SADC Ministers of Gender and Women’s Affairs express concern on high GBV in the Region

SADC – Ministers Responsible for Gender and Women’s Affairs from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) have expressed concern about the high prevalence of Gender Based Violence (GBV) in the Region and urged Member States to develop effective and sustainable GBV prevention programmes.

This came out of the Ministers’ meeting held on 10 June 2022 in Lilongwe, Malawi, to review progress on the implementation of gender and development programmes in the Region, as well as the revised SADC Protocol on Gender and Development.

The Ministers urged Member States to improve GBV data collection and implement the SADC Regional Strategy and Framework of Action for Addressing GBV as part of the regional integration agenda’s efforts to achieve gender equality and promote peace and security.

They approved the SADC Gender and Development Monitor on Women in Politics and Decision-making for 2022, with emphasis on Articles 5, 12 and 13 of the Protocol on Representation, Participation, and Special Measures, which aim to achieve gender parity in political and decision-making roles.

The Ministers also approved the extension of the SADC Strategy on Women, Peace, and Security from 2022 to 2030 to support the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security, which addresses the impact of conflict on women and the importance of women’s full and equal participation in conflict resolution, peacebuilding, peacekeeping, humanitarian response, and post-conflict reconstruction.

In implementing the SADC Regional Multi-dimensional Women Economic Empowerment Programme (RMD-WEEP) 2020-2030, Ministers reviewed progress on the SADC Industrialisation and Women’s Economic Empowerment Project (IWEE Project). This project aims to increase women-owned businesses’ and female entrepreneurs’ participation in value addition for selected sectors and regional value chains (RVCs). 

Ministers also approved the Revised Gender Mainstreaming Resource Kit, which supports gender mainstreaming across several sectors. The kit contains 10 sector-specific modules which provide practical guidance on gender mainstreaming in regional integration priority sectors. 

The Ministers urged Member States that have not yet signed and ratified the Revised SADC Protocol on Gender and Development to do so to facilitate implementation of the protocol. The Protocol aims to empower women, eliminate discrimination, and achieve gender equality by encouraging and harmonising gender responsive legislation, policies, programmes, and projects. 

In her opening remarks, Honourable Nancy Tembo, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Malawi and Chairperson of the SADC Council of Ministers, praised Member States for seizing the unique opportunity to discuss policy issues and for gracing a platform to share insights, experiences, and lessons. 

She said gender equality is a critical component and contributing factor to SADC Member States and the Region’s long-term development. Hon. Tembo advocated for equal recognition and the creation of a favourable environment in which both men and women could continue to enjoy their full rights without any infringement or oppression, with equal employment opportunities, businesses, access to financial institutions, and representation in leadership positions.

Hon. Dr Patricia Kaliati, Minister of Gender, Community Development and Social Welfare of the Republic of Malawi, chaired the meeting in her capacity as the Chairperson for SADC Ministers Responsible for Gender and Women’s Affairs. She underscored (in her address) the Region’s determination to fully cultivate a robust approach embedded in the Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP 2020-2030), which will see a meaningful change of the gender agenda interwoven in many SADC programmes and projects. 

She highlighted a number of barriers and situations that prevent women and girls from achieving gender parity, and called for an accelerated implementation of regional protocols, strategies, policies, and programmes to support women’s efforts by encouraging them to participate in growth and progress toward a better future.

As part of the regional integration agenda’s efforts to achieve gender equality and promote peace and security, Hon. Kaliati called for the active promotion of effective GBV prevention initiatives, and highlighted physical and social misfortunes that befall women and girls, including defilement, rape, HIV/AIDS, and limited access to productive resources.

SADC Deputy Executive Secretary for Corporate Affairs, Ambassador Joseph Nourrice, highlighted (in his remarks) a number of tools developed in line with the RISDP 2020-2030 priorities on Gender Equality and Development and with the goal of attaining gender parity, equality, equity, and particularly empowerment of women and girls.

Ambassador Nourrice praised Member States for their achievements and efforts in mainstreaming gender equality into key policy areas, and advocated for active promotion of the gender machinery through active participation of all institutional players in the public, private, and voluntary sectors.

The meeting was attended physically and virtually by Ministers or their representatives from 13 Member States, namely Angola, Botswana, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Eswatini, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, the United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.