By Jessie Taylor


While women in South Africa may still be underrepresented in politics, they do hold their share of responsibility when it comes to South Africa’s Cabinet. Appointed in March this year, half of the posts are held by women – representing the dynamics of South African voters.

According to the latest Gender Series Volume IX: Women Empowerment report by Stats SA, men dominate decision-making positions in government. They are more likely to hold mayoral positions than women (68% vs 32%) and parliament seats (54% to 46%). At the local government level, males were more likely to occupy councillor positions than females.

This is despite more women appearing on the voter’s role during elections.

“More women than men registered to vote and turned out to vote in the general and municipal elections in 2019 and 2021, respectively. KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape, and Limpopo were the provinces with the highest share of women registered to vote in the most recent local government elections.”

However, progress is being made in some areas. 

The latest Gender Series report showed that Cabinet had reached parity, as 50% of the seats comprised women. Women’s seats in Parliament increased from 33% in 2004 to 46% in 2019.

“Politically, there is significant progress towards gender equality in Parliament with the number of women in parliamentary seats having increased since 2004,” the report said.

Currently, out of 30 positions, 15 are held by women. Here, PSL lists female icons in the public sector:

Sindisiwe Chikunga

Hon. Chikunga was appointed Minister of Transport in March after serving as the Deputy Minister of Transport. She previously held the positions of Deputy Minister of Public Service and Administration and Deputy Minister of Transport.

Barbara Creecy

Hon. Creecy has served as the Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and Environment since May 2019. She is one of the longest-serving Members of the Provincial Legislature, having joined the legislature in 1994.

Patricia De Lille

Hon. De Lille is the Minister of Tourism. Before her appointment in March, she held the position of Minister of Public Works and Infrastructure. She is also currently the leader of the political party GOOD.

Thokozile Didiza

Hon. Didiza serves as the Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development. Hon. Didiza was South Africa’s first woman Deputy Minister of Agriculture, a role she held between 1994 and 1999.

Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma

Dr. Dlamini Zuma was appointed as the Minister in the Presidency responsible for Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities in March. She was Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs before the appointment and has previously served as Minister in The Presidency: Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation.

Noxolo Kiviet

Hon. Kiviet is the Minister of Public Service and Administration, a role she took up in March. She previously served as the Deputy Minister of Public Works and Infrastructure.

Mmamoloko Kubayi

Hon. Kubayi is the Minister of Human Settlements. She has served as a Minister in five portfolios: Tourism, Science and Technology, Communications and Energy. She also acted as a Minister of Health during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Thandi Modise

Hon. Modise is the Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, a role she took up in August 2021. She previously served as the Speaker of the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces. Prior to her move to the national government, she was the Premier of the North West province.

Angie Motshekga

Hon.Motshekga has held the position of Minister of Basic Education since May 2009. She is also a member of the ANC National Executive Committee and the ANC Women’s League President.

Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams

Hon.Ndabeni-Abrahams was appointed Minister of Small Business Development in August 2021 after serving as the Minister of Communications. She previously held the roles of Deputy Minister of Communications and Deputy Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services.

Thembi Nkadimeng

In March, Hon.Nkadimeng was appointed Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs. She was Deputy Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs before that. Between 2014 and 2021, she served as the  Executive Mayor of Polokwane Municipality in the Limpopo Province.

Khumbudzo Ntshavheni

Hon. Ntshavheni was appointed Minister in the Presidency in March, moving her from her Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies post. She previously served as Minister of Small Business Development.

Naledi Pandor

Dr. Pandor was appointed Minister of International Relations and Cooperation in June 2019. She previously served as the Minister of Higher Education and Training, and the Minister of Science and Technology. She has been a Member of Parliament since 1994.

Maropene Ramokgopa

Hon. Ramokgopa is the Minister in the Presidency responsible for Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation. She is a policymaker and diplomat with nine years of experience in economic diplomacy, multilateral diplomacy and diplomatic advisory roles.

Lindiwe Zulu

Hon. Zulu has been the Minister of Social Development since May 2019. She was previously appointed as the Minister of Small Business Development, the special advisor to the President on International Relations, and the South African Ambassador to Brazil.

Read more from the Women’s Month 2023 edition: