DDP Staff, Board member, Associate facilitators and partners at the Women's conference 2023.
On 8 August 2023, DDP hosted its annual Women’s Conference in celebration of South Africa’s Women’s Month. The Conference this year was led by the theme: The politics of gender representation in the democratic society – exploring proactive strategies for enhancing gender representation in the legislature.
The ongoing debate around issues of gender representation, specifically looking at the equality of women through legislation in the 21st century is of paramount importance. Although there has been progress through affirmative action, but the society is still dominated by patriarchal values. It is therefore important that we assess the misrepresentation of women’s contribution in history, through their role in the liberation struggle for freedom, which is largely ignored in history texts. The recorded and published historical books focus heavily on white political development to the detriment of studies of the history and interaction of whites with other racial groups, also focusing on the achievements of men (often on their military exploits or leadership ability) virtually leaving women out of the significant recordings of the South African history. This therefore makes the conversation about the politics of gender representation important, especially because there are significant similarities surrounding this subject matter with women across all generations.
Key speakers for this event included Dr. Devi Rajab, DDP Board Chairperson; Hon. Celiwe Madlopha, Chairperson of the KZN Legislature, Women Parliamentary Caucus and; Ms Azania Zuma, Political Activists. Some of the key discussion areas at the conferences included the following commissions:
Strengthening Women’s Political Representation and Electoral Participation
This commission discussed strengthening women’s political participation and positioning women in positions of power where policy decisions are being championed. Participants worked unpack how to advocate for the implementation of support systems during election campaigns that would assist women during raging political processes. The delegates discussed strengthening networks of female parliamentarians e.g., parliamentary caucuses and forums (Case Study of KZN Women’s Caucus).
Raising Awareness on the rights of women as politicians and leaders
This commission discussed enhancing intergenerational collaboration and accountability toward a more just, sustainable, and equal society for all. Discuss here championed on on gender equality issues, women’s engagement in different disciplines, challenges, and opportunities. And also raise awareness on the rights of women, gender-based violence and any issues that affect women’s progress.
Conclusions and Way forward
Delegates offered the following key insights from the discussions that were had in the room:
It is important to gain insight into the progress made towards achieving women empowerment and overcoming stereotypes about women’s role in society.
There need to be work done to gain better understanding of ways gender equality in politics and governance can be realized through strengthening networks of female caucuses across sectors including legislature in South Africa.
There is a call that women are represented in the political and electoral environment, mitigating potential risks during turbulent political processes, and the strategies for mitigating against risks of under-representation in political parties and legislatures.
Rise Mzansi KZN Convener, Nonkululeko Hlongwane-Mhlongo, IFP President VF Hlabisa, DDP's Partner Liaison and Development Officer Mbalenhle Mkhize and Executive Director Dr. Paul Kariuki at the DDP Civic Education Conference.