• Zambia Tackles Gender Parity in Land Reforms

    Rights organisation, Gender Links, says that, "Cultural practices and customary laws in Southern Africa Development Committee (SADC) limit women's ability to access, own and control means of production such as land and livestock."
    The organisation believes that the inability by women to access means of production has had an impact on their economic independence and ability to move out of poverty.
    Statistics indicate that women's access to land for food production is critical to the welfare of the entire region as women are primarily responsible for maintaining households.
    To read the article titled, “Tackling gender parity in land reforms,” click here.

    All Africa
  • Women Grossly Under-Represented in International Politics

    Strategies to increase women’s participation in politics have been advanced through conventions, protocols and international agreements for gender mainstreaming, but they are yet to prove effective in achieving gender parity in the highest government rankings. The latest data from the Inter-Parliamentary Union show that globally, women account for an average of about 20 percent of parliamentary seats.

    This begs the question why, despite formal movements towards advocacy and implementation of mainstreaming policies, quota systems, gender networks, non-governmental organisations and decentralisation of power, there is still a gross minority of women occupying leadership roles in international politics.

    There is no single answer to this difficult question. Two factors can immediately be identified for discursive purposes and to analyse the general gender imbalance in political leadership: gender stereotypes and lack of adequate support structures to rectify existing codified institutions to include women in political leadership and achieve gender equality in global politics.

    Women are still severely under-represented in governments globally. A 2013 World Economic Forum report covering 115 countries notes that women have closed over 90 percent of the gender gap in education and in health but only 15 percent when it comes to political empowerment at the highest levels of government. Although 97 countries have some sort of gender quota system for government positions, according to the Inter-Parliamentary Union, women hold only 17 percent of parliamentary seats and 14 percent of ministerial-level positions worldwide, most of which are related to family, youth, the disabled, and the elderly.

    The lack of support structures to legitimately implement policy is an issue that needs to be problematised. In this, the quota system becomes an important point of discussion. Abundant lip service is paid to implementation of quotas, especially in the developing world. It must be emphasised that the problem of legitimacy and implementation of the official spaces that women occupy in political leadership is a matter of global concern and is not endemic to the South or under-developed nations. That said, these nations have come under the spotlight for previously lacking the gender-progressive policies enjoyed by Northern nations have.

    Numbers are often misleading. This is especially true of quota systems. South Africa presents an interesting case, especially after the 2014 elections. Enshrined in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Protocol on Gender and Development is the 50 percent target for women's representation in all areas of decision-making; this was adopted by South Africa in 2008. South Africa has also been heralded for being one of the most progressive constitutions worldwide, second only to Rwanda in terms of female parliamentary representation on the continent.

    The ruling African National Congress (ANC), has recently come under fire for the drop in female leadership at national and local government levels. Women's parliamentary representation in South Africa has dropped from 44 percent in 2009 to 40 percent after the recent 2014 elections. That of women in provincial legislatures dropped from 41 to 37 percent. Following the announcement of the new cabinet, women in cabinet remain at 41 percent. The proportion of women premiers dropped from 55 percent in 2009 to 22 percent in 2014. In the 2011 local elections, women's representation dropped from 40 to 38 percent.

    In 1998, Francis Fukuyama wrote in a Foreign Affairs article entitled ‘Women and the Evolution of World Politics’ (September/October 1998) that women's political leadership would bring about a more cooperative and less conflict-prone world. This is the common world view with regard to female political leadership.

    This essentialist view maintains and perpetuates gender stereotypes and binaries that are arguably incongruent with empirical historical examples of female leadership in government, the military and the diplomatic corps. The likes of Mbande Nzinga, Golda Meir, Margaret Thatcher and Condoleezza Rice, serve as examples of female leaders that break the mould of such feminine stereotypes as ‘nurturer’, ‘mother’, ‘peacekeeper’ and ‘negotiator’. The problem with these stereotypes is mainly that they represent women as a homogenous interest group and equate the existence of women in political leadership with feminised norms: for example, women should be concerned with empowering other women and furthering women’s rights; women innately aim to avoid conflict; women are emotionally driven rather than rational.

    Furthermore, we should be wary of creating unrealistic expectations. The increase of women in political leadership is necessary not because it will lead to world peace but because women are a group, however heterogeneous, previously excluded from formal public spaces like government and the business sector for the mere fact of being women.

    Essentially it is necessary to have quotas in place and to analyse quantitative fluctuations of women in global political leadership. However, further inspection needs to go into the quality of women’s roles in these public spaces.

    While it is important to be concerned with the decrease in numbers, it is also equally and arguably more important to be concerned about the status of gender relations and normative ideas around gender in government spaces. Growth in number is the first phase through which gender parity can happen. More, however, needs to happen: a new phase in both national and international politics in which the structural, systematic inequalities that prevent women from making legitimate strides in political leadership are rigorously scrutinised.

    - Farai Morobane is a SAIIA-KAS Scholar and is currently completing her Master's degree at Wits University. This article was first published in Leadership magazine.
    Farai Morobane
  • Malawi Set to Implement Programme to Retain Female Parliamentarians

    Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Welfare says a roll-out programme will be implemented to retain female parliamentarians, increase and achieve 50/50 representation of members of parliament in the national assembly.

    Speaking in an interview, Gender Affairs director, Peter Msefula affirms that the programme will focus on training female parliamentarians on how best they can save the interest of the people in their constituencies.

    Msefula reiterates that many female parliamentarians pledge a lot of developmental programmes of which they do not manage to implement and this prompts their followers to lose trust in them.

    To read the article titled, “Female Parliamentarians key for Malawi Development - Kaliya,” click here.

    Malawi News Agency Online
  • GBV Indicators Study for Western Cape

    The Gender Link’s Western Cape GBV Indicators Study provides the first comprehensive baseline data on violence against women in the province.

    The study shows that 39 percent of women have experienced some form of violence in their lifetime, and that the same proportion of men admit to perpetrating violence.

    It found that most of this violence takes place where all citizens should feel safest - in the home and in communities – and that the highest proportion of violence is the kind for which there is no category in police records - emotional, verbal and economic abuse.

    To read the article titled, “GBV Indicators Study - Western Cape Province, SA,” click here.

    All Africa
  • Malawi Puts HIV-Positive Women on ARVs

    Malawi President, Peter Mutharika, says his country was the first to adopt a policy of putting all HIV positive pregnant and breast feeding women on anti-retroviral (ARV) drugs regardless of their CD4 Count.

    Speaking at the signing of the Protect the Goal Campaign as a sign of commitment to the fight against HIV and AIDS, Mutharika argues that the policy has significantly reduced the number of children born with HIV and has taken Malawi closer to achieving an HIV free generation.

    “Malawi has come a long way in the fight against HIV and AIDS. As a country, we have continued to scale up interventions that work. Already more than seven million people, almost half of the population of this country have been tested for HIV and have received their results,” he adds.

    To read the article titled, “Malawi first country to put HIV positive pregnant women on ARVs - APM,” click here.

    Malawi News Agency Online
  • NLB Donates in Honour of Women

    The National Lottery Board (NLB) has handed over cheques worth millions of rands to charity organisations across South Africa.
    The donations were made at the NLB's women empowerment function as part of commemorating Women's Month in Pretoria on Tuesday.
    Meanwhile, the NLB has also condemned last week's incident where one of their officials was suspended on allegations of fraud to the tune of R600 000 meant for good causes.
    To read the article titled, “Lotteries Board splashes out to honour women,” click here.

    SABC News
  • GBV Hinders Women’s Freedom - Chipatiso

    According to Linda Musariri Chipatiso, it seems incongruous that South Africans celebrate Women's Month, yet stories of conflict and gender-based violence (GBV) flood today's headlines.

    In her article titled ‘Gender Violence Still Hinders Women's Freedom’, Chipatiso argues that, “Whether it is the abduction of girls in Nigeria, the unending trial of Oscar Pistorius or the young woman raped and murdered last over the weekend because of her sexuality- the horrific immediacy of violence is all too apparent.”

    She states that the majority of cases go unreported, unnoticed and justice is not served, adding that it is also evident in conflict and post-conflict situations where rape is often used as a weapon of war.

    To read the article titled, “Gender Violence Still Hinders Women's Freedom,” click here.

    All Africa
  • Over 45 000 Women Raped in August

    At 12h25 on 20 August 2014, the number of rapes this month reached a staggering 45 402, according to Blow the Whistle.

    Blow the Whistle director, Mike Rowley, points out that, “In August 2014, statistically there’ll be a total of 74,400 rapes,” adding that, “Even though we fight this battle every day, August is the month we’ll make our biggest stand yet.”

    Blow the Whistle is an anti-rape initiative that works at empowering women and children by giving them their voices back. The initiative aims to give vulnerable women and children platforms to feel safe, by creating awareness of the crisis of rape in South Africa.

    To read the article titled, “More than 45000 South African women raped so far this month: Blow the Whistle,” click here.

    Times Live
  • FPD’s Gender-Based Violence Knock on Door Campaign - Our Stories

    The Foundation for Professional Development (FPD) Gender-Based Violence (GBV) management course proved to be a success in the community of Bayview, Durban.

    The Ubuntu community workers were impressed with the amount of information that became available to help them to do their jobs better.

    Bayview is a community where drug trafficking and substance abuse has caused a moral decay among many members of the area. People in this community struggle to access basic needs such as shelter, proper health care and education services, and GBV has taken over the community because people have been scared to neither talk nor report it. But lately; the women, men and children of this community have heard enough and they are been vocal about the abuse.

    During the GBV Management training, FPD head of clinical and educational training, Amor Gerber realised that the community workers needed counselling because they were emotional and very heated during the speak out session. “We can’t expect the Ubuntu community workers to help and deal with other people’s issues if they have not resolved their own issues, if they are still angry and they haven’t moved on,” said Amor Gerber.

    At the time of the speak out session, the Ubuntu community workers opened old wounds and shared their experiences, the following are some of their stories:

    Crystal: When I was a little girl my mother was always abused by my father because he was a drug addict. I used to always want to protect my mother from being beaten but my father was too powerful. My mother was the silent type but I couldn’t be silent, I had to get out there and tell whoever would listen to me but no one believed me because I was child. My father had the society fooled to believe that he was a Good Samaritan and we were liars. My mother was a proud Indian woman who was ashamed of moving back to her family and telling them what she was going through.

    “People always judge a victim for staying with an abuser, many people stay because that might be the only way keeping their children safe.” - Survivor

    Sweetie: My ex-husband used to abuse me and our children, he used to lock the doors and the gates then he would start hitting us with anything he could reach. The police would come and say that they don’t get involved in domestic issues and that there is nothing they can do and they would just leave. As soon as they leave it would happen again, it was an ongoing thing and there were times where my children would hide under the tables and behind the room divider due to the violence. He used to choke us and poke us; he once cracked my head on the floor.

    “Nobody knew what was going on in our house. I never screamed. I never told anybody. If the neighbours had to hear, I knew I would be pushed even more.” – Survivor

    Mariam: On my wedding day a lot of people told me that; “you are going into a new life, you need to endure”, when they told me to endure, I didn’t understand what they were referring to, until the day it started happening. I had a daughter outside of my marriage and unfortunately in this marriage I couldn’t conceive so I was being raped but I was not aware of it. I told myself that it was ordinary because we needed a child. I don’t worry about myself anymore, I worry about my children.

    Gayle: When I was 3 years old I was raped. He grabbed me and threw me on the bed. I was asthmatic and he stuffed a sock into my mouth and covered my face with a pillow. I was kicking and screaming to catch my breath but he lifted up my dress and he started raping me and I ended up in children’s hospital.

    “At times he was a very caring husband. And then without a reason, he would go into one of his moods. The things that I did right one day would trigger verbal and physical abuse the next day.” - Survivor

    Silence, obedience and misconceptions have destroyed our society; it is time that we all break the silence on violence that is happening in our homes and communities; and build a safer environment for the next generation.

    - Foundation for Professional Development.
  • Women Urged to Help Girl Child Education

    Malawi's first lady, Gertrude Hendrina Mutharika, urges women in diaspora to assist in the education of a girl child back home in order to make them responsible citizens.
    Mutharika believes girls in Malawi drop out of school due to several challenges such as lack of support, long distances to school and early marriages.
    She further adds that, "Government has introduced a number of initiatives with the assistance of our development partners to make sure that girls do stay in school and also complete their education.”
    To read the article titled, “Madame Mutharika urges women in the diaspora to help girl child education,” click here.

    All Africa
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