Since its establishment, Umzingwane Rural District Council (URDC) has been operating without a gender policy, a condition that has resulted in ungendered provision of services.
Councilors, District Administrators and other representatives from the local authority came together at the local authority's offices where they commenced discussions to help them craft a gender policy. The dialogues will continue till Wednesday and they will ensure that Umzingwane updates its Strategic Plan.
During the deliberations, it was raised that out of 20 wards in the district, only six are headed by female Councilors, a disparity that influences gender imbalances and lack of gender-responsive budgeting.
Facilitating the workshop, Mbekezeli Mthunzi, a gender policy development specialist, said Umzingwane should have deliberate efforts to increase and enhance women's participation.
"There are structural challenges that affect women's inclusion in decision-making processes and there is need to create policies that accelerate women's participation and involvement," said Mthunzi.
Discussions also concentrated on the need for prioritisation of quotas within councils to facilitate gender equity, gender equality, and gender-responsive service delivery.
We need to create a quota within the district so that women become, involved and participate in all facets of development," said one of the participants.
Day one of the three-day workshop ended with presentations that identify discrepancies within the local council. It is expected that by day three, a gender policy framework will be in existence.
Source: Women's Institute for Leadership Development