Southern Africa: Minister launches 2014 SADC Gender Protocol Barometer

Southern Africa: Minister launches 2014 SADC Gender Protocol Barometer

Date: September 9, 2014
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Harare, 28 July: Oppah Muchinguri, Zimbabwe Minister of Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development who was the guest speaker at the 10th Southern African Civil Society Forum, launched the 2014 SADC Gender Protocol Barometer, produced by Gender Links and the Southern Africa Gender Protocol Alliance.

Muchinguri said the Barometer is a great monitoring tool that tracks governments’ progress toward achieving the 28 targets of the SADC Gender Protocol by 2015. Since the baseline Barometer in 2009, the Alliance has produced a Barometer each year. Muchinguri said it pushes governments, academia, business and civil society to engage and commit to gender equality.

The Minister highlighted some of the achievements that have been made by the SADC region in attaining gender equality. Although no country has reached the 5050 target, women’s overall representation in parliament has increased by 2%, from 24% in 2013 to 26% in 2014. Women’s representation in local government increased from 23% to 24%. Sadly, the proportion of women in SADC cabinets dropped from 22% to 21%. Thus since 2008 SADC has seen a five percentage point increase in women’s representation in parliament, from 21% to 26%. The global average of women in parliament increased from 16% to 22% over the same period.

Muchinguri praised SADC countries for having constitutions that include non-discriminatory clauses. According to the Barometer, 13 out of 15 SADC countries now have affirmative action provisions that have a bearing on gender in their constitution. She applauded states for progress in the education sector, but highlighted the variances in countries: less than half of the 15 SADC states have achieved the gender parity targets at each of the three educational levels – primary, secondary and tertiary.

Although SADC deserved the applaud, she said that the gaps remaining need to be urgently addressed, citing women’s lack of representation in economic decision-making as a cause for concern in the region. She said her Ministry has prioritised aligning laws to the Constitution to ensure women participate in the economy. “It has emerged that regional and national economic performance do not take into account the contribution of women especially those in the agriculture, mining and informal sectors. Women account for a large portion of informal and cross border traders.”

Minister Muchinguri lamented the ongoing scourge of gender based violence across the region, despite strong legislation in place. Studies in six SADC countries found that 89% of women in Zambia’s four districts of Kitwe, Mansa, Kasama and Mazabuka; 86% of women in Lesotho, 68% of women in Zimbabwe, 67% of women in Botswana; 50% of women in South Africa’s Gauteng, Western Cape; Kwazulu Natal and Limpopo provinces and 24% of women in Mauritius have experienced GBV.

However, the Government of Zimbabwe has recently set up an Inter-Ministerial Committee on rape and GBV as a means of strengthening mechanisms of prevention and response to increased incidents of violence. The research has also helped to strengthen National Action Plans on fighting GBV.
The launch of the 2014 SADC Gender Protocol Barometer comes at a time when the region is counting down to the 2015 deadline to achieve 50/50 and equality for women and men in all aspects of life, be it social, economic and political. Thus the 2014 Barometer places special focus on the need for SADC and the world to strengthen, reposition, and re-strategise for 2030 in the post 2015 agenda. The Barometer argues that the post 2015 agenda needs to make sure these numerical targets are met, but also move beyond that, to measuring gender responsive governance.

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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