Gender issues are more than just about electing a female president, Minister of Women in the Presidency Susan Shabangu said on Sunday.
Addressing a media briefing at the ANC headquarters in Johannesburg, Shabangu tackled the rampant calls for a female president and the ANC’s strained efforts to meet its own 50/50 gender representation policy in all of its structures.
“The issue of candidates all revolves around the president; we don’t look at the issue of empowerment of women across the board and I think it distorts our discussions and it distorts the empowerment of women playing a key role in society as equals,” she said.
“There are women who are involved at various levels, senior positions [and they are] very competent. So I don’t think we should narrow the debate and discussion around women empowerment to just around the issue of the president.”
Shabangu urged society to put the emphasis on capability rather than gender, saying that one’s contribution to society should only be based on merit. “The reason there is an emphasis on women is precisely because of the patriarchal society we are living [in], which has left women behind; which had created laws which undermine women.”
The briefing was held by the ANC’s NEC members serving on the Social Transformation Committee to discuss its policy proposals in the lead-up to this year’s fifth ANC policy conference.
The committee’s chair and Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu raised several key policy issues to be discussed in the course of the year, including the contentious phenomenon of “vote buying”. Echoing statements she had made last week regarding the issue, she said it would be discussed by the committee as part of its social cohesion mandate.
Sisulu also addressed the controversial concept of “radical economic transformation”, which appears in many of the party’s policy discussion documents. “From a social transformation perspective, I am very bold to declare what we mean by radical transformation,” Sisulu said at the gathering.
She said what it would constitute was a shift away from a mindset of peaceful and consensual cohabitation to one of dealing decisively with all forms of discrimination, with education at the forefront.