The Southern African Development Community (SADC) Executive Secretary has urged the SADC member states to place gender firmly on the SADC Regional Integration Programme of Action and Agenda, and recognise Gender as an important cross-cutting issue and enabler of regional integration, as enshrined in its strategic instruments, and as operationalised through the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development.
Dr Stergomena Lawrence-Tax delivered these remarks during a meeting of the SADC Ministers responsible for gender and women affairs held in South Africa recently.
The remarks were published through the SADC Secretariat on Friday with Dr Lawrence-Tax quoted as saying the Ministerial Committee of the Organ (MCO) noted with concern, the high prevalence rate of Gender Based Violence (GBV) in the SADC region.
This matter, was further discussed during a Joint Meeting of Ministers Responsible for Gender and Ministerial Committee of the Organ which was held in August 2016 in Maputo, Mozambique, where the Secretariat was directed to mobilise resources and conduct a Comprehensive Gender Based Violence study.
She said the study is to come up with indicators that will serve as a baseline on the prevalence of GBV in the region.
”I am happy to report that the study has commenced, a report of which, will be presented at your next meeting. We therefore appeal to SADC Member States to provide the required information that will enable Secretariat to carry out a credible study, with reliable baseline data”, she said.
She stated that the Secretariat was also directed to finalise the Regional Dimension Women Economic Empowerment Programme (RMDWEEP) and informed participants of the meeting that during the year, the Secretariat has been able to mobilise resources, and a process towards the finalisation of the RMDWEEP is at an advanced stage, while progress will be presented during their next meeting.
She urged them to report progress made towards the implementation of the Protocol on Gender and Development, adding that it is worth noting that the Regional Progress Report is prepared based on national Reports, which are consolidated into the annual SADC Gender and Development Monitor.
Dr Lawrence-Tax said the quality of the Gender and Development Monitor, and its timely preparation depends on submissions by Member States of National Progress Reports and to this effect she called upon SADC Member States, Lesotho included, to strengthen their monitoring and evaluation systems, and in doing so, facilitate collection, collation, and submission of reliable and accurate data, in a timely manner.
She highlighted that SADC Member States continue to make progress towards women empowerment as guided by the various parameters that are used to monitor the empowerment of women.
According to the Gender Monitor 2016, representation by women in political and decision-making positions at various levels of governance, including the main four institutions of State, the Legislature, the Executive and the Judiciary, continues to improve, despite the fact that it fell short of the 50:50 target for 2015.
While such progress is being made, the performance continues to be mixed across the region with some Member States doing well in facilitating quantitative and qualitative gender parity in decision-making positions, and others not so well.
According to the Gender Barometer 2017, the SADC region is less than two thirds, where it needs to be, to achieve gender equality by 2030. This was the key message of the 2017 Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) Gender Barometer: the inaugural audit of the status of women against the Post- 2015 SADC Protocol on Gender and Development.
The Executive Secretary therefore commended Member States for their efforts and the progress recorded so far. The progress is a result of the efforts and commitment by all SADC Member States to attain full gender empowerment.
Nonetheless, as highlighted before, more needs to be done, in order to achieve the targets that have been agreed upon at all levels, including the regional, continental and global, towards women empowerment and gender equity, she concluded.