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    The Southern African Development Community (SADC) has a vision of durable peace, freedom and social justice, equitable development and sustained economic prosperity for the people of Southern Africa. SADC Member States undertook, in the SADC Treaty Article 6(2), not to discriminate against any person on the grounds of inter alia, sex or gender. SADC Member States have committed to mainstreaming gender into the SADC Programme of Action and Community Building initiatives as a prerequisite for sustainable development. The goals to deepen regional integration and strengthen community building can only be realised by eliminating Gender inequalities and marginalisation of women throughout the SADC region. It is therefore of paramount importance that appropriate policies, legislation, programmes, projects and activities aimed at ensuring gender equality and women’s empowerment are implemented in all SADC Member States.

    The Protocol

    SADC Heads of State and Government signed and adopted the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development in August 2008 with the exception of Botswana and Mauritius. Out of the 13 Member States that have signed, 11 have already ratified the Protocol. The Objectives of the Protocol are among others to provide for the empowerment of women, to eliminate discrimination and to achieve gender equality and equity through the development and implementation of gender responsive legislation, policies, programmes and projects. It also seeks to harmonise the various international, continental and regional gender equality instruments that SADC Member States have subscribed to such as the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), Beijing Declaration and its Platform of Action, The  Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa, and the Millennium Development goals(MDGs) amongst others. Therefore, the Protocol consolidates and creates synergies between various commitments on gender equality and women’s empowerment into one comprehensive regional instrument that enhances the capacity to plan, implement and monitor the SADC Gender agenda effectively.

    Preceding the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development, SADC Council of Ministers adopted the SADC Gender Policy (2007). SADC Heads of State and Government also signed the SADC Declaration on Gender and Development in September 1997, followed by its Addendum on the Prevention and Eradication of Violence against Women and Children in September 1998.

    SADC has identified key priority areas for Gender and Development with a view to accelerate progress in the achievement of gender equality and women’s empowerment that include the following among others: