Big political parties made promises ahead of the elections, but will this guarantee a better South Africa for women?
But will these promises be kept once the results are in? A recently published study revealed is less than optimistic that parties will deliver once the results are in.
According to IOL, the study by the Dullah Omar Institute's for Women and Democracy Initiative (WDI) was published using a feminist analysis, which interrogated each of South Africa's biggest political parties' manifestos - the parties in question being the African National Congress (ANC), the Democratic Alliance (DA), and the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF).
In the months leading up to our national elections which took place on 8 May 2019, parties held rallies, placed billboards and placards along almost every road, and held manifesto launches all in a bid to win the votes of South Africans to whom they had made promises.
For women, in particular, there have been promises of gender equality, the end of gender-based violence as well as more jobs for the youth; all of which are pleasing to the desperate ears of women hungry for change.
To better assess the promise-to-delivery ratio, True Love Magazine broke down each party's list of women-oriented goals as follows:
- Advance women’s access to land and participation in agriculture and rural economies.
- Call for stricter bail conditions and harsher sentences in combating violence against women.
- Develop a plan to take care of the first 1000 days of human life, from pregnancy until two years of age, in which the pregnant mother will get good nutrition, and undertake antenatal care visits.
- Introduce legislation to protect job-seekers who are vulnerable to coerced transactional sex requests.
- Increase the child grant.
- Implement an electronic tracking system for domestic violence complaints to enable the tracking of perpetrators and victims across police station
- Redistribute a minimum of 50% of the land to be controlled by women and the youth.
- Pass legislation that ensures a minimum wage of R4 500 across the board for all full-time workers.
- Introduce a special inspectorate in the Department of Labour to monitor, report on and enforce gender parity and equality in the workplace.
How the WDI study was conducted
Because the current state of South Africa's governance leaves a lot to be desired - especially for women - these promises sound rather sweet. And the vigour with which they have been delivered almost make it seem like they are a certainty in the near future.
Unfortunately, the WDI's study disagrees that our political parties can actually deliver anything they have presented to the country's more vulnerable demographic groups.
This is based on the following thematic issues they used to weigh up against each party's individual promise to women:
1. Party track record in advancing and advocating for gender justice.
2. The quality of its analysis in the party's manifesto, especially relating to the patriarchy.
3. The specificity of each promise and how it plans to manifest this promise in detail.
4. Whether or not each party has allocated budgets to each of the promises it plans on fulfilling.
5. How each party plans to implement each plan of action with transparency and accountability.
After putting these guidelines in place, and scrutinising what each party said they would deliver, the WDI found that all three major opposition parties had made a better than before effort to include issues facing women in their manifestos.
However, they also found that most of the promises had been recycled from previous manifestos, which they had failed to acted on post-election.
Let's take a look at how each of the three parties fared in this study:
Findings on the ANC
The study found that while the ANC has improved their strategy to include more conversation around how women's lives in SA will be changed, they failed to clearly explain how they will be implementing their plans.
The study also mentions that past efforts made by the ANC to combat gender-based violence had not been carried through successfully.
“Overall the manifesto is weak in its recognition of, or strategies to address, the systematic and structural discrimination of womxn, patriarchy, sexism and male dominance," the report reveals.
The WDI's report adds that “at this point, we would expect to see the ANC grappling in different ways with the rights violations, exclusions and failures of social justice that have persisted. It does not."
Findings on the DA
The study found that while the DA does promise to combat issues such as gender-based violence and the country's inclusion of the LGBTQ community, they still leave a lot to be desired with regards to other issues women are faced with.
“Womxn are mainly considered in the section dealing with gender-based violence and are often mentioned in their normalised role as [nurturers] of children. This indicates a lack of understanding or a refusal to acknowledge womxn as a category deserving full consideration and inclusion in plans and promises throughout the manifesto.
“The Democratic Alliance appears to be gender blind in all facets of the manifesto. Womxn are only mentioned in regard to gender-based violence or in connection with children, but never on their own [sic]," notes the report.
In response to the WDI's report on the DA, the party's director of communications Mabine Seabe, told W24 the following;
“It is untrue to say that the Democratic Alliance is gender blind. As a public server, it’s good nature is to make sure women in SA are uplifted. Issues such as gender-based violence and gender equality were at the forefront of our manifesto."
Findings on the EFF
With regards to the EFF, the study found that this party has been successful in addressing issues around gender-based violence and gender justice, and has attributed this to the fact that the EFF is a relatively new party and is thus able to keep up with the ever-growing feminist movement in South Africa.
While, according to the study, the EFF was able to more clearly touch on issues related to gender justice, the party failed to specify how it was going to implement most of its promises. As a result, the study notes that the EFF needs a significant investment in order to be able to actually implement each promise.
"Although the EFF’s 2019 manifesto is arguably one of the more detailed manifestos, their larger than life offering demands more than being short on detail. There is not much of clear sense on how their policy positions and commitments will be both implemented and seen through, as would be the expectation for a party which is preparing to govern," the WDI highlights.
"Even where they do extend a sufficient feminist-leaning analysis, this is undermined by their lack of budgeting considerations and cost calculations, which would lend their stance to the side of genuine commitment as opposed to more political rhetoric, as is the expectation with most parties," reads the report.
The results of the study leave quite a bitter taste in one's mouth, especially now that our thumbs are already inked. But it's also important to note that each party has made individual progress - no matter how small.
Now we can only hope that more women will occupy seats in parliament in order to ensure that more of our voices are heard.
The EFF and the ANC could could not be reached for comment at the time of publication.
Disclaimer: News24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24.
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