This article was written by Amelia Berman, an associate at Norton Rose Fulbright South Africa

The Women Empowerment and Gender Equality Act makes every day women’s equality day. The Act provides that the private sector as well as public bodies must progressively realise the target of 50% representation of women in decision-making positions.

The Act applies to all public bodies and private bodies designated by the Minister.  It is not yet clear as to who will be affected by this Act because the Minister will still need to determine which sectors and bodies will be designated.

A notable feature requires gender mainstreaming. Gender mainstreaming will require designated bodies to take into consideration the different interests and concerns of different genders and age groups when making political, economic or societal decisions.

Designated employers will be required to implement plans, policies and budgets aimed at gender mainstreaming, for example measures aimed at reducing disparities between men and women in the workplace.  The process will be similar to submitting employment equity plans in terms of the Employment Equity Act, 1998.

The Act was passed by the National Assembly on 4 March 2014 just in time for International Women’s day on 8 March 2014. Let’s all hope that it is enacted soon.

This is a welcome promotion of the rights and freedoms of women required by the Bill of Rights.

If you are interested in hearing more about this Act, listen to Joe Mothibi who was interviewed by Classic FM on this topic.

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