Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Gender laws to force women into leading government positions

With the latest local government (municipal) elections (LGE2011), less women have been voted into local government as city or town councillors (38%) than in 2006 (40%). According to News24, in an article called “Disappointment at election gender figures,” the Ministry for Women, Children and People with Disabilities, said yesterday that it is “disappointed at the decline in the percentage of women as councillors in the country from 40% in 2006 to 38% after the 2011 local government elections.” Women's Minister Lulu Xingwana also said: “We are developing the necessary legislation which should compel all political parties to adhere to the principle of gender equality. The Gender Equality Bill will be submitted to Cabinet by March 2012 and it will also extend to the issue of employment and appointment of women to senior positions in both the public and private sector.”

I have a real problem with laws created for a certain subsection of society, as if existing laws are not adequate. All of society must live according to the same laws. Crimes committed must be punished by the same laws, for instance. Now, these special interest groups want to create laws for a certain subsection of society to elevate them into positions simply because they are part of that subsection, in this case women, all under the guise of equality.

The problem with quotas, and elevating one group over others, is that in the end it simply does not work. It simply cannot deliver the end result! The end result is good service and good governance.


Firstly, through quotas, many more qualified, and better equipped people are overlooked, simply because they are not from the preferred group, whether skin colour or gender!

Secondly, in the area of politics, democracy is the real loser. More viable and stronger political candidates are removed from the people’s choices, simply because more women, or more people of a different skin colour must make it onto the voting lists. This robs the voter of better choices to vote for, and essentially democracy cannot work if the voter does not have the best possible willing people to stand in their respective constituencies.

Thirdly, there are already existing laws that may be appealed to if anyone is passed over for a job or position simply because they are of a certain group. If anyone in this country feels that he/she has missed an opportunity because of gender, there are laws that can be used to fight a biased decision. In chapter 2 of the South African Constitution (SACon), the Bill of Rights, section 9.1 it says:

“Everyone is equal before the law and has the right to equal protection and benefit of the law.”
In points 3 & 4 it says that the state or any other person
“may not unfairly discriminate directly or indirectly against anyone on one or more grounds, including race, gender, sex, pregnancy, marital status, ethnic or social origin, colour, sexual orientation, age, disability, religion, conscience, belief, culture, language and birth.”
So, under SACon, we all have equal standing already, and no one may be discriminated against. In my opinion, creating laws to specifically advance one group over another is discrimination in itself. Once again, discrimination becomes entrenched in the law, like it was under the apartheid government before 1994.

Fourthly, quotas will ensure a lower level of expertise and knowledge in respective jobs and governmental positions, and a diminished capacity to deliver quality service. By putting people in jobs simply because of their gender, and not because of their expertise and capabilities, quality cannot be ensured at any level in private or state business!

According to Gender Links, a research and advocacy organisation, parties that do not specifically mention how they will advance the cause of women in leadership positions are “gender blind.” In my opinion, Gender Links, and the ANC, are “gender obsessed!”

Gender Links said about the DA, that they make “no mention of women in their entire manifesto.” Perhaps Gender Links missed the point, but could the reason for that “glaring” omission perhaps be that the DA already see all people as equal, and do not see the reason why women should be elevated above men? Also, maybe they think that each person must work for what they get on their own merit, and not ride on the coat tails of a gender specific law without merit! Gender Links also felt that the focus of the DA, in their election manifesto, on service delivery and reducing crime, should have mentioned how “improved service delivery would affect the lives of women.” This is beyond ridiculous and borders on the insane! Is it not obvious how “improved service delivery would affect the lives of women?” Women would get exactly the same benefits as any other being on this planet from improved service delivery and reduced crime. Should the DA spell out the benefits for whites, blacks; men, women; old people, young people; law-abiding citizens, criminals; etc., simply to satisfy people obsessed with their differences from others?

Gender Links had similar comments against the FF+, ACDP and the IFP.

The way to advance certain so-called disadvantaged groups is not to disadvantage another group in order to accomplish your ideals. It makes me think of two five year olds who are having a tiff. The one takes from the other, and then that one takes from the first one. Of course, we know that five year olds can be very persevering when it comes to things like this. This is unacceptable, and merely “bratish”!

We are facing this “bratish” situation right now. The government now wants to step in and take from men because they have “disadvantaged” women somehow, and give to women. This is merely theft by decree!

Equality can never be achieved by disadvantaging one group over another. We have seen clearly how that worked in the National Party apartheid state before 1994. Of course, in the minds of entities like Gender Links and the Women’s Minister, this is exactly how equality will be established. The problem, of course, is that women will just be more equal than men!

True equality comes when each person has the same opportunity for the same jobs or positions. Equality does not mean each person has the same rights to the same jobs or positions. That would be totally insane. In the real world, I do not have the same rights to be an astrophysicist as someone who has actually studied and passed at university at that level. But, what true equality means is that all things being equal, we all have the same opportunities to the same jobs or positions. That means, if John and Sipho have the same qualifications, and in all respects they have the same merit for a job, then they both have the same opportunity for that job. In the end, the employer must choose the person who will best fit the position on merit, and cannot deny either John or Sipho on the basis of skin colour. The scenario will be exactly the same if the two people applying were John and Elizabeth! Jobs and positions must be available to people no matter their gender or skin colour, and not because of their gender or skin colour. So, just because we all have the same opportunities to jobs and positions, does not mean we have an intrinsic right to those jobs or positions.

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