SADC Ministers Responsible for Gender and Women’s Affairs met in Lilongwe, Malawi on the 25 July 2014. The meeting was attended by Ministers and representatives from 14 SADC Member States – Angola, Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
The meeting was officially opened by the Chairperson of SADC, President of the Republic of Malawi, H.E. Prof. Peter Arthur Mutharika.His Excellency Prof. Mutharika was accompanied by the First Lady of the Republic of Malawi, Madam Gertrude Hendrina Mutharika, and Rt. Hon. Saulos Klaus Chilima, Vice- President of the Republic of Malawi as well as various Cabinet Ministers; Members of Parliament; religious and traditional leaders as well as members of the diplomatic missions.
The President expressed his commitment to gender equality and women’s empowerment especially to the implementation of the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development which is a commendable milestone for the SADC region. He expressed his sincere gratitude that since taking office, this meeting is his first SADC assignment and underscored the importance of gender equality and women’s empowerment, which is one of his core priorities.The President urged SADC Member States to accelerate implementation efforts towards the achievements of concrete and transformative changes in the lives of women and girls in our region.H.E. President Mutharika also expressed concern on the escalating incidences of gender based violence in the region, especially those perpetrated against women and girls, and used this occasion to sign a commitment to end child marriages, as part of the AU campaign to end Child Marriages in Africa.
The Ministers meeting reviewed progress on the implementation of the Regional Gender and Development programme activities especially those implemented during 2013/14 financial year as well as mapping the way forward to advance the regional gender agenda and women’s empowerment.The meeting agreed that harmonization of national gender policies with costed action plans aligned with the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development, is crucial to ensure its operationalization at national levels.The meeting also discussed and endorsed the draft Revised Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP) 2015-2020, particularly Priority D Special programmes on Gender and Development. Ministers emphasised the importance of mainstreaming gender in all sectors of regional integration. Similarly, the importance of Gender Responsive Budgeting initiatives at national level in line with the Regional Gender Budgeting guidelines was highlighted as crucial to achieving gender equality and women’s empowerment goals.