Tag Archive | gender equality

Back comes gender equality bill for re-think

Gender equality bill still on the cards…

The controversial Women Empowerment and Gender Equality Bill was withdrawn by the new minister of women, Susan Shabangu just before the recent short recess in Parliament.   The legislation in its present form would have obliged companies to progressively achieve 50% representation for women in top levels of management.

Business has termed the Bill as having clauses which are impractical, others unenforceable.

The Gender Equality Bill was pushed through the National Assembly (NA) just ahead of the March elections, having been tabled by former minister of women, children and people with disabilities, Lulu Xingwana.    However, President Jacob Zuma had not yet signed the Bill into law and has now obliged minister Shabangu.

She told the portfolio committee on women in the Presidency during her department’s budget vote presentations that the Bill had been tabled without sufficient consultation and would be re-introduced when more consultation had taken place.

Focus to change

susan shabangu2The revised bill would focus less on equal representation between men and women numerically, she said, and added that there had to be mechanisms to achieve “proper and effective representation” and that “excellence” had to be a qualification.

As the flagship project of previous minister Xingwana, the  Women Empowerment and Gender Equality Bill was surprisingly hammered through Parliament with a hefty ANC majority of the last government despite being rejected by all social partners in Nedlac, due to its “vagueness and ambiguity”.

The Bill stipulated that all public and also “designated bodies” nominated by the minister at the time would have to submit plans for progressively achieving 50% representation for women in their decision-making structures.

Criminalisation

The proposed fines are stated as a maximum of 10% of annual turnover for continuous offenders, whilst the directors or CEOs of designated bodies could be liable on conviction to imprisonment for a period not exceeding five years.   The Bill, as presently worded, overrides all other laws dealing with empowerment.

Subsequently, within the NA at final reading, ANC parliamentarians caused a failure to form a quorum, with DA members not attending on principle.  However, later, after ANC party whips applied pressure, it was passed by a small majority of hands.

There was strong opposition from business and industry at public hearings who complained that the Bill, which so heavily criminalised offenders, was at the same time both “impractical”, “unattainable” and “misguided in business terms”.

It was also submitted that there was in many cases no possibility of labour pools to meet such targets in many sectors over the time frame set by the Bill.

Other articles in this category or as background
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//bee/women-empowerment-bill-gets-new-minister/
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//bee/women-empowerment-bill-powered/
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//cabinetpresidential/womens-constitutional-rights-to-be-followed-up-at-law/

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Women Empowerment and Gender Equality Bill

50% equity Bill for women headed for law….

black white womenThe Women Empowerment and Gender Equality Bill, drafted by the department of committee on women, children and people with disabilities and tabled before Parliament, demands 50% equity in all businesses for women where “decision making processes” are concerned.

The Bill  appears to have been passed by cabinet, although not making it through first base with NEDLAC. Having had such a response by cabinet, presumably from the President himself, it is highly possible that the Bill will be powered through this last parliamentary session of the present government. The Bill was tabled by minister Lulu Xingwana.

BUSA strongly objected

In its parliamentary phase after tabling, Business Unity SA (BUSA) objected to the Bill in a submission stating that there was absolutely no need for such legislation when laws were already in place covering black equity in which the subject of gender equity or equality was adequately covered.

BUSA argued that in terms of the suggestions made in the Bill, called the Women Empowerment and Gender Equality Bill, such a Bill would attempt to override legislation already in place such as the B-BBEE Act and Employment Equity Acts, this particular Bill calling for 50% equity for women in “decision making areas”.

No labour pool for such law

BUSA called the Bill “unacceptable and unrealistic”, adding that in most cases the labour pool from which the particular type of work envisaged would not even contain a 50% reserve of women. The DA said the Bill was probably unconstitutional.

Some attempt to justify the Bill was made by the department on women, children and people with disabilities at committee level when they said the Bill would not have been approved by cabinet unless government was serious about the fact that only 20% of top posts in business were occupied by women.

A spokesperson said for the department subsequently said that the Bill might initially apply to possibly as yet undefined bodies such as state boards and political formations, which again the DA referred to as “cannibalising” existing state institutions.

The Bill never made it past the NEDLAC process last year but in the last days before Parliament closed in 2013, the Bill appeared on the tabled list and comments were called for by Parliament in the early portion of the 2014 session.

The Bill has now been debated in Parliament, that debate and the issues involved being with our clients before posting on this site. The Bill will undoubtedly be passed in the light of the passion by the minister for the Bill, with opposition members across the spectrum voting against or abstaining.

Previous articles referring to this subject

http://parlyreportsa.co.za//bee/employment-equity-amendment-bill-looks-set-easy-passage/
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//bee/court-ruling-equity-quotas-affects-bee/
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//labour/employment-equity-bill-criminalises-offenders/

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