Release Date: 21 January 2020
To: Editors, Producers and Reporters
The Commission for Gender Equality (CGE) has learned with shock various media reports about the sexist and patriarchal treatment of African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL) Spokesperson Ms. Sizophila Mkhize at the African National Congress (ANC) Lekgotla, over the weekend.
The CGE finds the treatment of Ms Mkhize unacceptable as it further entrenches patriarchal notions that men have a right to prescribe and police how women dress and hold authority over what is acceptable, to an extent of removing her from the meeting in order to punish her and humiliate her. The CGE is of the view that the response to Ms Mkhize perpetuates the wrong idea that women are seductive, and men need to be protected from women. Men must know that women will wear anything that they find comfortable on their skin, “It is their body, they decide on what to wear”.
The CGE calls upon those that Ms Mkhize has allegedly pointed to be main protagonists in this disgraceful act to publicly issue an apology to her. The CGE also calls upon the ANC to institute an investigation on its own accord to ensure that sexist and patriarchal views and treatment of women within its rank is systematically dealt with and ensure that this type of discrimination does not occur again. Women have the right of association and freedom to wear whatever they feel comfortable in without having to be subjected to the sexist and patriarchal treatment like the one Ms Mkhize endured at the ANC Lekgotla. Men, and anyone else who holds dangerous, sexist and patriarchal views on women’s dress code must know that they are not the moral authority on respectability.