Women continue to struggle in politics: Study

Women are still struggling to climb the ladder in politics. Research presented by the Gender Commission shows that only a fraction of women were earmarked for strategic positions in the run-up to the 2014 national elections.


The commission is holding a discussion on the issue in preparation for the local government elections in August.

The Commission for Gender Equity was not the bearer of good news. Presenting her report on the status of women’s participation in politics, Deputy Director of Research at the organisation, Vernet Napo, pointed out that there was a long way to go.

“There was poor representation of women in leadership but we must also remember that South Africa has rectified some of the instruments especially SADC protocol that says there must be 50-50 representation. However we realised this was not taking place so women are still lagging behind in terms of leadership”.

Napo believes that unless there are clear guidelines and sanctions, this will continue.

“The 50-50 quota system definitely has to be legislated. There is a range of punitive measures that can be put in place for non-compliance and sanctions should be put in place in terms of allocation of public funding so that [non-complying parties] can receive few resources as possible.”

“In addition electoral authorities and party election committees should not accept a party list if parties do not comply or place women in winnable positions in party lists.”

But there were different views from the parties represented. Most of the participants from parties were women and only a handful of men were involved in the discussions.

The study was concluded in 2013 in five provinces. The parties included were the African National Congress (ANC), Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), United Democratic Movement (UDM), and Congress of the People (COPE).

The study highlight the masculine model of politics that lack of party support, education and training, absence of confidence and the electoral system as some of the challenges faced by women.

The Commission is pushing for a quota system in the political arena in order to challenge patriarchy, and as a result societal attitudes to women in leadership positions.

The commission has also started work on analysing the nomination list for 2016 elections.





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