Editorial note

Editorial note

Date: February 6, 2012
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Welcome to the 23nd edition of the Roadmap to Equality! Tracking progress towards the implementation and ratification of the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development.

Seychelles is set to become the first SADC country to develop a national gender policy that will be closely aligned to the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development targets to be achieved by 2015. Drafting of a costed national gender action plan, which will provide a framework for the operationalisation of the gender policy, began in earnest at a gender-mainstreaming workshop held from 20 – 26 January 2012 in Victoria on the Mah’e Island.

Linda Williams, Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Social Development and Culture who provides oversight to the Gender Secretariat emphasised the importance of the milestone because it is the country’s first national gender policy and action plan.

“The national gender policy and plan of action will act as a road map to guide us on how we are to get to where we want to be (achieving gender equality). Without a detailed and accurate map we cannot hope to strike a true path towards our final destination. It is our hope that this framework, which we have developed together, is well understood and owned by all partners.

Seychelles is the second SADC country to produce a costed gender action plan after Namibia developed their national gender action plan in October in 2011. The two countries are taking cue from the SADC Secretariat’s Gender Unit that urged Member States to develop national plans aligned to the SADC Gender Protocol at a SADC Gender and Development Conference held in 2011.

The SADC region is abuzz as Dr Nkosazana Zuma, South African Minister of Home Affairs intensifies her campaign to become the first woman chair of the African Union. Her success record in politics and her transformative leadership style shows that women are capable leaders and more special measures should be put in place in the region and beyond to ensure that they occupy high level decision making positions.

Mauritius has set a good example by passing of the Local Government Bill that saw the introduction of a gender quota in local government elections in December 2011. The country follows other SADC countries like Lesotho, Namibia, Tanzania and Mozambique who have some form of legislated quota system mainly targeting the local level. Louis Hervé Aimée, Mauritius’ Minister of Local Government and Outer Islands featured in this edition as the gender champion for his role in ensuring that the Bill is passed, says this is a progressive move widely accepted by all sectors.

Namibia however has a chance to ensure that legislated quota at local level (30% seats reserved for women) applies at national level as the country undertakes electoral reforms. Currently the country is doing consistently well at local government level where there is a high representation of women (42%). On the contrary, in the absence of a legislated quota at national level performance has been intermittent. For example, the November 2009 parliamentary elections witnessed a significant drop in women representation from 30.8% to 23%.

Hervé Aimée asserts that, “Though no similar provision exists so far at the national level, the forthcoming local government elections will see a three-fold rise in women candidates in the urban areas, and more than a five-fold increase in the rural areas. Such an increase in the pool of women politicians should invariably bode well for further progression at the national level, with or without legislative amendment”.

Mauritius case study on the adoption of the gender quota in local elections will be show cased at the third annual regional Gender Justice and Local Government Regional Summit and Awards to be hosted by Gender Links from 18 -20 April 2012 in Johannesburg, South Africa. The Summit will bring together various stakeholders particularly from the 117 councils that are part of the Gender Links’ Centres of Excellence initiative. An award ceremony will recognise good practices which demonstrate how gender mainstreaming in local government has contributed to changing lives, improving service delivery and institutional practice. Besides local government is the sphere of governance that is closest to the people.

It is encouraging that women are breaking new ground as Zambian President Michael Sata appoints the first female Brigadier General and Mauritius witnessed the first six female fire fighters recruited. This gives hope to the Southern Africa Gender Protocol Alliance regional Peace and Security Cluster that the region is slowly but surely making progress towards implementing UN Resolution 1325 at regional and national level. The cluster has gone on outline the 2012 priority actions as detailed in the Alliance news section of this edition.

Till next time!

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