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Gender mainstreaming in the South African national department of social development : a policy analysis.

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Gender inequality remains the greatest challenge for many societies and this has implications for the sustainable development and well-being of societies. There exists gender inequalities with regards to access to resources such as land, healthcare, credit, information, education and decision-making power between races and between the sexes. The advent of democracy brought freedom for all South Africans and the new government understood gender inequality as a deterrent to the achievement of sustainable development for all and the building of a democratic state. The National Policy Framework for Women‟s Empowerment and Gender Equality provides a roadmap through which gender should be mainstreamed within government and elsewhere towards achieving the goal of gender equality. It stresses that the shift from inequality to equality requires the transformation of government and civil society. The efforts of the Department of Social Development towards gender mainstreaming are premised in this national framework. The purpose of the present research is to ascertain whether and how gender is being mainstreamed in the National Department of Social Development (DSD), specifically looking at the conceptualization, management and structures in place for gender mainstreaming. This is a qualitative research analysis, using in-depth interviews as primary data collection methods, as well as a review of official gender mainstreaming documents of the DSD. Eighteen officials in middle management from all the different branches (reflected in the organogram in Figure 1) of DSD were selected. Middle management refers to staff that have the rank of Assistant and Deputy- Director. These are members of staff who are directly involved in policy implementation and, in many instances, contribute to the development of policies. The findings indicate that the implementation of gender mainstreaming is varied in the Department, with considerable success towards the attainment of employment equity target of 50/50 women representation in senior management. According to the DSD Employment Equity Report 2007/2008, women constituted 48% of senior managers. The official reports of the DSD point to progress being made in gender mainstreaming within the Department. This includes working towards approving a range of service delivery policies that address concerns of women and men, in intensifying service provision to respond to people‟s vulnerabilities and to ensure sustainable development of communities. The respondents in this study argued that policy commitments to gender equality are not supported by political and administrative will and necessary resources. The majority of the respondents did not know that there was a Gender Focal Point, whose responsibility is the facilitation of gender mainstreaming in the Department. They struggled to define basic gender concepts with gender mainstreaming, mainly understood to be employment equity. The respondents were also not conversant with the Gender Mainstreaming Guidelines and did not know what is needed in implementing gender mainstreaming. The gap between the official reports of the Department on successful gender mainstreaming implementation and the negative perspectives of the respondents needs further investigation.


Thesis (M.Soc.Sc.)-University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg, 2010.


Theses--Policy and development studies., Gender mainstreaming., Women--Employment--South Africa.