The Southern African Development Community (SADC) Ministers responsible for Gender and Women's Affairs have been called upon to step up their efforts in order to achieve gender equality and women empowerment.
The Minister of Women in the Office of the Presidency, Republic of South Africa who is also the Chairperson of the Committee of Ministers responsible for Gender and Women Affairs, Honourable Bathabile Dlamini and the Executive Secretary of SADC, Her Excellency Dr Stergomena Lawrence Tax, made the call on 5th July, 2018 at the opening of the meeting of the committee of Ministers responsible for Gender and Women Affairs held in Johannesburg, South Africa.
In her Remarks H.E. Dr Tax said SADC places gender firmly on the SADC Regional Integration Programme of Action and Agenda, and recognises Gender as an important cross-cutting issue and enabler of regional integration. She said, because of its importance, Gender issues are enshrined in strategic SADC instruments and is operationalised through the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development.
The SADC Executive Secretary commended Member States for the continued progress towards women empowerment, citing the improvement in the representation of women in political and decision-making positions at various levels of governance, including the main institutions of State namely; the Legislature, the Executive and the Judiciary.
H.E. Dr Tax, however, said the SADC region needs to step up efforts towards gender equality and women empowerment, noting that women representation in decision making bodies falls short of the 50:50 target. She added that, 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.
On her part, Honourable Bathabile Dlamini said time has come for SADC Member States to reverse the structural inequalities that have historically excluded women from the development processes of the region. The Minister urged the Ministers responsible for Gender and Women Affairs to work extra hard to implement the commitments and decisions that ensure women empowerment and gender equality in the SADC region.
"We must guarantee policies that provide access to land, water, technology and financing to mention just but a few and women's access to social protection, security, health, education and decent work, along with a life free of gender-based violence," she said.
Honourable Dlamini expressed concern over incidences of Gender Based Violence, including Trafficking in Persons (TIP) that are prevalent in the region. On this note, the Honourable Minister called for new innovative and targeted public security response to protect and ensure the security of citizens, particularly women and children.
The Revised SADC Protocol on Gender and Development which was adopted in 2013 provides for the empowerment of women, elimination of discrimination, and the promotion of gender equality and equity through gender-responsive legislation, policies, programmes and projects.
Annually, the SADC Secretariat prepares an annual SADC Gender and Development Monitor, a regional progress report on the implementation of the Protocol which is consolidated based on the national reports from all Member States.