The Deputy President said this when he appeared before the for a question and answer session on Wednesday.
Deputy President Ramaphosa had been asked whether government is engaging political parties and civil society organisations on their role in ensuring that the nation achieves gender parity political decision-making ahead of the 2015 deadline for achieving the 28 targets of the SADC Gender Protocol.
“As we prepare for the 2016 local government elections, we would like to urge all parties to demonstrate political will, political commitment and take decisive measures to ensure equal representation of men and women in the selection of candidates.
“This is a golden opportunity that we all have as political parties to make sure that we make the representation of women in political decision making structures of our country a reality and that we must move beyond lip service and make sure that it happens,” he said.
The Deputy President said ever since the achievement of democracy in 1994, South Africa has made great strides in advancing the participation of women in various political decision-making structures across the board.
He said South Africa’s approach to gender parity is informed by the founding principles that are enshrined in the Constitution.
The approach is also in line with the SADC protocol on gender and development, the Deputy President said.
He said South Africa has, in addition, enacted a legislation and undertaken measures to promote gender equality in the political process.
The Electoral Act, he added, requires that every registered party and candidate facilitate a full equal participation of women in activities of political parties.
“They must ensure free access of women to all public political meetings, marches, demonstrations and rallies.
“More directly, the Local Government Municipal Structures Act requires that every party must seek to ensure that 50% of the candidates of the lists are women and that female and male candidates are evenly distributed on the lists.
“Such measures have achieved positive results.”
The Deputy President said the proportion of women represented in the National Assembly increased from a mere 3% in 1994 to 41% in 2014, which he said, was a phenomenal achievement.
According to the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), the proportion of women candidates standing for national and provincial elections increased from 27% in 1999 to 31% in 2004, to 39% in 2009, to 40% in 2014.
The Deputy President said, however, that it was clear that the achievement of gender parity will not be achieved only through the enactment of the legislation.
“All social partners need to work together to achieve real gender equality in the political process. At the same time, we need to ensure that the progress that we make in the political sphere is matched by progress in such areas as education, in health, in the economy and indeed in all spheres of South African lives.”