A World of Answers - brought to you by University of Pretoria
aubrey-and-dr-mbethejpg

Why now is the time for gender transformation to take centre stage

Different lived experiences will enable different kinds of decision-making, suggests Sithembile Mbete.

Dr Sithembile Mbete is a lecturer in the Department of Political Sciences at the University of Pretoria and chats to Aubrey Masango about the importance of transformation.

A World of Answers is a podcast series from the University of Pretoria focusing on the challenges we face in South Africa and solutions to bring about positive changes.

Having someone who was raised in a township, whose mother was a domestic worker and whose father was a labourer, then the lived experience that person has had will make them look at decisions that a business, university or government has to make, differently.

Dr Sithembile Mbete, Political Sciences lecturer - University of Pretoria

When the new government came to power in 1994, its imperative to fundamentally change the nature and the structure of South African society, economy, and politics, was crucial.

This meant shifting society from one that was based on a particular race and gender-based exclusion of the vast majority of the population to one that was inclusive of all.

Dr Sithembile Mbete, Political Sciences lecturer - University of Pretoria

And importantly, she emphasises, to change the values and principles on which South African society operates. But the employment and equity data show that we have not gone far enough says Mbete.

While there have been changes at a cosmetic level, Mbete does not believe this has happened at a structural level.

Cosmetic change is, however, a necessary starting point, as it brings a more representative cross-section of the country's demographics into leadership positions, she argues.

They will then make decisions that are in the interests or representative of the demographic majority.

Dr Sithembile Mbete, Political Sciences lecturer - University of Pretoria

She says this does not always happen in practice, and changing the colour or gender of people in decision-making positions, does not mean they will act very differently to those occupying the same positions before them.

While a deeper conversation about real structural change needs to happen, one first has to change the 'superficial' nature of those occupying positions of power.

It is infinitely harder to have that conversation in a room full of white men than in a room that represents the demographic realities of South Africa.

Dr Sithembile Mbete, Political Sciences lecturer - University of Pretoria

Mbete explores whether the race transformation agenda has been at the forefront, overshadowing the gender transformation agenda.

She argues that the struggles in South Africa around racial oppression under apartheid in the 1970s and 80s meant that issue was prioritised at that time.

But that approach to things did not take cognisance of the concept we now call intersectionality, that's the notion that all forms of oppression interact with each other...and you cannot deal with one without the others.

Dr Sithembile Mbete, Political Sciences lecturer - University of Pretoria

People as individuals are complex and contain within them multiple fluid identities, she explains.

The reality of a black woman in South Africa isn't just shaped by being a black African or a woman. They interact and intersect with each other that lead to opportunities and limitations she faces in society.

Dr Sithembile Mbete, Political Sciences lecturer - University of Pretoria

It also interacts with her class position, she adds.

Transformation, therefore, includes all these different aspects, says Mbete.

How do we do this?

We need to shift the conversation from being about numbers.

Dr Sithembile Mbete, Political Sciences lecturer - University of Pretoria

The conversation is really about values, principles, and cultures, that still dominate structures that shape our society, she says.

In Woman's Month in August, the University of Pretoria celebrated the number of female academics and researchers working at the institution. Of the total 8,900 researchers working at the university, 53% are women, and 2,500 are black women.

Mbete's hope is that society transforms to the point that all are included and able to reach their full potential.


Recommended

by NEWSROOM AI
Read More
Panyaza Lesufi takes a swipe at private Afrikaans university under construction

Panyaza Lesufi takes a swipe at private Afrikaans university under construction

Gauteng Education MEC says there is no room in a non-racial South Africa for reminders of apartheid.

Women earn less but have to make it go further, says financial expert

Women earn less but have to make it go further, says financial expert

Gerald Mwandiambira CFP and Managing Partner at Sugar Creek Wealth says women are more responsible with money than men.

The rules of the game are changing - Prasa chair

The rules of the game are changing - Prasa chair

Prasa chair Khanyisile Kweyama outlines how the new War Room is tackling the serious train problems frustrating commuters.

George Calombaris: 'There's a warmth and generosity of spirit in South Africa'

George Calombaris: 'There's a warmth and generosity of spirit in South Africa'

Former Masterchef judge, George Calombaris and Chef Shannon Bennett are in South Africa for the second annual Appetite Fest

Nostalgic Ceres Rail Co. steam train transports you with old-world charm in Cape

Nostalgic Ceres Rail Co. steam train transports you with old-world charm in Cape

The rail company offers day trips to Elgin Railway Market and weekends further afield.

Songstress Sibongile Khumalo and more world-class greats perform at Joy of Jazz

Songstress Sibongile Khumalo and more world-class greats perform at Joy of Jazz

Produced by T-Musicman and supported by 702, these unmissable evenings include both local and international artists.

Popular articles
'My child went to an Afrikaans school'  Panyaza Lesufi says not 'anti-Afrikaans'

'My child went to an Afrikaans school' Panyaza Lesufi says not 'anti-Afrikaans'

Lesufi has been responding to the building of a new Afrikaans university in Pretoria by trade union Solidarity.

Panyaza Lesufi takes a swipe at private Afrikaans university under construction

Panyaza Lesufi takes a swipe at private Afrikaans university under construction

Gauteng Education MEC says there is no room in a non-racial South Africa for reminders of apartheid.

[WATCH] Thieves running off with a shack has Twitter puzzled

[WATCH] Thieves running off with a shack has Twitter puzzled

Khabazela shares tweets and Facebook posts that have gone viral.

[WATCH] Man and woman assaulting a motorist goes viral, for the wrong reasons

[WATCH] Man and woman assaulting a motorist goes viral, for the wrong reasons

Khabazela shares tweets and Facebook posts that have gone viral.

Public Protector to challenge Estina Dairy Farm High Court ruling

Public Protector to challenge Estina Dairy Farm High Court ruling

Tiso Black Star's Karyn Maughan explains why the Busisiwe Mkhwebane has chosen to dispute Judge Ronel Tolmay's judgment.

What is better - money in the bank or investing in shares?

What is better - money in the bank or investing in shares?

Personal finance expert Warren Ingram offers a definitive answer with an explanation ordinary people can understand.