The Southern African Development Community (SADC) Secretariat, with the support of the European Union, is implementing the Support to Peace and Security in the SADC Region Programme (SPSS).
The SPSS Programme is, among other issues, aimed at enhancing capacity in SADC for gender-sensitive conflict prevention, management and resolution and for addressing the prevalence of sexual and gender-based violence.
The SADC Executive Secretary's report for the 2019/2020 financial year notes that GBV continues to be a challenge for the SADC Region in efforts towards achieving gender equality and promoting peace and security within the regional integration agenda. In this report, the SADC Executive Secretary Her Excellency Dr Stergomena Lawrence Tax, said through the SPSS Programme, the SADC Secretariat is developing tools to guide the regional response to GBV.
These tools include the Regional Sexual and Gender-based Violence Training Guidelines which will support capacity strengthening of frontline officers, especially law enforcement officers, at national level to ensure effective and efficient prevention and provision of comprehensive GBV services. The Training Guideline is also intended to build awareness among key service providers on gender-based violence, its impacts and consequences.
The second instrument under development is the Regional Guideline on Developing GBV Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and Referral Mechanisms. This Guideline is intended to provide Member States with steps to follow in the development and implementation of the GBV SOPs and referral mechanisms in order to facilitate access to quality, timely and appropriate services for GBV victims/ survivors. The Regional Guideline describes essential services to be provided to GBV victims by the health, social services, police and justice sectors and it provides overall guidance on coordination of essential GBV services at national level.
In addition, the Secretariat is developing a Regional Inventory of sexual and gender-based violence legislation. This exercise also includes conducting a rapid assessment of GBV laws and policies with recommendations to Member States for addressing existing gaps.
The SPSS Programme continues to support the wide dissemination of the SADC Strategy and Framework of Action for Addressing GBV (2018-2030) across the region and undertaking public education and awareness raising interventions. In addition, one of the key result areas of the SPSS Programme is to further strengthen SADC's capacity to address issues of SGBV by training service providers, in particular law enforcement officers, on effective response to GBV. Member States are also supported, based upon request, to review or develop their national GBV action plans. For example, Malawi was supported to conduct a national consultative forum to aid the review of the Malawi Action Plan on Ending Gender-Based Violence and to create a platform for discussing recommendations for review of GBV-related legislation. The Programme also specifically targets engagement of parliamentarians as policy makers and advocates for change in the response to GBV. In particular, platforms are created for engaging parliamentarians in understanding GBV and the related regional policy instruments, including their participation in the development of the SADC GBV Model Law.
SADC Member States continue to be urged to accelerate prevention and elimination of GBV and to strengthen resourcing and implementation of existing GBV laws and policies. Recognizing and tackling gender inequality as the root cause and driver of different forms of GBV is critical. Member States are also reminded to create platforms to allow for safe reporting, provision of shelters and places of safety for victims and survivors of GBV.