First the good news: according to non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in the sector, the department has become more visible and effective in co-ordinating and getting other national departments and spheres of government involved in programmes that are trying to get the rights of the most vulnerable in society into the mainstream.The bad news is that, following its ineffectiveness in the previous year, it is coming off a very low base – but it is a start. The department remains weak on the monitoring and evaluation of important issues, targets and programmes in and beyond the government that pertain to the vulnerable. One of the main concerns in the sector is its inability to assert itself, whether in monitoring, co-ordinating or pursuing outcomes such as the 2% target set in 2005 by the government for the employment of disabled people in the public service by March 2010. According to the most recent employment equity report, this is at about 0.9%. The national strategic plan is short on how to address these oversight and monitoring problems.The department`s budget, increased from R143.1-million in 2011-2012 to R172.2-million in this financial year, is still woefully low. Seen in the context of the R240-million being spent on President Jacob Zuma`s personal home and that the department`s current budget represents 0.01% of the national fiscus, it would seem to be insulting to women, children and people with disabilities, particularly in a country with extremely high rates of gender-based violence, child abuse, entrenched patriarchy in both the workplace and broader society, and a structural disregard for people with disabilities. It is also staggering that the department`s current budget allocations for travel and subsistence surpasses its total allocation for disability programmes.The long-awaited Women Empowerment and Gender Equity Bill has finally been approved by the Cabinet, gazetted and is now available for public comment. But NGOs have criticised it for being too wide-ranging in the areas it covers and for duplicating existing legislation. The department has also been weak in overseeing and reporting on the implementation of existing legislation, including the Domestic Violence Act and the Recognition of Customary Marriages Act.If the minister can impress on the Cabinet the need for more money and can use it better, the perception that the government pays only lip service to the rights and needs of the most vulnerable in society could change.