Women and leadership
Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge on Beyond numbers
Women and leadership | 14 Mar 2009 13:27:16
Fifty percent of the people on the ANC list for Parliament for the 2009 Election are women. This approach began in 1994 when the ANC adopted a 33% quota for women on the party list, bringing South Africa up to number ten on the Interparliamentary Union (IPU) ranking of world parliaments.
Of the 135 women parliamentarians at the end of 2008, 111 were from the ANC. Three out of the four Presiding Officers for the two houses of parliament are women. The Deputy President of the Republic and Leader of Government Business is a woman and over 40% of Cabinet Ministers are women. This demonstrates the ANC's commitment to gender parity in decision-making and leadership.
At the 52nd ANC Congress in 2007, we adopted a resolution calling for a 50/50 representation of women in all ANC structures. This was a brave thing to do, considering that some men will need to give way for women on the list. But, it was the right thing to do and the ANC is leading by example.
The rights and freedoms which women now enjoy were not handed to us on a silver platter. We won them through struggle. The struggle to end racial and class exploitation had to have a gender dimension. The ANC's liberation slogan was: "A nation is not free if women are not free".
Over many years of struggle, women played a crucial role. The Bantu Women's League organised resistance to pass laws. Women participated in the Defiance campaigns. Rural women resisted apartheid, forced removals and land dispossession. Poor urban women resisted city by-laws prohibiting free movement and informal trade. In 1954, the Federation of South African Women drew up the Women's Charter, which preceded the Freedom Charter and the Women's Charter for Effective Gender Equality, which was adopted by the Women's National Coalition in 1994.
The "zebra stripes" strategy produces a list with equal numbers of men and women from top to bottom. In adopting quotas, the ANC recognises that patriarchy remains entrenched as an ideology of male privilege and domination. Even though our Constitution subjects customary law to the Bill of Rights, many traditions and customs remain which are oppressive to women. Violence against women and girls remains a huge barrier to women enjoying full equality, security and freedom. HIV/AIDS and ill-health, poverty and joblessness, affects women disproportionately.
Correcting the numbers is a necessary but not sufficient first step.
The questions we need to ask are:
· What can women in these powerful positions do to make a qualitative change in women's lives? Patriarchy remains an obstacle to women bringing their special qualities to leadership and decision making.
· What are these qualities and how can we support women leaders? What needs to change in the institutions of society?
· What do men feel? What do women expect men in power to do in the struggle to dismantle patriarchy?
· What are the new gender struggles? What should be on the women's agenda for parliament?
|Comments or blog posts that amount to hate speech, the incitement of violence or discrimination of any kind will not be tolerated. They will be removed.|