Editorial note

Editorial note

Date: December 16, 2011
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Welcome to the 22nd edition of the Roadmap to Equality! Tracking progress towards the implementation and ratification of the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development.

As the curtain comes down on the Seventeen United Nations Conference of the Parties (COP 17) on climate change, while the developed countries may refuse to commit to the second period of the Kyoto Protocol beyond 2012, there is some reason to celebrate. Gender featured much higher on the agenda of the negotiations than in previous COPs according to reports from those closely associated with the process. Several sections of the text in the outcomes document have references to gender.

This could be attributed to the fact that there were high-powered women at the top – a testimony that women do bringtransformation when they occupy high levels of decision-making positions.

As South African Minister of International Relations and Cooperation as incumbent President of COP 17, Maite Nkoane Mashabane put it “sometimes it is not the numbers of women in the high positions that are needed (though numbers are important), it is the quality.”

Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UNFCC reassured women attending a side event on Women Leaders’ Commitments on Gender and Climate Change in Durban that women in the negotiations pushed for “high ambition” in the outcomes. They fought to ensure that developed nations commit to the climate green fund and other binding responsibilities and that women benefit from this. Discussions had started to ensure that the proportions are spelt out from the beginning but would be taken up at the next conference Rio +20 and COP 18.

The Southern Africa Gender Protocol Alliance has mounted a petition to call on SADC Governments to adopt an addendum or amendments to the SADC Gender Protocol to include climate change, disaster risk management and sustainable development. Click here to sign the petition.

Women including from the rural areas had a strong presence at the COP and held marches, climate change hearings and other activities to bring out how the climate change is impacting on them particularly its contribution to increasing their already heaven burden of responsibilities at household level.

Daily Links an online e-newspaper produced by Gender Links and African Women and Child Feature Service, on the margins of COP 17 made the links between the conference the 16 Days of Activism under the banner Gender and Climate Justice. The team produced ten editions that provided timely news, opinion and commentary service and first-hand accounts of women who had experienced gender violence. Click here to read the ten editions.

As per tradition, Southern African NGOs, local government, governments and communities teamed to raise awareness on violence against women. Gender Links partners with local government councils and NGOs under the banner: Peace begins at home – gender and climate justice by 2015! This edition features country highlights from a number of SADC countries and diaries of activists during the campaign. Read more about the 16 Days campaign.

Several other developments took place as implementation of the SADC Gender Protocol goes full steam ahead. After many years of lobbying and advocacy particularly from the Southern Africa Gender Protocol Alliance, Mauritius has passed a Local Government Bill in parliament that will see a legislated gender quota in local government elections. All parties are compelled field at least 30% of either sexes on any party list. This calls for a Constitutional amendment to allow positive discrimination. In addition, the cherry on top is that it will make way for the country to sign the SADC Gender Protocol because the issues around the Article on affirmative action which used to be the sticking point will fall away.

Seychelles is developing a national gender policy for the first time in the history of the country. This will be aligned to the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development. Following this, it will become the second country after Namibia to draft a costed gender action plan in the region. The national gender machinery held consultative workshop on 22 November 2011 to review the first draft and the process will continue into the first quarter of 2012 which will include gender mainstreaming training for all line ministries.

Jenni Williams founder and national coordinator of Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) who received the Government of France National Order of Merit Award in November 2011 emerges as this month’s gender champion.

In closing her acceptance speech she said. “May I remind you all that the 16 days Campaign begins today. Recently the Zimbabwe Republic Police reported that 124 women were raped in 11 days. In this harsh economic climate, there is no peace in our homes and women are the punching bag”.

Women of Southern Africa arise and put an end to gender based violence and climate injustice!

Till next time!


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