Gender inequality within student representative structures ignited a heated debate during the last session of the UJ student parliamentary gathering held at APK campus over the weekend.
The second day of the parliamentary gathering, which was on a Sunday, heralded the presentation of some of the issues that were not discussed in detail from the previous day. These included the treasurer generals’ report and commission reports.
However, proceedings of the gathering where characterised by howling and instances of chaotic miscommunication, a mini replica of the national parliament, as described by Christina Magabe who is a member of the UJ parliament.
Nonetheless, a general degree of progress and order was maintained during the day.
What struck the most was the heated debate that emanated from a commission report session which sought to challenge some gender based discrimination within student representative structures.
The commission advocated for the allocation of leadership positions to females based on sex.
“[Out of ten representatives] we only have two women representatives and we are in a democratic South Africa where there is affirmative action. So why is it not applied when it comes to APK?” said Thembi Nkondlo a member of UJ parliament refereeing to the composition of the APK SRC while speaking to The Open Journal.
Moreover, the main argument was that, females cannot compete fairly against males since it is a highly patriarchal society, as such, some the leadership positions must be given to them.
“I believe that a leader must be elected based on capacity and abilities. This thing of saying that this year we had a male president and next year we have a female president will mean that we might have leaders that are not competent enough,” said Zikhona Buzani a member of UJ parliament.
“I do believe in gender equality. We as ladies are capable of leading. But we must not be in leadership positions by default,” she added.
While Buzani offered a different perspective, Nkondlo suggested an example, “let’s use the SRC right now, there’ve been complaints of how they are not doing their work and that very same SRC is dominated by men which means it’s not a matter of capacity.”
Still, mixed reactions emanated from the audience, it seemed evident that a general disagreement heated from the aspect of giving leadership positions to females by default based on their sex.
“Honestly speaking, looking at the response from the majority of the people that were here today. They did not support it,” said Rhandzeka Maluleke a member of UJ parliament, when speaking to The Open Journal after the gathering.
Despite some incidences of chaos and howling, the house managed to attain some progress on the issue.
Finally, it was acknowledged that indeed women are being side-lined and that a 50-50 representation between females and males ought to the implemented.
“Women are side lined in certain positions that are taken by many comrades. So our reality is that we have to ensure at all times that we protect our women and we give them the platform they need,” said Takalani Mutsharini, the Treasurer General of the Central SRC.
(Kupakwashe Kambasha, Kayesco6@gmail.com)