Women offer different perspectives and interests in the decision-making process, from their unique experiences which are often overlooked due to under-representation in political and decision making positions. Southern African Development Community (SADC) Member States are proactively working towards equal representation of men and women politics and decision making positions at all levels such as in Cabinet; Parliament, Council, Management of the Public Services, Chief Executive Officers and Boards of State Owned Enterprises/Parastatals as well as the Private sector. A number of countries, including Angola, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Tanzania, have on average more than 30 % women’s representation in the upper and lower houses of parliament. In Lesotho, 58 % of local government positions are filled by women. A number of countries have legislated minimum quotas for women’s representation in parliaments. In 2012 Her Excellency Mrs. Joyce Banda made history when she ascended to Presidency following the demise the Former President His Excellency Bingu wa Mutarika. She is the first woman president in Malawi and the first woman Head of State in all of SADC.
Article 12 of the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development (2008) requires that “States Parties shall endeavor that, by 2015, at least fifty percent of decision-making positions in the public and private sectors are held by women including the use of affirmative action measures as provided for in Article 5.
The SADC Gender Protocol Barometer produced by the Southern Africa Gender Protocol Alliance is one document, that is aimed at measuring progress in the implementation of the SADC Gender Protocol by the Member States.It is updated annually by measuring the scuccess of these commitments at the Member State level. According to the SADC Gender Protocol Barometer, representation of women in parliament within the SADC regions increased from an average of 21% in 2005 to 25% in 2011. Compared to the 3% to 19% global average these numbers are impressive; however, overall, the 2011 average is still only half way to the target of 50% women representation by 2015.
Article 13 of the Protocol on Gender and Development goes one step further and specifies goals for participation that ensures equal opportunities in the electoral process. In the three countries assessed - Botswana, South Africa and Tanzania - women outnumbered men as voters. Although the 50% representation target may not be reached by 2015, women increasingly play a significantly active political role in the SADC region.
- Protocol on Gender and Development
- SADC Framework For Achieving Gender Parity in Political and Decision Making Positions by 2015
- The Gender Monitor series
- SADC Gender Protocol Barometer 2011
- SADC Gender Protocol Barometer 2010
- SADC Gender Protocol Barometer 2009