The SADC Secretariat collaborated with the SADC Parliamentary Forum (SADC-PF) and other development partners in conducting a consultative workshop on Gender Based Violence (GBV) with Members of Parliament through the Regional Parliamentary Women’s Caucus. The workshop with the Parliamentarians aimed at:
i. sensitising Members of Parliament on the SADC Regional Strategy and Framework of Action for Addressing Gender Based Violence, 2018 – 2030; and
ii. discussing modalities on harmonizing and implementing legislation on Gender Based Violence, including consultation on establishing a GBV Model Law for SADC.
The workshop was held in Johannesburg, South Africa, from 27-28 September 2019, with representation of Members of Parliament from Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. In addition, parliamentary officials from Botswana were also in attendance.
As the host country, the workshop was officially opened by Honourable Thandi Modise, Speaker of the Parliament of South Africa. She highlighted the need to develop a model law on gender based violence as it will provide a yardstick against which Member States can strengthen their legislative response to GBV and accelerate implementation of the regional and national GBV plans. The Honourable Speaker emphasised the need for women Parliamentarians to be in solidarity against violence on women and girls.
In her key note address, the Chairperson of the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), Hilary Gbedemah noted that GBV affects the right to life, the right to equal protection, the right to just and favourable conditions of work and that States are therefore responsible to protect the violation of rights and punish perpetrators. She highlighted that CEDAW identifies violence against women as part of discrimination. She further added that monitoring GBV requires accurate data, therefore Statistical Agencies play a crucial role in collecting and consolidating data at national level. Ms Gbedemah also buttressed the need for Member States to constantly review laws in order to capture violence in all of its manifestations as violence against women transforms and mutates overtime. She further noted that GBV laws should include criminal and civil remedies.
The SADC Secretariat shared with Parliamentarians the Regional Strategy on GBV, emphasizing the role of Members of Parliament in implementation of the Strategy at national level through advocacy at all levels. The Secretariat also shared the results of the SADC Comprehensive Study on GBV to reflect the current status of GBV and related response efforts in the Region. The workshop is part of the 11th European Development Fund (EDF) Support to Peace and Security in the SADC Region Programme on strengthening the capacity of the region to effectively address the prevalence of sexual and gender-based violence.