Southern Africa: Gender Alliance calls on Zimbabwe to advance equality

Southern Africa: Gender Alliance calls on Zimbabwe to advance equality

Date: October 28, 2014
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Harare, 28 July: Oppah Muchinguri, Zimbabwe’s Minister of Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development spoke yesterday at the 10th SADC Civil Society Forum and the launch of the 2014 SADC Gender Protocol Barometer, which measures progress to achieving the SADC Gender Protocol.

Muchinguri urged Southern African governments to implement laws and protocols that promote gender equality in their countries. “It is pleasing that most gender pieces of legislation have non-discrimination clauses and affirmative action provisions but there is need for governments to enforce these laws and transform them into reality. In Zimbabwe, we also urge the government to speed up the alignment of laws,” Muchinguri said.

Muchinguri hailed SADC countries for enacting laws that have seen an increase in the participation of women in parliament and government through putting in place legislative quotas. She praised the Zimbabwean government in particular increasing the number of women in Parliament from 17% before the enactment of the quota system to the current levels of 34% achieved in the 2013 elections, but emphasised the need to apply the quota to local government which had seen a decline of women from 19% to 16%.

According to Colleen Lowe Morna, Gender Links Chief Executive Officer, the Protocol was commended by participants at the 58th Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) held in New York in March, since its targets for gender equality go beyond those entailed in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Like the MDGs, the Protocol target deadline is 2015.

While acknowledging great strides taken by SADC governments to put gender issues on their agenda, Morna said plural legal systems such as customary and traditional laws posed challenges to women’s constitutional rights. Furthermore, negative perceptions of female leadership, high levels of HIV and AIDS in the region, women’s limited access to sexual and reproductive health rights and an increase in gender-based violence were also cited as major stumbling blocks to achieving gender equality.

With these hurdles in mind as well as the 2015 deadline looming, the SADC Gender Protocol Alliance has gone further to strategise about the strengthening, review and revision of the Protocol for post-2015.

The Alliance thus called on Zimbabwe, the new chair of SADC, for strong leadership to take forward a powerful message to the Heads of State Summit in August. The Alliance and civil society want greater commitment to 5050, gender equality targets in the current Protocol to be sped up as well as the adoption of a stronger post-2015 gender agenda.

This article is part of the GL News Service special coverage of the SADC Civil Society Forum underway in Zimbabwe, offering fresh views on everyday news.


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