The Executive Secretary of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) His Excellency Mr Elias M. Magosi has reiterated SADC’s commitment to the advancement of gender equity in innovation and technological change and to the empowerment of all women and girls in the SADC region.
H.E. Magosi expressed the commitment in his message marking the International Women Day on 8th March, 2023 under the global theme “DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality and this year’s Campaign is “#EmbraceEquity”, which makes a clarion call for increased access to development resources, benefits, and opportunities to embrace the quality of being fair, just, and right for either men or women.
While recognising that advancements in digital technology offer immense opportunities to address development challenges, H.E. Magosi said it is regrettable that the opportunities of the digital revolution present a risk of perpetuating existing patterns of gender inequality, with growing inequalities becoming increasingly evident in the context of digital skills and access to technologies, whereby women are left behind as the result of this digital gender divide.
“SADC has resolved to build a society where women are respected, cherished, and afforded the same opportunities as men through the implementation of the SADC Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP 2020-2030)”, H.E. Magosi said.
In order to promote Women's empowerment, address gender stereotypes, and explore how to embrace equity, the SADC Executive Secretary underlined the importance of implementing the provisions of SADC instruments that seek to elevate women’s participation in innovation and digital technologies such as the SADC Charter on establishing the Women in Science, Engineering and Technology Organization; Regional Framework on Intellectual Property; Regional Framework and Guidelines on the establishment and strengthening Centres of Excellence and Centres of Specialisation; SADC Cyber-Infrastructure Framework; and the Regional Innovation and Technology Transfer Framework and Action Plan among others.
The SADC Executive Secretary urged Member States to take special measures to increase the number of girls taking up Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects and Information Communication Technology (ICT) at the secondary, tertiary and higher levels, as stipulated in the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development.
He added that, in pursuing the development and advancement of Digital Transformation and Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR), the SADC region and African continent need to put in place appropriate regulations and laws to safeguard data protection, privacy, security, and ethical standards.
Every year on 8th March, SADC joins the International Community to commemorate International Women’s Day as part of the region’s resolve to support women to achieve their full potential.