Gender bill 'weak on enforcement'

The Legal Resources Centre says implementation of the gender equality bill will be difficult.


CAPE TOWN - The Legal Resources Centre says the Women Empowerment and Gender Equality Bill falls short of what it sets out to achieve.

The bill requires "designated private and public bodies" to employ more women, especially in top positions, with a target of at least 50 percent representation.

Parliament's Portfolio Committee on Women, Children and People with Disabilities adopted the bill this week, taking it a step closer to becoming law.

The bill is intended to address gender imbalances in top decision-making positions and structures in both the public and private sector.

It is the latest in a raft of legislation meant to address inequality in the work place.

Despite other laws, the bill expects designated public and private bodies to develop and implement plans to ultimately achieve a target of at least a 50 percent representation of women in top posts, including boards.

This also applies to political parties.

The Legal Resources Centre's Charlene May says implementation will be difficult.

"There is nothing that says people are going to be obligated all of a sudden to do something about gender equality. They are just going to have to draft policies."

She says the bill is weak on enforcement.

"There is no enforcement mechanism in the bill. The minister is going to call people to try and mediate and discuss the implementation of their policies."

The business sector had previously voiced concern that a minimum of 50 percent target of female representation is "unattainable".