Women in Politics & Decision-Making

Women offer different perspectives and interests in the decision-making process, from their unique experiences which are often overlooked due to under-representation in  political and decision-making positions. Southern African Development Community (SADC) Member States are proactively working towards equal representation of men and women in politics and decision-making positions at all levels such as in Cabinet, Parliament, Council, Management of the Public Services, Chief Executive Officers and Boards of State-Owned Enterprises/Parastatals as well as the Private sector. A number of countries, including Angola, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania and Zimbabwe, have on average more than 30 % women’s representation in the upper and lower houses of parliament. A number of countries have legislated minimum quotas for women’s representation in parliaments. In 2012 Her Excellency Mrs. Joyce Banda made history when she ascended to Presidency following the demise the Former President His Excellency Bingu wa Mutarika. She is the first woman president in Malawi and the first woman Head of State in all of SADC.

The Protocol

Article 12 of the Revised SADC Protocol on Gender and Development requires that “State Parties shall endeavour to ensure equal and effective representation of women in decision making positions in the political, public and private sectors including through the use of special measures as provided for in Article 5”. The SADC Member States have committed to reporting on an annual basis the status of women in politics and decision-making positions to facilitate monitoring of progress in this area. In addition, the SADC Gender Protocol Barometer produced by the Southern Africa Gender Protocol Alliance is another mechanism that is aimed at measuring progress in the implementation of the SADC Gender Protocol by the Member States. It is updated annually by measuring the success of these commitments at the Member State level.

Article 13 of the Protocol on Gender and Development goes one step further and calls for participation that ensures equal opportunities for women and men in the electoral process. Women increasingly play a significantly active political role in the SADC region.