The SADC Secretariat hosted the SADC Symbolic launch of the Corrections/ Prisons Women’s Network in Gaborone, Botswana at Travel Lodge on 15th May 2019. The symbolic launch of the Corrections/ Prisons Women’s Network was mainly aimed at recognizing the Women’s Network as a formal arm of the SADC Corrections/ Prisons Sub Committee. The network is intended to amongst others; coordinate and conduct research on Corrections/Prisons female Officers issues; identify regional training needs for Corrections/Prisons female Officers; assess the readiness of Women Prison Officers to participate in peace keeping missions; and raise awareness and understanding of the work of the network and issues affecting women in corrections/prisons.
Representing the SADC Executive Secretary, Her Excellency Dr Stergomena Lawrence Tax, the Director Organ on Politics Defence and Security Cooperation, Mr. Jorge Cardoso said he was delighted to have been accorded the opportunity to recognize women in Prison Services as part of the diversity which is desirable in Prisons/ Correctional Services. Mr. Cardoso underscored that Women Correctional Officers play a differentiated role in the Criminal Justice system and their value cannot be overlooked as they are natural nurturers and builders.
The Director also alluded to the UN Resolution 1325 which acknowledges the importance of women’s equal participation and full involvement in all efforts, for the maintenance and promotion of peace and security. This notion is also outlined in the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development which provides for the empowerment of women, elimination of discrimination and achievement of gender equality through the development and implementation of gender responsive legislation, policies, programmes and projects.
The Commissioner for Zambian Prisons Service, Ms. Martha Ngomma-Sinkaniba said that the idea of the establishment of the correctional women’s network was through the realisation that very few women held decision making positions in both the defence and security sectors; a situation that compromises objective, effective and efficient management in the defence and security sector. She further pointed out that peace cannot be guaranteed and sustained unless women are equal and active participants in formulating political, economic and social policy.
The Network was constituted to comprise representatives of the Corrections/Prisons Female Officers from the SADC Member States, and also include other relevant individuals whom the Women Network may deem resourceful to their cause. The network’s mandate includes amongst other critical responsibilities; the coordination of the Women’s Network regional activities; identification of policy gaps in the advancement of female Corrections/Prisons Officers, proposal of Policy development in order to advance Corrections/Prisons female Officers; and to influence reforms and advocate for compliance to the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325; African Union Gender Policy and SADC Protocol on Gender and Development.
The launch will be followed by the development of an Action Plan that will outline clear and concise activities to be carried out by the Network to ensure lasting impact in the Region. The launch also received presentations on various subjects centred on the distinct role of the Network and Strategies that can ensure its full participation, The Head of Gender at the SADC Secretariat Dr Joseph Pitso gave the global perspective of Women and Security, Ms Keneilwe Bogosing, the Deputy Commissioner of the Botswana Prison Service presented on the evolution of Women Prison Officers and Senior Assistant Commissioner of the Botswana Police Service, Wilheminah Petje, gave insights into the practicalities of starting and sustaining a Women’s Network by bringing the experiences from the Regional Police Women’s Network