Polokwane Municipality Institutional Profile

Date: September 3, 2013
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“We have made progress with the COE process but we still have room for improvement”

Polokwane Municipality is a local council of Capricorn District Municipality the council joined the COE process in May 2012. The council had been awarded the runner up in the prevention category the 2012 Gender Justice and Local Government Summit, before the council joined the COE process there was no clear indication with regard to gender mainstreaming.

One of the key challenges that the council also faced was that there was no designated gender coordinator and therefore issues of gender got blended in very fluidly with issue of disability and HIV/AIDS. This was problematic as there was no clear direct indication as to how the council would be approaching issues of gender, and there was no sense of understanding and fully grasping the concept of gender mainstreaming.

Before the council joined the COE process there was no clear agenda as to how the gender mainstreaming would take place in the council, the programmes also lacked a sense of ownership and understanding of gender issues in the council. Capacity training and understanding why gender issue were key within the institution was also a major issue. The COE process assisted the council to understand that gender mainstreaming was not only an issue that was meant to be confined to the Special focus unit, but also needed the overall involvement of the programmes and institution.
The council has also managed to formulate a draft gender policy which will be adopted by the council, before the COE process in the council there was no clear indication of a gender policy being developed and implemented.

“The council has done relatively well in terms of the COE process and have finished most of the COE stages and need to complete the Stage 6-Commitment Pledge Ceremony. The guidance and assistance offered to the council by Capricorn District Municipality was also very vital to the council, We have made progress with the COE process but we still have room for improvement” the council has displayed enormous commitment to the COE process and also the manner in which they have approached the COE process has demonstrated their commitment.

The council has faced some challenges with regard to the COE process and also unpacking the concept of gender mainstreaming, one of the key challenges was advocating for the COE process to be fully adopted and understood by the principals. The other key challenge was also changing the perceptions of gender issues being seen as “soft issues” or issues that do not need as much focus. Allocating a gender champion who would understand the context of gender and the issues was also a major challenge as the gender champion is the advocate who will assist with the lobbying from the political side.
However the challenges have been resolved to a certain extent the gender champion who was lobbying for the COE process was capacitated in terms of gender mainstreaming through the COE workshop conducted by GL. A fair number of staff from the different units were also invited to attend the workshop; the key issue was also making the principals understand the importance of gender mainstreaming and the COE process. The Executive Mayor also ensured that the issue of gender was also addressed in council meetings and also ensuring that staff attendance is encouraged across the various events which were hosted to raise issues of Gender Based Violence and also gender awareness.

The council has also started to ensure that gender mainstreaming does not only occur through awareness events but also to ensure that there is enough capacity building and also assessing the training opportunities offered to women and men. There has been visible change within the council since the implementation of the COE process was adopted.
“Attending the Gender Links workshop has helped me understand the value of looking at my job in a gender focus now it all makes sense”- Alex Sikhosihle -Youth Coordinator. The COE process has definitely made an impact within the institution and also the various staff within the council have also been empowered through the intervention.

Polokwane Local Municipality has the support of the Executive Mayor in terms of being visible with issues of gender mainstreaming, the council is also well resourced which gives it an advantage as compared to some of the rural neighbouring local councils. These resources have assisted the council to be able to implement further and also make sure that there is allocation of resources where possible. The council also has forged partnerships with local NGO’s with regard to issues of GBV, HIV/AIDS these partnerships have also assisted the council with a lot of implementation at grassroots level within the various communities.

Performance of the council can be enhanced by ensuring that the built capacity within the council will be maintained, so that the council will also be able to ensure cascading of the process to their local councils. It will also be vital to ensure that the council is well versed and equipped with understanding the issues of gender mainstreaming, to anchor the COE process within the institution.



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