The role of the CGE
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 Constitution expressly articulates that the Bill of Rights is the foundation of our democracy which preserves the rights of the citizens of the Republic by entrenching the democratic values of human dignity, equality and freedom and that these rights amongst others must be respected, protected and fulfilled. 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, 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.
Powers and functions of the Commission
(a) The Commission shall
monitor and evaluate policies and practices of
- organs of state at any level;
- statutory bodies or functionaries;
- public bodies and authorities; and
- private businesses, enterprises and institutions,
to promote gender equality and may make any recommendations that the Commission deems necessary
(b) The Commission shall
develop, conduct or manage
- information programmes; and
- education programmes, to foster public understanding of matters pertaining to the promotion of gender equality and the role and activities of the Commission
(c) The Commission may
recommend to Parliament or any other legislature the adoption of new legislation which would promote gender equality and the status of women;
(d) The Commission shall
liaise and interact with any organisation which actively promotes gender equality and other sectors of civil society to further the object of the Commission
(e) The Commission shall
monitor the compliance with international conventions, international covenants and international charters, acceded to or ratified by the Republic, relating to the object of the Commission
(f) The Commission shall
prepare and submit reports to Parliament pertaining to any such convention, covenant or charter relating to the object of the Commission
(g) The Commission may
conduct research or cause research to be conducted to further the object of the Commission;
(h) The Commission may
consider such recommendations, suggestions and requests concerning the promotion of gender equality as it may receive from any source
(i) The Commission shall
as far as is practicable maintain close liaison with institutions, bodies or authorities with similar objectives to the Commission, to foster common policies and practices and to promote co-operation in relation to the handling of complaints in cases of overlapping jurisdiction or other appropriate instances;
(j) The Commission shall evaluate
- any Act of Parliament;
- any system of personal and family law or custom;
- any system of indigenous law, customs or practices; or
- 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.
(k) The Commission
shall investigate any gender-related issues of its own accord or on receipt of a complaint, and shall endeavour to
- resolve any dispute; or
- 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