Local Government has a significant role to play in the achievement of government's goal of "a better life for all." If Local Government were to effectively facilitate the social and economic development of communities and households, the quality of life of all citizens would progressively improve.
Women in South Africa comprise 54% of the total population. If empowered, women can serve as a critical force or driver in the social and economic development of communities and the country in general. Women's empowerment entails addressing issues of gender inequality that exclude and disadvantage women. Gender inequality manifests itself in numerous ways. These include differences between men and women in respect of, among others, access to opportunities, resources and tools of economic advancement and access to basic human rights. Consequently, women as a group have tended to lag behind their male counterparts with regard to achieving their life goals.
The Beijing Platform for Action (1995) advanced gender mainstreaming as a strategy for achieving gender equality. For Local Government, this means that gender considerations have to inform our Integrated Development Planning processes, our budgeting, programme implementation as well as monitoring, evaluation and reporting. For every policy or strategy that we develop and for every initiative that we implement, we have to ask ourselves what its implications for women and men are.
This Gender Policy Framework has been developed to provide guidance and support to the sector around gender mainstreaming and women's empowerment. It has as its pillars the Local Government Strategic Agenda, and the National Policy for Women's Empowerment and Gender Equality. This document outlines a framework for gender mainstreaming within local governement. It provides guidelines for the dplg, the provincial departments of local government, SALGA, tradional leaders as well as municipalities in playing their respective roles with regards to gender mainstreaming.
We hope that the Framework will go a long way in assisting Local Government deliver on its developmental mandate, taking into account women's and men's concerns and experiences so thatwomen and men can benefit equitably from development initiatives.