All these findings are under embargo as the reports have not as yet been launched, nor have they been shared
with the relevant persons affected.
(1) Brief summary of Findings and recommendations on SDI Study
This study has sought to examine the extent to which gender and disability issues have been mainstreamed into the Spatial Development Initiatives of the government of South Africa especially under conditions of gender blinded-ness and gender selective amnesia by large corporations. Three specific projects have been assessed namely: the Coega SDI, the Phalaborwa SDI and the Richards Bay SDI. Thethree were chosen for their strategic location in poorer provinces with significant female population. The study adopted the focus group discussion method to generate primary information used in assessing the SDI’s.
The key objectives of SDI’s have been discussed earlier and include the generation of sustainable employment for local inhabitants and economic growth in these relatively underdeveloped areas. It was intended that small and medium scale enterprises would benefit significantly from the establishment of SDI’s. Though SDI’s were viewed as having the potential to contribute to the economic upliftment of both women and men, the formulation of objectives of the SDI’s from the onset did not take account of issues regarding gender mainstreaming and hence the enforcement of gender mainstreaming became an after-thought. Comparing the three SDI, The Coega SDI has excelled in terms of gender mainstreaming, the empowerment of local communities through employment creation and procurement policy that promoted the participation of women and SMME development. The SDI's at Phalaborwa and Richards Bay SDI currently operate with minimal involvement of women and the local communities. They focus mainly on project implementation through trade/investment promotion. Overall, the disabled were clearly absent from the list of project beneficiaries.
There is an urgent need to enhance CGE capacity to shape policy reform in terms of the interests and expectations of women in line with the requirements of gender mainstreaming. With the right political and institutional commitment, such a solution is possible.
More research is needed to analyse the issues of gender mainstreaming, gender dis-aggregation, disability and the inclusion of disabled persons. There is need for clearer reforms within institutions and businesses to prevent large businesses merely addressing gender issues as a necessary condition. It therefore becomes imperative that further research be conducted by independent research institutions and organisations including universities.
(2) Maintenance research findings and recommendations
(a) Findings This study has added to the CGE’s knowledge of how the maintenance system is working (or not working) for women in South Africa and, indirectly, for their children. In particular, it has increased our knowledge of what happens after the order is made, of how the maintenance amount (quantum) is arrived at, and of what factors might prevent women from using the private maintenance system. The research also assessed the extent to which the recommendations put forward in the Lund Committee report had been implemented.
Each of the sections of the report ends with a short summary and conclusions. To avoid unnecessary repetition, this final section concentrates on key findings for which the researchers are able to put forward suggestions as to how the situation might be improved. The research accepts that the private maintenance system cannot help all women. In particular, it cannot help those whose co-parent is unemployed. There are, however, a substantial number of women whose co-parent is earning and could contribute but does not, or does not do so adequately. It is these women and their children that these suggestions aim to assist.
The study confirmed that the determination of quantum is an area that needs urgent attention. As noted in the introduction, unless the amounts of money received are adequate, it will be of limited use to perfect other aspects of the maintenance system. The different methods used in this study yielded slightly different estimates of current amounts being awarded. Overall, however, it seemed that the median amount could be as low as R200 per child. In contrast, examination of the court files suggested that the median monthly income of the fathers at the time of the first award was R2,845 and that most were in formal employment. The low level of awards thus seems unjustified, especially as the interviews with women suggested that more than a quarter had no other source of income for themselves and their children apart from private maintenance. The Maintenance Act states that parents should contribute in proportion to their ability to do so. In most cases this does not seem to be happening.
The proposal for Phase II noted that the People’s Family Law Centre had conducted exercises on quantum with magistrates on two different occasions. On both occasions, the Centre divided participants into ten groups and provided each group with identical fact-sheets describing the financial and other aspects of the situation of a respondent and claimant. The ‘awards’ arrived at by the groups for identical cases reportedly had a variance of 50%.
The interviews with officials suggest, firstly, that the Centre’s experience would be repeated if other groups of magistrates participated and, secondly, that the variation in approach would not be confined to magistrates. The officials’ descriptions of how they arrived at quantum were very vague and only one magistrate gave specific details and ‘formulae’. Officials named a range of variables that they said they take into account when determining quantum. All of the variables named were valid ones. However, not all officials gave a full list of the necessary factors. This is worrying, especially as the list of factors is not long, should be used by these officials on a daily basis, and thus should be easy to remember. In addition, the mismatch between what the officials named as critical factors and the information that was recorded in the case files suggests that there is a gap between what they say "should" be considered and what "is" considered in reality. Often, it seems, the amount is determined primarily by what the father says he is able to contribute. Indeed, 11 of the 18 men interviewed openly acknowledged that the quantum was set at the amount that they were willing to pay.
The People’s Family Law Centre also reports that they have evidence that some officials are misunderstanding how they should take the different factors into account. For example, some officials reportedly operate on the basis that both parents should contribute equal monetary amounts, regardless of their relative incomes. Many also take the current list of expenses of the woman and child/ren as an indication of what is needed. However, current expenses will be constrained by the available money and could be significantly lower than what is needed objectively.
Some officials stressed that each case needed to be looked at individually, and that one therefore could not have a set formula. Saying that each case must be looked at ‘individually’ might sound sensitive. The problem is that it provides a lot of scope for personal prejudice – including gender bias and opinions about morality – to come into play. It also allows for power relations to have a greater influence.
The evidence suggests that court officials might be even more conservative in respect of quantum than the fathers. From the interviews with women, it was found that maintenance amounts of R100 and less were more common when maintenance officers or magistrates were said to have decided on the amount than when fathers suggested the amount.
The 1998 Act provides for the issuing of guidelines on factors to be taken into account in determining quantum. It seems this has not been done.
When problems are encountered with performance of government officials, it is common for training to be seen as the solution. Certainly, the research confirmed that staff at maintenance courts had minimal formal training. They had, however, generally been employed at the court for a long time and thus should have solid experience on which to draw. Some might argue that this long experience could substitute for training. However, it is possible that some officials have simply continued to do things incorrectly over the long period that they have been employed. It is also possible - and likely – that colleagues who are themselves not properly trained are passing incorrect information on to each other.
There are some areas in which training could assist. Training in the estimation of quantum using consistent guidelines is one example. Secondly, it would also be useful to educate staff on the importance of introducing and enforcing standardised procedures, for example in respect of filling in of information by applicants and respondents. This latter form of training should not require much time. Thirdly, the full range of maintenance officials need social context training so that they are better able to appreciate the life circumstances of people of different cultures and class, and thus better able to deliver justice. Justice College has been offering social context training for some years, but none of the interviewees mentioned having attended such courses.
The examination of the court files revealed that often key information was missing. In particular, there was seldom information on expenses of claimants and respondents. There was also seldom information on earnings, even when the person concerned was definitely employed. For example, information on earnings for complainants was only available for 44 out of 432 cases examined, although nearly three times this number were earning. Similarly, only 144 of the 432 files contained information about the monthly income of the respondent on which the first order was based, despite the fact that the overwhelming majority of complainants were employed. Where there was information on earnings, there was seldom formal proof, such as a pay slip. Instead, it seems that the information provided by the father was accepted as being accurate.
Without accurate information, it is unclear how the officials could have come to a decision on quantum, or been satisfied that the parties had reached an equitable agreement. In particular, information on both parents’ income is necessary if the court is to arrive at a quantum that provides for contributions by each parent proportional to their ability to contribute.
There are regulations which provide for a range of standard forms to record the income and other information, but it seems that these are often not being used. Some officials might respond that the parties complete the forms, but that these are not stored in the files. There are two problems with this defense. Firstly, in the interviews with women, less than half said that they had been asked to complete any forms detailing their income and expenditure. Yet this should happen for all complainants. Secondly, unless all information is stored in the files, it is difficult for officials who deal with the case subsequently (for example, when there is an application for a variation) to understand the basis for the first order.
Other basic information also needs to be recorded in the files. For example, in the majority of the case files examined, the relationship between the complainant and the respondent was not specified.
The research confirmed the finding of the Moneys in Trust investigation that each cash hall has devised its own rules and methods of operations, including in respect of operating hours and how to deal with unclaimed monies. The research also suggested that the way the cash halls operate can discourage men from paying. Where, for example, payments are only received during restricted hours and on particular days, men who are employed may not be able to pay without putting their jobs in jeopardy. This is clearly counter-productive for everyone concerned.
The research also confirmed the Moneys in Trust finding that one of the biggest problems for the cash halls involves reconciliation of money rather than the actual paying out. The problems are exacerbated by the lack of computers, and by inadequate information provided by employers (mostly government departments) paying on behalf of their employees. The latter problem can mean that women have to make repeat trips to the court as officials cannot say on the first trip whether their money has arrived or not.
The research provided contradictory information as to whether or not there was a problem in respect of queuing. At many courts officials said that women were served speedily. However, long queues emerged at the top of the list when women recipients were asked what problems they were experiencing when collecting maintenance. The long queues result in wasted time for the recipient. They also tend to provoke poor and unfriendly service from over-stressed staff.
The focus groups involved women who had never claimed maintenance themselves. Nevertheless, participants generally had a good understanding that the father has responsibilities – in particular financial responsibilities – in respect of his biological children, irrespective of his relationship with the mother. The groups suggested that there was also relatively widespread knowledge of the Maintenance Act, although many participants did not know the Act’s name or all the details. This understanding and knowledge was, however, accompanied by very low opinions of most men’s willingness to fulfil these responsibilities.
The focus groups suggested that cultural factors do not currently play a big role in South Africa in preventing claims. More important factors which discourage women from claiming maintenance are the knowledge that the father is not earning, perceptions that the court process is tedious and often ineffective (including on account of corruption), fear of violence towards the woman and her child/ren also plays a role, and a perception that the father simply will not pay.
The assessment of the extent to which the Lund Committee proposals in respect of private maintenance had been implemented found that this had happened for less than half of the proposals.
(a) Determination of quantum and standard procedures for dealing with all parts of the maintenance process needs to be included in Justice College’s curriculum. In the majority of cases, quantum is decided at an informal hearing. It is therefore the maintenance officers – in particular – who need training on quantum, as well as on how to attempt to equalise power relations in the mediation.
(b) The use of simple standard forms for the recording of income and expenses needs to be enforced for all cases. The completed forms must be included in the court case files. This will facilitate monitoring, and also facilitate decision-making when either party applies for variation. Forms should be available in all languages, and the items should be understandable and relevant for people of different life styles. (c) All cash halls should be provided with computers and a simple computerised system should be developed for the management of maintenance receipts and payments. (d) There needs to be a system at each court by means of which women can find out whether their money has been paid in. This will avoid women incurring the time and money expenses of repeat trips to the court.
(e) The Department of Justice needs to stipulate the procedures to be followed when there are problems with payments. Officials need firm guidelines as well as training on how to deal with the range of problems which are commonly encountered.
(f) The Department of Justice needs to introduce a standardised way of dealing with money that is not collected. There should be a set time period after which the court must attempt to contact the women, guidelines on how, and how often, the court must attempt to make contact, and guidelines on what happens to the money if the attempts at contact are unsuccessful. (g) The Department of Justice needs to find more and better ways to disseminate information on the details of the Maintenance Act, so that women (and men) are clearer about how it should work rather than simply gaining knowledge from stories of how it does work. NGOs and community or local radio stations could assist in disseminating information. However, the Department cannot rely solely on NGOs as they are not found in all areas.
(h) The Department of Justice, together with the Department of Social Development, needs to institute a widespread awareness campaign on the responsibility of fathers to pay maintenance. The campaign must stress that the fact that the woman is receiving a child support grant does not affect the father’s responsibility. The campaign should be directed at both women and men. The campaign could be part of government’s Moral Regeneration initiative. (i)Court officials need to inform all women at the time of the first application of their right to claim regular increases, the importance of doing so, and how to go about it. Alternatively, the law should be changed to provide that all maintenance orders, by default, provide for annual increases equal to the inflation rate. The latter approach would relieve the pressure on the courts and on the women.
(j) The CGE will approach the Department of Justice and request for a report against each of the Lund Committee proposals explaining (i) which they have implemented, and to what extent; (ii) which they have not implemented, and the reasons for non-implementation; and (iii) any plans which the Department has to implement any of the outstanding recommendations.
(3) Findings and Recommendations in the Gender Budget Research
Generally there is a need for better communication between municipalities and community representatives. Ward committees are fairly new structures and have thus far not proven to be a successful means of ensuring community participation in the municipalities that were part of this study. The municipalities need to take measures to ensure that these representatives are aware of municipal policies and practices. It may be the case that the committees are not meeting often enough or that ward Councillors are not providing the necessary information. A means through which municipalities could promote the attendance of community members at meetings and workshops is through paying for travelling costs. In Nkomazi the fact that the CRs had to cover their own travelling costs was cited as a reason for their non-attendance at the interview. The municipalities could also schedule meetings on the weekend when people are less likely to be working and thus unable to attend.
In the municipalities visited there was a general lack of awareness of gender issues. This was especially the case with officials who came across as technicians who took little cognisance of social issues. In two municipalities (Kungwini and Kgatelopele) interviewees acknowledged that they did not have the necessary skills or knowledge to create and implement policies that take gender into account. This illustrates the necessity for training on gender issues or assistance from other levels of government in order for municipal budgets to be more gender sensitive. Such training should focus on how officials can incorporate gender awareness that they acquire into their daily tasks. At present, we found that even in the cases where interviewees were aware of the need for gender provisions they were not certain how these could be implemented.
The lack of implementation of gender aware policies also reflects that there is no policy framework in place to guide municipalities. While municipalities cannot be absolved of responsibility for this situation, it signals an absence of guidance from other government levels, particularly the Office on the Status of Women.
Another issue that was raised in Kungwini, Kopanong and Lephalale was that income-generating projects in the municipalities were not successful. It was clear from this that more thought needs to be put into marketing and management concerns before such projects are initiated. This is necessary in order to ensure the sustainability of these projects so that they can contribute to fulfilling the LED mandate of the municipalities.
Lastly, a key obstacle to gender sensitive budgeting that can be identified was the limited budget of the municipalities. This was cited in four cases as the reason that the municipality did not make allocations that were targeted at gender, women or female-headed households. In two other cases the budget constraints were cited as the reason that the municipality could not implement projects or suggestions provided by the community in consultations. In order for municipal gender structures to have an impact on communities they need not only the necessary skills but also the necessary funding.
EXPERIENCES OF WOMEN LAWYERS IN THE LEGAL PROFESSION
Generally the responses indicated that there is an unconcealed gender bias in the legal profession. 92%of the women lawyers perceive a subtle but pervasive gender bias within the legal profession.
Tasks such as typing, filing , photocopying or making and pouring tea is traditionally perceived as a woman’s work women lawyers are expected to do.
Women lawyers are treated and regarded as damage controllers during emergencies.
Women lawyers are also made not to forget the ‘gender divides’ between men and women – in most cases they are like the housewives in a big firm.
Women lawyers indicated that the "all boys" club still exists in the legal profession.
In most cases women are not able to attend these social gatherings because they have family responsibilities to attend to, while men attend men clubs that are strictly for men membership.
The language that is normally used by male lawyers or clients when they address a woman lawyer is both discriminatory and derogatory. Women lawyers are often called "baby, sweetie, love, honey and darling".
The clients most often request for a male partner to be involved if a woman lawyer is the person handling the case.
Some clients go as far as sexually harassing the female lawyers. They bring them presents and expect not to be rejected. It is quite clear from the research that male and some female clients do not trust women lawyers especially when they work alone.
The research also exposed the negative attitudes the older generation of male lawyers has towards younger women lawyers.
Some Magistrates, especially the older ones, show no respect for women lawyers at all, often ridiculing women lawyers in front of the court room and her male counterparts.
Women lawyers indicated that there are lesser career opportunities for women than men.
Women lawyers are often expected to deal with divorce and child support cases and are not free to choose their own cases.
It is important to promote equal opportunities and work\family balance for women professionals.
Issues that perpetuate the inequalities like difference of salary between male and female lawyers who are on the same level should be addressed.
Measures should be taken to ensure that there is representational equity between men and women in law firms.
The work activities that take place outside the offices should be structured in way that they do not exacerbate the ‘isolation’ culture of the profession on women lawyers.
Exploratory Study on Gendered Nature of Poverty among the Elderly
There are huge disparities in the allocation of resources between rural, farming and urban areas. In rural areas across most provinces social services for the aged are inadequate.
Rural areas still fall under male-dominated traditional authorities which has negative implications for the quality of life of aged widows.
Widows previously married under local custom have problems in inheriting property and pensions from their deceased husbands.
Poverty and evictions among the aged are rife on farms. In some cases, it is felt that farmers have not been paying back money that they deducted from their husbands’ wages as pensions.
Both aged men and women on the farms complained of widespread evictions carried out by farmers on the basis that they were no longer economically productive.
The main concern among older persons in informal settlements and urban areas is that some of the services are being cut because people cannot afford to pay.
Aged women are increasingly finding themselves faced with the burden of looking after large ‘workerless’ families swelled by the HIV/AIDS pandemic, and their pensions, if they can access them, cannot even cover the most basic food necessities of these families.
Evidence emerged that aged widows were being forced out of their husbands’ houses by both relatives and children and subsequently find themselves living in shacks located in the informal settlements.
From all areas, older persons complained of long delays, inefficiency, red tape, corruption and the capture of wrong information by officials in the processing of identity documents.
In Limpopo and Mpumalanga, the majority of older persons are living in extreme poverty because Home Affairs is very slow in issuing the necessary documents for people to access social services, grants and pensions.
Many older persons in Limpopo and Mpumalanga are migrant labourers from neighboring countries over the last 50 years. Many of them are still effectively illegal immigrants and cannot access social services, social grants and pensions.
RECOMMENDATIONS Sensitizing policy delivery to understand the specific needs of the elderly, in particular the needs of elderly women.
Increasing coordination or maximizing synergy.
Traditional, often patriarchal structures need to be democratized in line with the constitution of the country.
The amendment of the Social Assistance Act (SAA) so that both men and women receive the state old age pension at 60 years of age.
Current social assistance mostly excludes non-citizens such illegal immigrants and refugees. This should be amended.
The SOAP (State Old Age Pension) be revised upwards from the current R740 per month to R1000 per month.
Creation of an integrated food and social security system in South Africa to alleviate poverty by speeding up land reform, both for purposes of boosting rural food security and the provision of housing.
The establishment of integrated social service centres, designed from the various Social Cluster Departments, to facilitate the processing of identity documents, birth certificates, affidavits, and for the payment of old age pensions, disability and child support grants.
State provision of funeral insurance policies for the aged.
State provision of old age homes for the poor, both in rural and urban areas.
A comprehensive framework for income support for victims of HIV/AIDS and AIDS orphans.
Increasing the number of social workers distributed across provinces to attend to the problems faced by older persons in rural, semi rural, urban and peri-urban areas.
Speeding up the process of granting title deeds where appropriate in favour of land ownership.
Improving the standards and performance of health clinics and officials assisting the older persons.
Effective implementation of the criminal law and the Domestic Violence Act in situations where crimes are committed against the aged.
Thorough implementation of the principles of Batho Pele with special emphasis on the aged.