Presentation on theme: "The ethic of gender transformation in the new South Africa: an ubuntu perspective By: Lucinda Manda."— Presentation transcript:
The ethic of gender transformation in the new South Africa: an ubuntu perspective By: Lucinda Manda
Preliminary research questions/thoughts Who ought to drive the gender transformation process? Is gender transformation in the new South Africa merely window dressing, or is it a response to a deep recognition of the valuable contribution women make?
Structure of presentation Part one: Impact of gender transformation from above Part two: Impact of gender transformation from below. Part three: The ethics of gender transformation from an ubuntu perspective
Introduction The end of apartheid heralded political victory for black men and women. First step for women was to integrate gender issues into the legislative process. Success of women’s efforts can be seen in Chapter 2 of the South African constitution Most visible transformation is in the political and decision-making process
Table 1 CountryMPSCabinet Deputy Ministers Local Govern ment South Africa 32.75 per cent 42.8 per cent 47.6 per cent 23 per cent
Transformation from above Procedural aspects of gender transformation have been institutionalized. The focus on gender equality has been the goal and objectives of an African feminist intelligentsia who occupied/occupy key positions in liberation movement. This is why the Executive and Legislative arms of government has firmly set the agenda. It is also why the Gender Equity Law sits alongside Affirmative Action Policy. How has this made a positive difference to the lives of ordinary women who are neither politically trained nor connected?
Gender transformation from below My preliminary research suggests that a substantive level, gender transformation has been slow. For example, the Academy/Institutions of higher learning. The slow pace of acceleration for black female academics is because of the lingering elements of racism and sexism The cultural ethos of, particularly, many historically White universities has not changed to accommodate black scholars, especially black female scholars Even where black female scholars exist, they tend to occupy lower level positions. In this sense, the gender transformation of society is not complete.
The way forward: an ubuntu perspective The new South Africa needs practical tools that aid in engendering gender transformation that is humanist. Principles such as equality, justice and fairness ought to be accompanied by an awareness of our interdependence and need for each other. Hence the questions asked are: how can ubuntu be applied to ethically engender gender transformation? In other words, what values does ubuntu offer us in our quest to meaningfully transform society?
Defining ubuntu Ubuntu means humanness based on values of caring, sharing, respect, compassion, equality, reciprocity, and interdependence. It is a relational ethic – umuntu ngamuntu ngabantu – I am, because we are. Ubuntu puts emphasis on treating each and every persons equally, fairly and in a just manner. Most importantly, ubuntu is a way of life. If we are to substantively engender gender transformation in the new South Africa, we need to couple ethical principles of justice, fairness and equality with an ethical consciousness that gives primacy to the needs of others. A relational ethic such as ubuntu, recognizes the unique worth, and valuable contribution women offer society, which are complementary to the contribution men make. Any genuine attempt of gender transformation that goes beyond the procedural level ought to be guided by ubuntu.
Conclusion 14 years after democracy South Africa has certainly made progress in the area of empowering women on the political front, with a few visible scatterings of empowered women on the business front. However, much more needs to be done for women who are not, for instance, politically connected, or educated and live on the margins of society. In this regard, the process of gender transformation is not complete. It can only be assisted if it is driven from above and below and is based on ubuntu. Why? Ubuntu is a useful and practical tool to apply, because it is a catch-phrase that can be invoked by both government and ordinary citizens. It is something that all South Africans, black and white, pride themselves of possessing in one way or another.