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Gender equity bill gets thumbs down

Businesses say the Women Empowerment and Gender Equity Bill will be impossible to implement.

FILE: Businesses say the Women Empowerment and Gender Equity Bill will be impossible to implement.

CAPE TOWN - A draft law that aims to enforce women filling half the top management positions in both the public and private sectors has been given a resounding thumbs down by business.

Parliament has been holding public hearings on the Women Empowerment and Gender Equity Bill this week.

The bill was introduced by the Minister of Women, Children and People with Disabilities late in 2013 and is intended to help empower women.

Gender rights bodies have also slated the bill for excluding gay, lesbian, transgender and intersex people.

Representatives of organised business say the 50:50 clause will be impossible to implement.

Business Unity South Africa's Vanessa Phala says while the bill's intentions are good, women are not well represented in industries such as mining, engineering and construction.

"You will never find 50 percent representation in those industries."

She says business is being set up to fail.

"Business will end up being penalised for not achieving the impossible."

Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry President Janine Myburgh agrees.

"The bill is impossible to implement in its current form."

Other critics of the bill say the government should focus rather on implementing existing laws aimed to help women instead of introducing more legislation it can't give effect to.

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