Hon Speaker and hon members, the political rights of women are relegated to the back burner in all political parties. Gender equality is reduced to representations. In government, in other instances, that representation is zero.
The question that begs an answer is whether those few women in leadership positions are taken seriously by their counterparts. Do they really make decisions or do they simply take decisions made by their counterparts and run with them?
The political rights of women, like those of all the citizens in our land, are enshrined in section 19 of the Constitution, but few women occupy leadership positions. In South Africa we have been reading comments, especially from women leaders, on how South Africa is not ready for a woman president. This is in total contrast to the vision and mission of the women of 1956. This argument is not supported by what is happening internationally.
Clause 7 of this Bill speaks against the domination of the majority by the minority in all spheres of life. In South Africa, the 52% of women are dominated by a mere 48% of men. What is wrong with wanting to correct that? Why is it politically incorrect in South Africa to have 50% representation in a constitutional democracy? In Nairobi, Kenya, more than 400 young women drawn from various political parties held a demonstration to petition the registrar of political parties and the justice minister to ensure that at least 50% of all elective and appointive positions are allocated to them.
According to the principal State Law Adviser there is no right in the Constitution that is absolute. Cope would like to remind the House that according to section 8(1) of the Constitution:
The Bill of Rights applies to all law, and binds the legislature, the executive, the judiciary and all organs of state.
This includes, amongst other things, the addressing and redressing of gender disparities in the academic landscape of our country, which is still male-dominated.
Cope supports the Bill. I thank you. [Applause.]