leadership positions at it is with Nelson Mandela University, WITS and UCT recently.

South Africa is also affected by traditional harmful practices such as underage/forced marriages, genital mutilation and virginity testing. Though there are necessary legislation including the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, the laws are not applied effectively and therefore ignored at times. There also a need to review legislation such as Children’s Act, Sexual Offences Act, the Domestic Violence Act and other related statutes to assess the effectiveness of implementation and factors undermining implementation.

The Gender Commission is of the view that collaboration between State, Chapter Nine Institutions, Civil Society Organisations on activities and projects that seek to eradicate the scourge of gender based violence and total women empowerment can see the challenges that remain an impediment in gender equality addressed. For provision of effective and efficient services to advance society free from gender oppression and all forms of inequality, government should also consider providing adequate resources to institutions mandated to promote and protect gender equality.


Issued by: Commission for Gender Equality (CGE)

Date:   08 August 2018

Contact Person: Javu Baloyi

Tel: 083 579 3306

The Commission for Gender Equality

The Commission for Gender Equality is established in terms of Section 181 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa in order to promote respect for gender equality and the protection, development and attainment of gender equality.


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