The day of the national elections on 22 April 2019 was one of the most important days for South Africans this year. Followed by the members of Parliament being sworn in and subsequently the president’s inauguration, it’s necessary to take a closer look at how many representatives are women.   

All the major political parties had a part of their manifestos dedicated to how to address issues that affect women in the country.

A key point to consider when implementing tasks to improve the issues facing women in the country is how diverse the leadership is.

The top executive of the major political parties does not reflect South Africa’s gender demographics - not by far for some - but how are women represented in Parliament as a whole?

After all the swearing-in ceremonies into Parliament this week, this is what the numbers say:

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According to the World Economic Forum’s global ranking, South African had the tenth most number of women in Parliament before this year’s elections – sitting at 42.7%.

Post elections, our Parliament sees women making up 44% of members.

According to a tally by Genderlinks, there have been a handful of parties that have declining numbers in the amount of women representatives it selected as members of Parliament (MPs). The ANC – which holds the majority seats in Parliament – has 49% women representatives and is down two less from the previous election, the Economic Freedom Fighters has 47% women representatives and the Democratic Alliance (DA) has 36%.

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Besides the overall increase in the number of women in Parliament following this year’s election, another notable point is the number of young women that have been selected as MPs.

Involving the youth in key decision-making roles has been a box to tick for South Africa’s political parties as well. Considering the much-criticised national youth definition of 35 years old and younger, before this election, Parliament only had - according to the parliamentary monitoring group - 6% of youth in the whole of Parliament, of which 56% were women.

Previously the DA’s Hlomela Bucwa has long made headlines about being the youngest MP when she was 24 years old. This year, she is joined by #feesmustfall activists Naledi Chirwa and Nompendulo Mkhatshwa, both 25 years old.

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Following Dr Nkosozana Dlamini-Zuma competing for the presidential post of the ANC, there also seems to be high optimism for having more women in top political positions.

Pending the president’s announcement of his cabinet, and the anticipated announcement of a deputy president, South Africans on social media have taken it upon themselves to nominate ‘potential’ elects for deputy president, including former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela, minister of higher education Naledi Pandor, former international relations minister Lindiwe Sisulu, minister in the presidency Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.

But does this mean that there is a growing appetite for women leaders in South Africa? Let us know what your thoughts are here.

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