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The Star (South Africa) 

More women clinching top posts
By Eleanor Momberg
April 21, 2004

The government has made significant strides towards reaching its target of having 30 percent of its senior posts filled by women.

The mark was set two years ago. "We have breached the psychological 20 percent mark," Public Service and Administration Minister Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi said on Tuesday.

"As of March 2004, 24,5 percent of all management posts in the public service were occupied by women," she told parliamentarians and businesswomen at a lunch in Pretoria hosted by first lady Zanele Mbeki.

Of these posts, 18,5 percent were filled by black women.

Fraser-Moleketi said the province with the least number of women in senior public service posts was the Western Cape, with only 17,8 percent .

Referring to the African National Congress's election victory in the province, she said: "I am sure that situation is about to change."

Gauteng had out-performed all other provinces, having filled 29 percent of its management posts with women, followed by Limpopo and Mpumalanga with 28 percent each.

The number of women in parliament is set to increase from 120 to 131, a 10 percent increase, according to calculations by Gender Links.

With a National Assembly of 400 seats, this will result in an overall proportion of 32,8 percent women in parliament, compared to 30 percent in 1999.

South Africa will now move up in the global ranking of women in parliament from 15th to 11th place, coming after Austria and slightly ahead of Germany. Rwanda, with 49 percent, is in the top position in the global league.

But Minister in the Presidency Essop Pahad said a lot more needed to be done to increase the number of female parliamentary representatives.

He believed a quota system should be introduced in the new parliament forcing political parties and parliamentary committees to have at least a 30 percent female representation.

"We have to seriously consider this," he said.

The local government elections, scheduled for next year, also needed to focus on women representatives, not only on the proportional representation lists drawn up by contesting parties, but also as far as ward representation was concerned.

South Africa, however, had made tremendous strides in the past 10 years in addressing issues such as the emancipation of women, empowerment of women and gender equity.

Zanele Mbeki said that in the past 10 years the country had seen women holding traditionally male-dominated positions in the cabinet, and men holding, for example, the arts and culture portfolio.

The gender barrier, she said, would always have to be fought. Women continued to have contact with the poorest of the poor and did not forget the non-governmental organisations they represented, she added.

Being elected or appointed to more senior positions, including parliament, did not change that.


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