UN Women South Africa Multi-Country Office signs MoU with South African Local Government Association

Date: Tuesday, March 29, 2016

UN Women SAMCO Representative Anne Githuku-Shongwe (Left) and South African Local Government Association CEO Xolile George sign a memorandum of understanding between their respective organisations.
UN Women SAMCO Representative Anne Githuku-Shongwe (Left) and South African Local Government Association CEO Xolile George sign a memorandum of understanding between their respective organisations. Photo credit UN Women

Pretoria, South Africa - On Thursday, February 3, UN Women South Africa MCO signed an MoU with the South African Local Government Association (SALGA). The signing ceremony, which was held at the SALGA headquarters in Pretoria, was attended by UN Women Representative Anne Githuku Shongwe; Chairperson of the South Africa National Working Group, Ms Boitumelo Moloi; SALGA Women’s Commission National Commissioner, Councillor Sindiswa Gomba; and SALGA CEO, Xolile George as well as colleagues from SALGA and UN Women SAMCO.

In her welcome remarks, the programme manager Mirriam Lehlokoa recounted the origins of the MoU, which were a brief meeting following a conference attended by her and Programme Specialist Susan Kimathi in 2015. Ms Lehlokoa expressed her sincere appreciation to Ms. Kimathi and quoted Nelson Mandela’s address to the National Conference of Commitments: Gender & Women Empowerment, Kempton Park, South Africa in 1996 “As long as outmoded ways of thinking prevent women from making a meaningful contribution to society, progress will be slow”.

The MoU focuses on women’s political empowerment, as well as the ways that UN Women can support local government structures in implementing policies and programmes that empower women in their communities. Among the areas of collaboration outlined are carrying out empirical research to identify obstacles that hinder access to leadership positions and/or hamper effective leadership by women leaders in order to produce a knowledge product and programme that will inform and implement interventions; and creating awareness and enhancing the ability of leaders to promote uptake of international commitments to gender equality and the empowerment of women in their spheres of influence  within local government structures.

SALGA’s Women’s Commission is coordinating, promoting and advocating for gender appropriate strategies and practices within member municipalities, with the aim of the results feeding into regional and continental processes.

In her address, Ms Gomba said “We are aiming eventually to have the 50/50 regulatory frameworks legislated in governments and political parties. Women must empower each other and challenge each other.” She also stressed that though “South Africa is glorified for its policies on gender,” as a country it needs to improve implementation efforts. 

Ms Githuku-Shongwe spoke about UN Women’s global Safe Cities initiative, which was launched in Atlantis in 2014, stressing that the gains made were not possible without collaboration between local government in the City of Cape Town and UN Women. Ms Githuku-Shongwe also highlighted the HeForShe IMPACT 10X10X10 Corporate Parity Report launched at Davos this year, presenting a copy to Ms. Gomba.

The partnership is aligned to a key thematic area in UN Women’s work globally: Impact Area 1, that women lead and participate in decision making at all levels; so UN Women is well-placed to support the SALGA Women’s Commission.

Once the MoU was signed, Mr George closed the proceedings, reiterating his excitement for the partnership, especially for how it will re-energise the women’s commission. Mr George ended his address by committing SALGA to an increase in budgeting for work on gender equality, to great applause.