Mixed blessings for women in SA elections

Mixed blessings for women in SA elections

Date: May 14, 2019
  • SHARE:

Johannesburg, 14 May: As predicted to the letter by Gender Links (GL) women’s representation in parliament in South Africa will go up by four percentage points to 44% following the 2019 elections, despite the drop in support for the African National Congress (ANC), whose 50/50 quota for women has been crucial to boosting women’s political presence.

This reflects a growing trend towards parties of all hues – from offshoots of the ANC like the Economic Freedom Front (EFF) to the Democratic Alliance (DA, which vehemently opposes quotas) including women in their ranks.

In the 2019 parliament, the ANC will be down 19 seats, two of these women. The EFF is up 18 seats; 11 of these women. The DA, Inkatha Freedom Party and smaller parties will together bring 11 additional women, while three smaller parties lose one woman each. This brings the overall net gain to 17, or a total of 175 women out of the 400 seat national assembly (44%).

But the four percentage point gain does not change South Africa’s tenth position in the Inter-Parliamentary Union’s (IPU) rankings for women’s political representation. Globally, Rwanda, Cuba and Bolivia have surpassed the 50% mark for women’s representation in national parliaments, and six other countries have surpassed South Africa’s performance. Without a legislated quota, and with vacillating commitment by political parties to gender parity, South Africa will again miss the 50% mark.

None of the political parties contesting has achieved gender parity in its top five. Male leaders either oppose quotas; fail to implement them; or backslide into misogynistic slurs despite the lofty language in their political manifestos.

President Cyril Ramaphosa represents a welcome break to the era of Jacob Zuma, a polygamist and self-confessed philanderer whose presidency witnessed much backlash and backsliding on South Africa’s fragile gender justice gains. Among others, Ramaphosa initiated the first ever presidential summit on gender violence. But he has come under heavy criticism for appointing Bathabile Dhalmini as Minister of Women’s Affairs after her dismal performance as social development minister, and because of her influence in the party as head of the ANC women’s league. Will his personal elections boost give him the courage to rise above party politics and make more principled appointments in the soon to be announced cabinet?

In news just in, only two of the new premiers announced by the ANC, Sisi Ntombela in the Fre State and Refilwe Mtsweni in Mpumalanga are women. A premier has not yet been named for North West.

Of the 48 political parties that contested the 2019 national and provincial election, six were led by women. These included GOOD, the National Freedom Party (NFP), Women Forward, Better Resident’s Association, Minority Front and the South African Maintenance and Estate Beneficiaries Association. Only GOOD and the NFP acquired sufficient votes to be part of South Africa’s sixth parliament.

A further measure of women’s lack of #Voiceandchoice in our society is the fact, according to Media Monitoring Africa (MMA), women sources in news coverage persists at 22% or about one fifth of those whose views and voices are heard in the elections. Despite being one of the most pressing social justice issues of our time, gender equality represents less than one percent of media coverage.

For more information Download the 2019 SA Elections Interim report . For interviews contact Kubi Rama on 0716165556 or GL Communications on 082 560 0066.

One thought on “Mixed blessings for women in SA elections”

Sara Longwe says:

It’s still good news for women in SADC region that the number of women MPs in South Africa has gone up by 4%. We are hoping the Malawi general elections will also bring an increase of women in elected positions. Aluta continua!

Comment on Mixed blessings for women in SA elections

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *