This national gender profile describes South Africa's progress and challenges in achieving women's empowerment and gender equality goals. It measures the South African government's achievements against its stated commitments both within its supreme legislation - the Constitution, its policies, the legislative framework it has put in place, as well as the international agreements it is party to. The publication also assesses the impact of the institutional mechanisms for women's advancement that South Africa has put in place since 1994. The approach in gathering information has been comprehensive. The review is based on statistical data taken from the National Statistical Services to indicate major social trends. It also draws from government departments' reports of programmes implemented since 1994, the outcome of provincial and national "Conversations among Women", which took place between July and August 2003; and the Office on the Status of Women (OSW) Audits (1998, 2002, and 2003) of systems in place to enable gender mainstreaming. Information from South Africa's reports on the implementation of the Beijing Platform For Action (BPFA) as well as the SADC Declaration on Gender and Development was used in compiling this national gender profile.