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Published on 25 Aug 2017, 10:35
Parliament is hosting a two-day international conference on the theme: “Women in the Changing World of Work.” The 61st session of the Commission on the Status of Women, held at the United Nations (UN) headquarters in March 2017, had a similar theme.

Women played a key role in fighting for freedom in South Africa, in shaping our transition to democracy and in drafting our Constitution. Since democracy, there have been several advancements in women occupying leadership positions. Women head both Houses of Parliament, in May South Africa got its first female President of the Supreme Court of Appeal (Justice Mandisa Maya), about 35% of permanent judges are women and women make up about 42% of Cabinet.

In the economy, gender mainstreaming strategies and laws, like the amended Employment Equity Act, are being used to address gender disparity. However, much remains to be done and the forthcoming conference aims to inspire ways of addressing the gender inequality still present in our economy and economies worldwide.

This conference provides an opportunity to further engage on the resolutions of UN 61st session held in March 2017 and to give effect to resolutions of that session. Conference deliberations and resolutions will also feed into work of the South African Parliament in global platforms, such as, the Inter Parliamentary Union and the Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians. It is also an opportunity to enrich commitments made in international conventions and protocols aimed at eradicating poverty, educating girls and women and closing the gender gap in the economy. These conventions and protocols include the Convention on Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women, the Beijing Platform for Action and the Southern African Development Community Protocol on Gender and Development.The conference is expected to adopt a declaration that would inform discussions at the 62nd session of the Commission on the Status of Women at the UN in March 2018, from a South African and African perspective.

About 250 delegates are expected to attend the conference, including from the Pan African Women’s Organisation, trade union, business and civil society organisations, the African Peer Review Panel and Parliaments in Africa and other continents. The pre-conference workshop on 28 August will involve the joint multiparty Women’s Caucus of Parliament and the Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians. The workshop will focus on developing a programme of action for collaborative and coordinated initiatives of the South African legislative sector’s gender structures.This will feed into the discussions of the conference.
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