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  • Women Economic Empowerment Programme

    One of SADC’s main objectives is to achieve sustainable development and economic growth, alleviate poverty, enhance the standard of living and quality of life of the people of Southern Africa and support the socially disadvantaged through regional integration. It’s a well known fact that women are the backbone of many African economies and also play key roles in the economies of each SADC Member State. Evidence has also revealed that women constitute more that 50% of the poor population in SADC and poverty can only be addressed through programmes which specifically target the majority of the poor.

    Economic empowerment of women not only positively impacts their own life situations but is also central to mobilising their potential for sustainable development and poverty alleviation. Women spend a higher percentage of their income on feeding and educating their children, which is aimed at the wellbeing of their families.  Economic independence of women, is crucial as it counteracts exploitation, feminization of poverty, discrimination and disregards of their fundamental human right. Gender equality at the economic level therefore contributes directly to the reduction of poverty and overall development.

    For a variety of reasons, inequalities exist between women and men throughout the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region. Women constitute the majority of the poor in the region for a number of reasons including high illiteracy rates, restrictive and discriminatory laws, and limited access to, and control over, productive resources.

    By recognising and eliminating gender inequalities there is great potential for women to act as a powerful resource for development in the SADC region. Consistent with the SADC Gender Programme, as stipulated by the Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan, SADC has developed a Women’s Economic Empowerment Framework.

    SADC Women’s Economic Empowerment Framework

    This strategic framework is intended as a step towards developing and implementing a regional Women’s Economic Empowerment Programme to facilitate strengthened coordination and implementation of the SADC region’s commitments on women’s economic empowerment.

    The Protocol

    Article 17 of the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development deals specifically with economic empowerment, and requires that Member States meet the following commitments by 2015:

    • Adopt policies and enact laws which ensure equal access, benefit and opportunities for women and men in trade and entrepreneurship, taking into account the contribution of women in the formal and informal sectors;
    • Review their national trade and entrepreneurship policies, to make them gender responsive; and
    • With regard to the affirmative action provisions in Article 5, introduce measures to ensure that women benefit equally from economic opportunities, including those created through public procurement process.

    Relevant Documents

    Responsible Unit