South Africa’s definition of and goals towards achieving gender equality are guided by a vision of human rights which incorporates acceptance of equal and inalienable rights of all women and men. This ideal is a fundamental tenet under the Bill of Rights of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa (Act 108 of 1996). It emerged from a long period of struggle for a democratic society that respects and promotes the rights of all its citizens irrespective of race, gender, class, age, disability, etc. South Africa has integrated the Millennium Development Goals into its national development planning. All programmes aimed at the achievement of the MDGs have been linked to gender equality and reducing violence against women and children.
The Gender Policy Framework (South Africa’s National Policy Framework for Women’s Empowerment and Gender Equality,2000) attempts to ensure that the process of achieving Gender equality is at the very center of the transformation process in South Africa within all the structures, institutions, policies, programmes of government, civil society and the private sector. The constitutional mandate on gender equality is clear, and the legislative process is providing the building blocks for a gender equitable society.
South Africa’s development strategy faces the twin challenges of accelerating growth and sharing its benefits, extending opportunities to all and improving public service delivery. Unemployment especially for women is extremely high and South Africa is among the 10 countries in the world with the highest level of income inequality, as measured by the Gini-coefficient. Other issues are crime, corruption, and HIV/AIDS (18% infection rate among adults). SA has achieved the MDG 1 target of bringing half the population out of poverty as measured by living with less then 1 USD per day, aims however at a level of 2 USD per day, to bringing down the number of children below the minimum level of dietary energy consumption and to supplying all households living below the poverty line with a minimum amounts of free basic services (water, energy, sewerage and solid waste). About 56% (Green Drop report) of the existing wastewater treatment plants in South Africa are dysfunctional thus putting people’s lives and livelihoods in jeopardy through resultant water pollution and other related environmental and economic challenges. In addition, there are thousands of households without access to acceptable standard of sanitation. This has contributed to unhealthy communities and has reinforced poverty patterns within poor urban and rural households adding a burden to already overwhelming socio-economic challenges. Poverty of access to appropriate standards of basic services has far reaching negative effects on vulnerable communities. Women are particularly at the receiving end of all these challenges.
South Africa has poverty elimination, gender equity, low carbon and green economic development as policy priorities. The country has made gender policies the core of its MDG programmes(DGIS transition), but continuous to have great female poverty challenges to overcome. While Government continues to take the lead in providing the rights-based legislative framework for achieving gender equality, there is an ongoing need to ensure that there is a critical mass within the society that supports and practices gender equality. These challenges require a continuing dialogue between the public, private and civil society sectors, in partnership with international agencies on awareness raising, advocacy, and education in support of the socio-economic and political rights and entitlements of women and girls. The stimulation of income generating activities for women and therewith women’s economic and political empowerment needs to be addressed. Developing best practices which are of relevance in local national and international policy decisions is the basis for change.
WECF works with a number of partners several partners in South Africa, in particular with the urban garden organisations “Soil for Life” and “Urban Havest” which develop community food gardens improving food security and income for women in Western Cape.
On sustainable sanitation WECF works with “Decentralised Environmental Solutions” (DES) which is an NGO in South Africa that works with WECF and the “Bremen Overseas Research and Development Agency”(BORDA). DES facilitates the provision of basic needs/services in the sectors of water supply, wastewater treatment, community based sanitation and solid waste management. It also works in the field of renewable energy through generation of biogas from waste(-water). It focuses on affordable solutions for urban food gardens and community kitchens for poor women and children.
 Inequality in income or expenditure / Gini index, Human Development Report 2007/08, UNDP. Retrieved 3 February 2008. Distribution of family income - Gini index, The World Factbook, CIA, updated on 24 January 2008. "South Africa has highest gap between rich and poor", Business Report, 28 September 2009
"Empower Women - Benefit (for) All (EWA)"
The overall goal of the WECF EWA programme is to contribute to economic and political empowerment of women from low-income rural and peri-urban regions in six developing countries (Afghanistan, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, South Africa, Tajikistan, Uganda)
19.03.2012 | WICF Project
Building local capacity for domestic solar heating, hot water and insulation for rural and remote areas in the EEC region
The action will contribute to improved health, reduced poverty and increased energy security in 22 rural communities in 7 EEC countries, through demonstrating domestic solar heating, hot water and insulation measures
Kyrgyzstan: Home Comforts - Creating local capacity for improved rural living standards via sustainable energy and sanitation
Reduce poverty via sustainable development, specifically through improved access to basic resources such as energy and safe sanitation
15.02.2011 | WECF Project
Support of climate protection via sustainable energy by training and capacity building of local partner NGOs in Caucasus and Central Asia and networking between them
„Förderung des Klimaschutzes durch nachhaltige Energie mittels Training, Kapazitätsausbau und Vernetzung lokaler NRO-Partner im Kaukasus und in Zentralasien“
Georgia: Create local capacity for sustainable development
New EU financed project started in Georgia
Local Climate Change Action - Germany
Moving climate protection closer to the people
Empowerment & Local Action (ELA)
Building the capacity of poor local communities in rural areas
Belarus - Citizens involvement
Developing multi-stakeholder cooperation in the areas of water, waste and energy efficiency in Belarus
19.04.2010 | WECF Project
Preparation for Copenhagen – climate protection and renewable energy as a chance for economy, politics and civil society in Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia through technology and knowledge transfer
Wegbereitung für Kopenhagen – Klimaschutz und Erneuerbare Energien als Chance für Wirtschaft, Politik und Zivilgesellschaft in Osteuropa, Kaukasus und Zentralasien durch Technologie und Wissenstransfer