#TimesUp for failing feminist governance

30 August 2019 - The clock is now also running out for the South African government’s lack of womxn-centric policy and action as a new analysis released today indicates the lack of feminist governance should have its own #TimesUp moment.

The Womxn and Democracy Initiative at the Dullah Omar Institute today launched the second leg of its project on feminist governance that tracks how government plans and performance targets speak to the lived realities of womxn. The first leg of this research provided an analysis of how the ANC, DA, EFF and the Women Forward Party dealt with gender in a way that transcends the traditional focus on gender-based violence and gender quotas in their 2019 election manifestos. The analysis explored the treatment of womxn by parties in all areas – from job creation, minimum wages and the wage gap, to land, housing, education, health and social security.

In this phase of the project, the intersectional gendered lens shifted to the latest available Annual Performance Plans and Budget Votes speeches (2019/20) of key ministries with the potential to make a real difference in the lives of womxn. The WDI released the first batch that includes the Department of Women, Youth and People with Disabilities and the Department of Social Development. A feminist analysis of other ministries will be released in batches over the following weeks.

WDI Researcher Vivienne Mentor-Lalu said the project on feminist governance aims to increase a political focus on realising womxn’s and gender rights through infusing systematic feminist analysis and strategy into questions of governance and leadership. “The aim is to consistently track these departments and the political leadership over time to increase public pressure on them to be more responsive to a fesminist agenda for governance that embodies the values of the Constitution towards realising womxn’s civil, political and socio-economic rights and gender justice.”

The reports on the first two departments fail to inspire much confidence that government performance plans and targets, set for this financial year, will meaningfully shift womxn from the periphery of the economy and decision-making structures, towards more womxn-centric policy and action. Often the APP’s do not reflect the political statements and commitments made by the ministers in the budget vote speeches. In her budget vote speech, the Minister of Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities Maite Nkoana-Mashabane acknowledges how critical womxn’s access to land is for their economic empowerment and states that this must be addressed urgently. However, despite this, the sentiment is not reflected anywhere in the departmental plans and key performance indicators.

The analysis of these documents shows that departments do not necessarily lack information on what the issues are facing womxn and thus cannot plead ignorance, but government still is not coherently demonstrating this in policy, resource allocation and action. According to WDI researcher Motlatsi Komoti this raises concern around issues of political will. 

The WDI’s analysis also raises serious concerns over government departments’ quality of reporting on performance plans and targets. Said Mentor-Lalu: “The APP’s and budget vote speeches are official documents in which departments communicate their plans publicly, yet the quality of reporting is very concerning. The framing of information in these documents are not only confusing but wholly incomplete to get a proper understanding of the departments’ plans and how it will affect womxn.” According to Mentor-Lalu the information provided is often reduced to a cut and paste exercise, which seems like a deliberate attempt to obfuscate. “This has severe implications for the public and Parliament’s ability to hold departments accountable.”

Komote said it is envisaged that this analysis will provide information against which to hold Ministers and departments accountable and to advocate for feminist governance that speaks to the lived realities of womxn. END

For comment or enquiries contact:

  • Vivienne Mentor-Lalu – 082 494 0788
  • Motlatsi Komote – 072 872 2200

Reports can be found here.

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