Women Empowerment Bill gets new minister

Women Empowerment Bill in the queue….

Under the previous government, the improbable Women Empowerment and Gender Equality Bill, which contemplates tough laws to enforce gender transformation compliance in the private and public sectors, was virtually bulldozed through the National Assembly (NA) to be implemented as early as 2015. The Bill was promoted by former minister of women, children and people with disabilities, Lulu Xingwana, and looked suspiciously like a last minute attempt to retain her cabinet post.

The Bill now sits for enactment but it may be some time before the new minister of the newly formed ministry of women, Susan Shabangu, who takes over the re-named ministry, gets around to implementing it by regulation should President Zuma add his stamp. The new ministry of women is attached to the President’s office.

Decision making women

Under the new proposed legislation, government departments and private entities will be required to fill a minimum of 50% of all senior and top management positions, described in the Bill as “decision making positions”, with women.

As Parliament closed, the Bill went to the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) for concurrence, the NCOP running to extended period of a fortnight to allow the passage of some ten Bills to finality and presidential assent before the elections.

Unusually, this particular Bill had been returned to the NA portfolio committee for approval in respect of a couple of minor alterations.   Consequently, the Bill still remains as outstanding business for the President to consider signing.

Limping through

Opposition parties have described the Bill as “unworkable and unachievable” and voted against the Bill in the NA after the Bill had to be introduced twice by the Speaker, the chamber initially failing to form a quorum.   ANC members had to be found to put their hands up.

This Bill, with a number of others, represented a handful of pieces of legislation that were “fast tracked” before closure, ANC party whips using their majority position in the NA.

Resources limited

As far as the practicality of the Bill is concerned, opposition members have repeatedly pointed out that there is neither the labour pool in many industries and sectors to meet such targets as envisaged, either now or in the future, and have queried the fate of male black employees, already under siege in the job market to provide for families.

Nevertheless, minister Xingwana was furiously attached to her objectives after Cabinet’s approval of the Bill, despite a Nedlac rejection.
ANC chief whip, Stone Sizane, issued (unusually for a party whip) a statement following the Bill’s approval by the NA before it went to the NCOP, having so energetically guided the legislative voting.   He said, “The Bill represents a significant turning point in our endeavour to liberate women from all forms of discrimination and oppression.”

“It is firmly in line with the provisions of our constitution and will enforce 50% gender representation, thereby empowering women by ensuring that they participate meaningfully in our economy.”

Criminalization

Sizane concluded, “Unlike the existing legislation on women empowerment and gender equality, which has suffered challenges such as lack of enforcement and implementation, this Bill provides for a fine of about 10% of companies` annual turnover and/or imprisonment for non-compliance.”

The Bill also requires the relevant minister to annually publish a report to recognise those who comply with the Act and name and shame those who do not.”

Other articles in this category or as background
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//bee/women-empowerment-gender-equality-bill/
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//bee/women-empowerment-bill-powered/
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//bee/employment-equity-act-regulations-cause-shock/

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