Gouws appointed to Commission for Gender Equality, wins international award
Prof Amanda Gouws (photo) from the Political Science Department at Stellenbosch University recently became one of nine commissioners to be appointed to the Commission for Gender Equality (CGE) by President Jacob Zuma. Less than a month later, the professor specialising in gender politics, South African politics and political behaviour, has yet another achievement to celebrate.
She won the Wilma Rule Award for the best paper in the category Gender and Politics at the 22nd World Congress of Political Science
of the International Political Science Association (IPSA), which was held from 6-12 July in Madrid, Spain. The paper is titled Multiculturalism in South Africa: Dislodging the Binary between Universal Human Rights and Culture/Tradition. .
The award has been awarded since 2000 to encourage research in the area of gender and politics. It was named in tribute to Rule, who like Prof Gouws, completed a degree with Journalism as one of her majors before embarking on an academic career in political science. According to the IPSA website, Rule’s “study of gender and politics led to a lifetime of research on electoral systems and how they facilitated or hindered the election of women and underrepresented minorities to public office”. She “was a leading writer and political science researcher whose work resulted in a number of articles and books that challenge conventional notions about the reasons for the lack of political representation by women in the US”.
Gouws says it is a huge honour to receive the award.
“I was speechless, because I did not expect it and yet it has also been a great honour for me. In a sense, it is also an honour for South Africa, because this paper focuses on the problems of a developing country. The fact that an organisation like IPSA is recognising the political challenges faced by a developing country is a feather in our cap.”
Just a month earlier, Gouws’ attention was not so much focused on the paper she was to present in Madrid, but rather on her appointment to the CGE. According to Gouws, a “great group of commissioners have been appointed with the ability to ensure that the Commission functions on a much higher level with greater visibility than it did before”.
“I am excited to work with these commissioners who are aware of the seriousness of gender discrimination in South Africa and who realise that many of the solutions that were recommended in the past, are not working and that the time has arrived to search for new solutions.”
She hopes to help raise and improve the public profile of the Commission during her term.
“I hope that we will now start communicating with the public on a more regular basis and that we will take our oversight function over government very seriously by monitoring the impact that all laws have on gender issues. I also hope that where discrimination does take place we will use the investigative function of the Commission to search for solutions against discrimination,” says Gouws.