2019 South African general election: Analysis and News

Analysts examine whether political parties take gender equality seriously

In light of the upcoming general elections, do political parties take gender equality seriously?

To discuss this, Eusebius McKaiser facilitates a debate between panellists. They are: Gauteng provincial leader for Women Forward Thando Gumede, Soul City Institute advocacy co-ordinator Mqushulu, feminist and activist Nolwazi Tusini and gender activist and researcher Lisa Vetten.

Read: New trade union that will focus on gender equality

Empirical data and reality shows that life is horrendous for women all over the world, not least because of patriarchy and South Africa is no different.

Eusebius McKaiser, Presenter

Vetten agrees with McKaiser.

The fundamental point is that women lead lives that are not the lives of men.

Lisa Vetten, Gender activist and researcher

McKaiser says it is remarkable that the country's politics seem to render women invisible including in the upcoming elections.

Vetten adds that there is an inability to look at the gender dimensions of political lives in South Africa.

We tend to speak as if there are no women or me; we're talking about one single generic person who typically tends to be male.

Lisa Vetten, Gender activist and researcher

So we end up re-enforcing a whole range of inequalities in different subtle and not so subtle ways.

Lisa Vetten, Gender activist and researcher

Mqushulu joined the conversation and says they have an online campaign called #WhyVoteForYou to get young women's voices to be heard.

We are speaking to political parties directly, asking them why we should vote for them because this is our situation, this is our lived realities.

Hlanga Mqushulu, Advocacy coordinator - Soul City Institute

What drove us to go in that direction is because we have been on the ground with young women and experienced some of the issues that they are faced with especially at local government.

Hlanga Mqushulu, Advocacy coordinator - Soul City Institute

She adds that some of the challenges are that people don't consider gender dynamics in South African politics and it is as if everyone is equal when that is not the case.

When the government fails to provide public transport, you have to be aware of how that impacts women specifically, and young women are experiencing that in very particular ways.

Hlanga Mqushulu, Advocacy co-ordinator - Soul City Institute

It limits their ability to get to a clinic, and they will not get to a clinic at night because they must have money to ask the only person that has a car to get them to a clinic.

Hlanga Mqushulu, Advocacy co-ordinator - Soul City Institute

Tusini says, in particular the three top political parties the African National Congress (ANC) Democratic Alliance and the Economic Freedom Fighters have a lot on gender equality their manifestos.

However, if you look at the practice of political parties there is no action, and there is a huge gaping hole between who they say they are and who they are.

Nolwazi Tusini, Feminist and activist

For example, the ANC's election manifesto talks a lot about gender-based violence and ending gender-based violence, but then you have the president of the party campaigning with Zizi Kodwa who is on special leave with a rape accusation.

Nolwazi Tusini, Feminist and activist

Gumede says patriarchy is understood as a battle between men and women and that is incorrect.

Patriarchy is about taking specifically the white male able-bodied, heterosexual man and making that person sit on a pedestal above everyone else.

Thando Gumede, Gauteng provincial leader - Women Forward

What is unique in the South African context is that that superiority complex has been taken from the hands of the white man and given to the hands of the black man.

Thando Gumede, Gauteng provincial leader - Women Forward

Now black men are now the faces and owners of the system of oppression that is patriarchy in our country.

Thando Gumede, Gauteng provincial leader - Women Forward

Listen below to the full panel discussion:


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