Gender Gap Narrowing In Africa: Experts

Category: Media & Culture / Mar 08, 2013 1:17PM EDT
Women's rights in South Africa witnessed notable improvement over the years, experts said prior to the International Women's Day on Friday. As March 8 marks the International Women's Day across the world, it has been reported that South Africa has plenty of reasons to celebrate the day thanks to its achievement in closing down the gender gap. Statistics show that more than half of South Africa's 52 million people are female. And since the dawn of democracy in 1994, numerous laws have been adopted to protect the rights of the country's female population. South Africa has a National Ministry of Women, scores of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and Commission for Gender Equality (CGE), an independent chapter nine institution in the country, as it endeavors to promote the human rights of women enshrined in their constitution. "Although historically speaking, women were non-existent, you know in terms of governance issues. But I think, we are moving slowly in that direction, making smaller efforts and making strides, to allow women, to give them the space to participate meaningfully," said Mvuleni Tshazibana from the South African Commission for Gender Equality (CGE). Many now believe that South African women are in fact playing meaningful roles in the government, private sector and the judiciary. That number has revealed that 45 percent of the ministers in the South African Parliament are actually women. However, Lisa Vetten, an activist for women's rights, believed that it was not the quantity that mattered but rather the quality. "We do have a number of women in parliament, third-highest in the world. But I mean if, again, you have to ask, how much of what we've done is cosmetic, as opposed to having depth and substance, and is life-changing and transformative. It seems to me, that's where we've got stuck right now," said Lisa Vetta. Tshazibana admitted much of work was to be done in the country's efforts to fill the gender gap, and with equal importance, increasing the contributes of women to the local economy remained a priority. Karima Brown, a journalist and a CNBC Africa anchor, expressed her confidence in the continuous improvement of South African women's rights. Brown, who has just been appointed chief editor of Forbes Women in South Africa, is deemed as one of the success stories of an African woman overcoming immense challenges. She said African women do "not stand behind anyone" and "are right out in front." She said her magazine would celebrate the great strides made by African women, and also note their struggle, which can prove inspiring to others. "Our ambition is not to be suits with lipstick. Our ambition is to change, fundamentally, the nature of the relations between men and women. And to engender a sense of solidarity, a sense of common bonds between men and women. The Forbes Women is beautiful, strong, articulate, grounded, trailblazers, smart, ambitious, powerful, compassionate and believes that she can be anything that she wants to be," Karima Brown stated. (Video Source: REUTERS)