Pretoria – The United Nations in South Africa and the Government of South Africa held a consultative stakeholder workshop to develop a UN gender programme of support for South Africa. The programme responds to South Africa’s aspirations to build a better South Africa and strengthen South Africa’s leadership on regional and global gender issues.
The workshop brought together approximately 60 people from Government, Academic Institutions and Civil Society and the UN to discuss what should constitute a UN gender programme of support to South Africa The workshop also invited gender experts such as Frene Ginwala, Pregs Govender and others who have had rich experience on gender issues in the country and region. The workshop was in partnership with the newly established Ministry for Women, Children, Youth and Persons with Disabilities. It was opened by Minister Tina Joemat-Pietersen on behalf of the women’s ministry and also included Geraldine Fraser- Moleketi, who has been Minister in South Africa and is now the Practice Director of the Democratic Governance Practice at the Bureau of Development Policy, UNDP New York.
Gender equality has always been a core value of the struggle for a democratic South Africa and is a fundamental tenet under the Bill of Rights of The Constitution of South Africa. However, gender inequality continues to undermine democracy, impede development and compromise people’s lives. For many South Africans, poverty brings social marginalization and in such conditions custom, kinship, and community are more tangible than the constitutional references to equality and human rights. Within custom and kinship structures, the role of women is tightly circumscribed and often subject to oppressive patriarchal norms. Hence while women have gained greater representation on South Africa’s political stage, this has not directly translated into an equal increase in political, social and economic power and status in the society in general.
But South Africa is in a process of transition. One of the key objectives in this process is the transformation of gender relations in which men, women, community and traditional leaders all participate to promote and support gender equity. The challenge is to shape the broad transformation project in a way which acknowledges the centrality and compatibility of the transformation of gender relations to the broader institutional change process. The roles of government, development partners such as the United Nations and civil society institutions in this are crucial as these institutions are key in the development of institutionalized social processes that truly promote UBUNTU and development for all.
The consultative stakeholder workshop took place from 28 to 30 April in the Irene Country Lodge, Irene Gauteng.
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