Mon. Apr 15th, 2024

National Assembly (NA) Speaker, Ms Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula implored representatives of world parliaments to use their influence to defend democracy and promote gender mainstreaming, particularly in economic development.

Speaker Mapisa-Nqakula was addressing a moderated debate during a parliamentary event that was organised by the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) and the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN-Women), under the theme, “Gender-sensitive parliaments: Advancing gender equality to end poverty”.

The two-week-long 68th Session (CSW68) that concludes on 22 March provides an important platform for bringing a parliamentary perspective into its discussions on women.

During the debate, the Speaker said parliaments represent the hopes and aspirations of citizens, the majority of whom, based on global statistics, are women. “It is in this context that the empowerment of women and girls must find expression in our democracies and continue to grow and mature”, she said.

Ms Mapisa-Nqakula stressed that legislatures have power and influence at their disposal. She urged them to use their authority to foster equality by encouraging governments to embrace gender-sensitive budgeting. She said parliaments are midwives that facilitate the birth of governments after they are elected by citizens, the majority of whom are women.

“With centuries of patriarchy and women exclusion, as well as discrimination, changing the status quo would require much more than what we have been doing,” she said.

The Speaker called on women parliamentarians attending the CSW68 Session to use their majority to vote against budgets that are not sympathetic to the plight of women until governments start listening.

She commended the progress made through equitable representation of women in parliaments and governments in Africa. However, she decried that these performance outputs are yet to produce the desired impact in many areas of development, particularly poverty reduction.

Parliaments have a civic and constitutional duty to use its oversight and accountability mandate to reverse years of exclusion of women. Speaker Mapisa-Nqakula said if world parliaments fulfil their responsibility as agents of social change diligently, parliaments could undo or reverse historical inequities. Parliaments can help build truly just and developmental societies where women and girls enjoy a life free of poverty and related social ills, she said.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Republic of South Africa: The Parliament.

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