Women Empowerment Bill being powered through

Women  Equality Bill could pass on emotional ride….

Further debate took place in Parliament before the Bill was passed to the NCOP for concurrence on the Women Empowerment and Gender Equality Bill, the discussions centering mainly on the minister’s powers to investigate and call for the plans of government departments, state utilities and certain public entities, as yet undefined, to achieve the objectives set out in the Bill.

It appears from reports that there are still minor amendments to be made according to the NCOP and the only way to get the Bill passed would be to recall Parliament.

50% gender equality

The objectives of the Bill are stated as a 50% gender equality provision in all private and public entities within one year and failure to satisfy the minister on attempts to meet the objectives of the Bill, or provide evidence that success in that direction was a practical reality, could result in fines or even or even imprisonment being imposed at the minister’s discretion.

Opposition member, Helen Lamoela (DA), said she and her party failed to even understand why the department of women, children and people with disabilities, which had no budget to implement and police such legislation or had the capability or even legal knowledge to regulate for such matters, had tabled the Bill as the document before them had no hope in passing constitutional muster.

ANC members maintained that because women’s equity in “decision making processes” was not even being remotely achieved as far as meaningful participation in the economy, that this is why such radical moves were necessary.

Rural needs of women

When asked if there should be two Bills, one for the empowerment of rural women where traditional laws gave all the benefits of land and ownership of goods to men and another Bill deal with women in “decision making positions”, the ANC rejected such a proposal saying that women in general in South Africa had to be immediately brought into the mainstream on a holistic basis.

They said that as there was no apparent move on the part of either business or government to achieve this, the department believed that in terms of their mandate, such legislation was necessary.

More than just B-BBEE

The DA reminded the committee of the BUSA submission of the effect that such a decision would have on both foreign investment, and an already overburdened compliance sector of South African business. DA, IFP and FF+ members said they were determined not to walk out of the meetings but rather try and convince the ANC and chair of the committee that not only did the Bill have no constitutional rationale but was bad for South African investment programmes.

The proponents of the Bill had already agreed to exclude churches at a request of the ACDP. It appears that the Bill failed the Nedlac process. The Democratic Alliance has focused on the effect such legislation would have on the formation of political parties.

Male jobs at risk

Nobody it appears, as one commentator noted, has focused on the effect of male black employment, already under extreme pressure to provide family support.

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