Most Read Contributor in South Africa, September 2016
In July 2011, it was reported that the Ministry for Women,
Children and People with Disabilities, is developing legislation to
compel the application of the principle of gender equality in South
African society. The Ministry indicated that a Gender
Equality Bill will be submitted to Cabinet by March 2012 and it
will also extend to the issue of employment and appointment of
women to senior positions in both the public and private
The Green Paper: Towards a Gender Equality Bill includes a
number of proposed objectives that bear directly on the treatment
of women in the workplace. For example, the Bill is proposed
make affirmative action mandatory for all public and private
employers as a strategy to achieve gender equality and empowerment
of women and identify mechanisms, processes and sanctions for
enforcement and accountability in relation to the goal of 50/50
make mandatory gender audits and gender analysis of
workforces and compulsory reporting on progress attained on the
same cycle as Employment Equity Act reporting and the imposition of
sanctions for non-compliance;
broaden the definition of discrimination to include a
definition of discrimination against women that encompasses
practices that are discriminatory in effect even though not
intended to discriminate (such as perceived sexual harassment);
have compulsory involvement of women in the development,
formulation, planning and implementation of policies in the
workplace in order to ensure women's representation in all
spheres and facets of workplace policy.
It is, of course, early days in relation to this proposed
legislation, but it is clear from the Green Paper that if the
Ministry is serious about the objectives, there may be a new layer
of substantive regulatory obligations (over and above Employment
Equity Act obligations) for employers to comply with in order to
propel the gendered transformation of workplaces.
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