The Women’s Empowerment and Gender Equality Bill is being considered by parliament and is an effort by the state to address the significant gender inequalities and violations of the rights of women, girls and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered and intersex (LGBTI) people that persist in South Africa.
While this sounds like a good thing, the bill will achieve very little in its current form to address the inequality and disempowerment of women and of gender non-conforming groups in South Africa because it contains no provision to challenge or address patriarchal value systems in South Africa.
South Africa remains a deeply patriarchal society, none of the initiatives to date have shifted the secondary status and subservient place that most women and girls continue to experience in their homes, community structures or the workplace. The lower value placed on women and girls in relation to men and boys in almost all settings of their lives underpins the persistence of discrimination, violation and injustice experienced by women.
Although parts of the WE&GE Bill provide an important foundation for future legislation promoting gender equality, significant revision of other parts is essential to ensure that the proposed legislation does not duplicate existing legislation and further strain limited resources.
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