The Southern African Development Community (SADC) Ministers responsible for Gender and Women's Affairs convened a virtual meeting to review progress made in the implementation of the SADC Gender Programme on 26th August 2021.
The Ministerial Meeting, chaired by the Republic of Malawi, was attended by SADC Ministers or their representatives from Angola, Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Eswatini, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The meeting was also attended by United Nations Agencies, development partners and some regional civil society organisations.
Honourable Dr Patricia Annie Kaliati, Minister of Gender, Community Development and Social Welfare of Malawi, delivered the official remarks and highlighted that it is important to realise that the SADC Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP) does not only identify gender as an important cross cutting issue but also recognises gender equality and women's empowerment as important enablers of regional integration.
Therefore, as enshrined in Article 4 and Article 5 (1) (k) of the Declaration and Treaty of SADC, gender mainstreaming should place gender equality issues at the centre of analyses and policy decisions, thus making gender an integral process of community building. The SADC Treaty further stipulates that gender equality should be at the very centre of sustainable development.
SADC Deputy Executive Secretary for Corporate Affairs, His Excellency Ambassador Joseph Nourrice, in his welcome remarks, said full attainment of the ideals set out in SADC blueprint documents requires strengthening and reforming of institutions, increasing financing, bolstering monitoring and evaluation, and enhancing accountability.
He highlighted that the Secretariat is committed to play the think-tank role by committing to initiating, developing, strengthening, monitoring, reforming, and evaluating legislation, strategies, policies, programmes, rules and regulations, and offering advice on/and soliciting budgets that support the empowerment of women and girls and the achievement of gender equality along with emerging issues and challenges.
Ambassador Nourrice reiterated SADC's commitment in prioritising achieving gender equality and empowering women as a central ambition of the post-2015 sustainable development agenda to reach gender parity by 2030 as reflected in the revised RISDP 2020-2030. He emphasised the need to ensure women's full and effective participation and equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision-making in political, economic, and public life and elimination of all forms of violence against women and girls.
The Ministers approved the Draft Regional Guidelines on Developing and Implementing National Gender Action Plans and their recommendations and encouraged the use of these Guidelines by Member States to strengthen development, implementation, monitoring, and coordination of national gender policies, strategies and action plans, including allocation of the necessary resources. They urged the SADC Secretariat to expedite the processes of implementation of the SADC-GIZ Project on Industrialisation and Women's Economic Empowerment (IWEE) and disseminate information to Member States about the Project to guide the participation of relevant sectors from Member States in this Project and also urged Member States to fully participate in the implementation of this Project upon engagement by the SADC Secretariat and other project stakeholders.
The Ministers responsible for Gender and Women Affairs approved the Draft Regional Gender Based Violence (GBV) Training Guidelines for use by Member States; Draft Regional Guidelines on Developing Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and Referral Mechanisms on GBV; and the Draft Report of the Regional Inventory and Review of Sexual and Gender Based Violence Legislation to support legal reform at national level. The Ministers further encouraged Member States to make an input in the drafting process of the SADC Model Law on GBV.
Hon. Dr. Kaliati called upon the Member States to strengthen efforts towards attaining gender parity by 2030 by addressing related barriers, noting the slow progress towards the attainment of gender parity in politics and decision making in the SADC Region.