The SADC Committee of Ministers responsible for Gender and Women’s Affairs have called for strengthened efforts for women’s empowerment in order to achieve gender equality and equity.
This was the key message coming out of their meeting held on 29 May 2019 in Windhoek, Republic of Namibia, which was convened to review progress in the implementation of the SADC Gender Programme in general, and the implementation of the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development.
The meeting was attended by Angola, Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
The Minister of Gender Equality and Child Welfare of the Republic of Namibia, Honourable Doreen Sioka, in her capacity as Chairperson of the Committee, buttressed the importance of the year 2020 as a year of reflection and celebration of the following key milestones:
i) the 20th Anniversary of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security;
ii) the twenty-fifth (25th) anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on Women and adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (1995);
iii) five-years since the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development; and
iv) the expiration year of the Revised SADC Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP) 2015-2020.
Honourable Sioka also called upon SADC Member States to assess progress towards attainment of gender equality in the Region, and document and celebrate achievements as a region. Additionally, Member States need to forge the way forward on how to address and overcome challenges in addressing gender inequality in a holistic manner.
SADC Ministers should utilise existing data, move from words to action, and to allocate adequate resources in order to rectify the gender inequality persisting in the region, said Honourable Sioka.
The SADC Executive Secretary, Dr. Stergomena Lawrence Tax, highlighted that SADC places high priority on achieving gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls by mainstreaming gender in all sectors. She encouraged Member States that will be holding elections in 2019 to strengthen women’s participation in politics and decision-making processes, by among others, creating a conducive environment for inclusive electoral processes through cultural transformation and legislative reviews.
Furthermore, Dr Tax commended the Republic of Seychelles for having reached the 50:50 gender parity in Cabinet, and called upon all SADC Member States to put in place adequate measures to reach the 50:50 threshold.
The meeting received reports on progress in the areas of Women, Peace and Security, and the implementation of the SADC Regional Strategy for Addressing Gender Based Violence (2018-2030).
The meeting noted that the 2018 SADC Gender and Development Monitor, which among others monitors progress in the implementation of the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development, will be launched in August 2019, and Member States were encouraged to use its findings and implement its recommendations.
The 2019 Meeting of Ministers responsible for Gender/Women’s Affairs adopted the Regional Multi-Dimensional Women’s Economic Empowerment Programme (RMDWEEP), which aims to promote women’s economic empowerment and gender-responsive development.
The Committee also endorsed the Report of the Regional Comprehensive Gender Based Violence Study, the results of which will serve as baseline information for monitoring implementation of the Regional GBV Strategy.
The 2020 edition of the meeting of the SADC Committee of Ministers of Gender and Women’s Affairs will be held in the United Republic of Tanzania.