SA political party manifestos not doing enough for women, research shows

SA political party manifestos not doing enough for women, research shows

Woman Forward leader Nana Ngobese wants the practice of ukuthwala stopped. Photo: Molaole Montsho

‘Women are fed-up and need more than politicians paying lip service to issues that are important to them,’ says an advocacy officer.

As South Africa gears up for elections on May 8, new research based on a feminist analysis of party manifestos shows that none of the top three political movements will make a real difference in the lives of women, said the Dullah Omar Institute’s Women and Democracy Initiative (WDI).

The report focused on the ruling African National Congress (ANC), the main opposition Democratic Alliance (DA), the up and coming Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) and the Women Forward Party, looking at the treatment of women in job creation, wages, access to land, housing, education, health and social security.

“Grandstanding on gender during elections is the norm, with parties often taking the over-promise and underdeliver route,” the report said.

WDI research and advocacy officer Motlatsi Komote said after 25 years of democracy and with more than 55% of eligible voters being women, political parties should be doing a lot more to dismantle structural gender inequalities.

“Women are fed-up and need more than politicians paying lip service to issues that are important to them,” Komote said.

The WDI said overall the ANC’s manifesto took a stronger line than previously on patriarchy and gender-based violence, but its strategies to address the discrimination against women across all areas, including on gender-based violence, were either thin or absent.

“Commitments made are more of the same, unspecific, and not addressing the barriers to delivery that the party has had 25 years to grapple with,” it added.

It said the DA’s manifesto suggested the party was deliberately gender-blind.

“It totally disregards gender in its understanding and planning. Women are mainly considered in the section dealing with gender-based violence and are often mentioned in their normalised role as the carers of children,” it said.

“This indicates a lack of understanding or a refusal to acknowledge women as a category deserving full consideration and inclusion in plans and promises throughout the manifesto.”

The EFF was successful in addressing issues of concern in a social-justice sense, but was less successful in giving a fair and well thought out analysis from a gender perspective, the WDI said.

“They do not seem to value gender parity beyond very limited specific targets in the financial sector, and a vague mention of a quota system across the board,” it said.

The report singled out Women Forward as the only party with an exclusive focus on women, but said its manifesto missed the mark on providing direction on how it would address poverty or economic reform.

–  African News Agency

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