Tag Archive | women empowerment

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The controversial Women Empowerment and Gender Equality Bill was withdrawn by the new minister of women, Susan Shabangu just before the recent short recess in Parliament.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 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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