The Parliamentary Unit was established to give effect to the broad mandate of the Commission which is to promote, protect, develop and attain gender equality. In addition there are specific mandatory obligations that made the establishment of a Parliamentary Unit vital namely Section 11(1) ( c ) and (d) of the Commission for Gender Equality Act 39 of 1996 as amended which provides as follows :
Section 11(1) ( c )
“The Commission shall evaluate –
- Any Act of Parliament;
- Any system of personal and family law or custom;
- Any system of indigenous law, customs or practices; or
- Any other law,
In force at the commencement of this Act or any law proposed by Parliament or any other legislature after the commencement of this Act, affecting or likely to affect gender equality or the status of women and to make recommendations to Parliament or such other legislature with regard thereto”
Section 11(1) (d)
The Commission may recommend to Parliament or any other legislature the adoption of new legislation which would promote gender equality and the status of women.
Section 11(1) (h)
The Commission shall monitor compliance with international conventions, international covenants and international charters acceded to or ratified by the Republic , relating to the objects of the Commission.
In terms of the above the legal mandate of the Parliamentary Unit is clearly defined and allows the CGE to develop functions, goals and focus areas easily. These are :
- The CGE develops submissions in response to proposed legislation consistently. These submissions identify areas that need to be gender mainstreamed when legislation is being proposed by Parliament.
- The CGE proposes amendments to Bills that would address gender gaps.
- Recommendations are made to the South African Law Reform Commission to initiate legislation or legal reform that would address gender equality and the status of women where necessary.
- Compliance with International Instruments such as the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and Southern African Gender Development Protocol (SADC Gender Protocol ) are continuously monitored.
Finally the PLU also supports internal stakeholders when reporting is done by the Executive and Senior management in Parliament.
The goal of the PLU is to strengthen the relationship between Parliament and the CGE because the National Assembly is a significant partner in the National Gender Machinery.
The Relevant Acts and International Instruments
The key legislation which furthers the CGE mandate are as follows :
- The CGE Act – sets out the powers and functions of the CGE and including the PLU.
- The Constitution – establishes the CGE and sets out the constitutional mandate.
- Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act (PEPUDA) – sets out additional powers and functions for the CGE.
- Conventional on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) – regarded as the international Bill of Rights for Women.
- African Charter on Human and People’s Rights (ACHPR).
The above legislation and international instruments provide a roadmap and tools for the PLU to pursue its noble goals namely to affirm the rights of women and their ability enjoy equal benefits and freedoms in society.