The CGE is a constitutional entity, relied upon to ‘strengthen constitutional democracy’. The Constitution of South Africa, in creating a framework for a new society, has established a Bill of Rights in Chapter 2 of its first constitution of 1996.
This is premised on the desire for a free and equal society in all fundamental and material aspects of life.
The Commission for Gender Equality (CGE) is one of the institutions established in terms of Chapter 9 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa (1996). In terms of section 187 of the Constitution, the mandate of the CGE is to contribute to strengthening and deepening constitutional democracy in South Africa through the promotion, protection, development, and attainment of gender equality.
The powers and functions of the CGE are further outlined in the CGE Act 39 of 1996 as amended (“CGE Act”), which include monitoring and evaluating the policies and practices of government, the private sector and other organisations to ensure that they promote and protect gender equality; public education and information; reviewing existing and upcoming legislation from a gender perspective; investigating inequality; commissioning research and making recommendations to Parliament or other authorities; investigating complaints on any gender-related issue and monitoring and reporting on South Africa’s compliance with international conventions.
Section 187(1) of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa reads: “Commission for Gender Equality must promote respect for gender equality and the protection, development and attainment of gender equality”. The Commission is a catalyst organisation for the development and attainment of gender equality. Section 187(2) grants the Commission “the power as regulated by national legislation, necessary to perform its functions, including the power to monitor, investigate, research, educate, lobby and advise and report on issues concerning gender equality”. The Commission for Gender Equality Act 39 of 1996 (as amended), has been promulgated to give effect to S187 (3) of the constitution to guide the establishment of the commission. The Act provides for the composition, powers, functions and functioning of the Commission on Gender Equality; and to provide for matters connected therewith. Section 11 outlines the powers and functions as follows: The Commission:
(i) Organs of state at any level;
(ii) Statutory bodies or functionaries;
(iii) Public bodies and authorities; and
(iv) Private businesses, enterprises, and institutions, to promote gender equality and may make any recommendations that the Commission deems necessary.
(i) Information programmes; and
(ii) Education programmes, to foster public understanding of matters pertaining to the promotion of gender equality and the role and activities of the Commission.
(i) Any Act of Parliament;
(ii) Any system of personal and family law or custom;
(iii) Any system of indigenous law, customs, or practices; or
(iv) Any other law, in force at the commencement of this Act or any law proposed by Parliament or any other legislature after the commencement of this Act, affecting or likely to affect gender equality or the status of women and make recommendations to Parliament or such other legislature with regard thereto.
(i) resolve any dispute; or
(ii) rectify any act or omission, by mediation, conciliation, or negotiation: Provided that the Commission may at any stage refer any matter to
(aa) the Human Rights Commission to deal with it in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution and the law;
(bb) the Public Protector to deal with it in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution and the law; or
(cc) any other authority, whichever is appropriate.
Values and Ethics
CGE is guided by Values and Ethics listed below