Females are underrepresented at local government level

A doctoral researcher at the Multi-level Initiative of the Community Law Centre, Thulaganyo Selokela, presented a paper on “Gender Representation in Local Government’. She presented this at a conference organised by the Institute for law in Action based at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University together with the Institute on Municipal Administration For Southern Africa.

This conference on local government and the law took place in Port Elizabeth on 10 and 11 October. The main theme for the conference was ‘Harnessing the law to promote and improve local government’.

Selokela’s presentation highlighted findings that she had discovered as part of her Masters Thesis in Local Government Law. She stated that female councillors in local government are generally underrepresented. According to Selokela, political parties do not seem to be allowing gender parity in nominating prospective councillors to stand for elections, despite the municipal structures requiring them to do so. She noted that the legislation itself does not help in encouraging political parties to adhere to legislation that calls for 50% representation of women in political office.

Many of the municipal officials who were attended the conference agreed, with Selokela. However, some pointed out that legislation alone cannot instill change and that the legislation can also impede on political parties’ will to run their internal affairs freely.

The conference attracted prestigious government officials and members of civil society and 11 papers were presented. Some of the themes that emanated from the papers were on the following issues; legislation and by-laws constraining service delivery and development and how to rectify it, traditional leadership and local government, senior management and responsive municipal government.