SADC Ministers responsible for Gender and Women’sAffairs meeting in Maputo, Mozambique on February 14, 2013 condemned the ongoing sexual violence against women, specifically rape, which tends to be used as a weapon of war during armed and post conflict, especially in the Eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). They called upon SADC and the UN Security Council to expedite the deployment of its Rapid Brigade to bring peace to the eastern part of the DRC and to adopt any other necessary measures to stop the violence.
The Meeting was convened to prepare the SADC position for the 57th UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) scheduled for New York from March 04 to 15, 2013 and to review Progress on the SADC Regional Gender Programme. Ministers acknowledged, with great concern, the high incidences of Violence Against Women and Girls, particularly domestic violence with its inter-linkage to HIV and AIDS and poverty.
The Ministers adopted the SADC Position for the 57th Session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), and the Draft Agreed Conclusions on the Priority Theme on the Elimination and prevention of all forms of violence against women and girls with inputs from the SADC region. The meeting reiterated the importance of key priority concerns for the SADC Region, amongst others, addressing domestic violence more effectively, dealing with the root causes of violence against women, developing robust sensitisation programmes, targeting families and communities especially in rural areas, and prioritisation of activities on socialisation with the view to change mind sets and attitudes as well as strengthening efforts towards the economic empowerment of women.
In addressing the scourge of high levels of violence against women and girls, the Ministers committed to initiate and advocate for high-level campaigns focusing on fundamental root causes of Violence Against Women and Girls and targeting the family, focusing on socialisation and encouraging traditional and religious leaders to intensify their efforts in the fight against Violence Against Women and Girls.
The Meeting noted progress on the status of the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development especially it’s recent entry into forceand commended the Ten (10) SADC Member States that ratified it, namely; Angola, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The meeting re-emphasised the importance of ensuring effective implementation of the Protocol.
Officially opening the meeting, Minister of Gender and Social Action of Mozambique, Hon. Iolanda Cintura-Seuane, highlighted the main and review themes for the 57th Session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) which are “The elimination and the prevention of all forms of violence against women and girls and “The sharing of responsibilities between women and men, including in care giving in the contexts of HIV and AIDS” respectively.
Hon. Cintura- Seuane hailed the adoption of the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development in 2008 and other regional and international instruments as a demonstration of commitment of SADC Member States in addressing Violence Against Women and Girls.She called for effective implementation of commitments to address violence against women and children and reiterated the need to place special emphasis on economic empowerment of women with the view to increase access to, control and management of resources as a means to reduce their vulnerability to dependency and violence.