CSW59: Malawi Government opens its doors to civil society to advance gender equality

CSW59: Malawi Government opens its doors to civil society to advance gender equality

Date: May 13, 2015
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New York, 12 March: The Malawi government delegation is the attending the ongoing 59th session of the Commission on the Status on Women (CSW59) in New York, and has committed to join hands with Southern African countries to strengthen and renew the SADC Gender Protocol (SGP), which expires this year. The current SGP is aligned to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) which also expire in September. The review of the SGP provides an opportunity to strengthen the regional instrument in line with the global MDG review process and appointment of the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The commitment by the Malawi government brings hope to civil society efforts by ensuring that SADC governments make firm pledges ahead of the Protocol expiry. This move by the Malawi government comes a few weeks after the SADC Gender Protocol Alliance issued a press release calling for more tangible action to take the review process forward during a Council of Ministers meeting in Zimbabwe. As such the upcoming 2015 SADC Heads of State (HOS) Summit August, will be the last opportunity for civil society to engage with governments on the review.

The press release identified a leadership gap in SADC following a cabinet reshuffle in Zimbabwe, the current chair of the SADC Troika. The reshuffle resulted in the Minister of Women’s Affairs being assigned to another portfolio. Thus Zimbabwe currently does not have a Women’s Affairs minister. This is a major concern in light of the limited time available before the upcoming SADC HOS and the final months to implement the SGP.

Speaking at a round table meeting convened by the SADC Gender Protocol Alliance in New York, Malawi’s Minister of Gender Children, Disability and Social Welfare, Patricia Kaliati expressed the readiness of the government of Malawi to work with civil society in order to maintain the gains achieved since the adoption of the Protocol as well as to strengthen the current framework. “As one of the Troika members, Malawi is ready to assist in any way to ensure that the region does not lag behind. I rely on your support and commitment to work with member states and the SADC Gender Alliance,” said the Minister.

Kaliati recalled the positive commitment to review the current Protocol that was made at the Women’s Affairs meeting held in Malawi in July 2014 prior to the 2014 SADC Heads of States meeting. She recommended the Protocol be aligned with the SDGs and saying, “You might recall that the SADC Gender and Women Affairs Ministers committed themselves to review the Protocol. I would therefore like to invite all of you to contribute to the process as we work towards the improvement of the Protocol so that it addresses all the existent and emerging issues on gender equality and the empowerment of women.”

The Alliance Chairperson, Emma Kaliya thanked the Government of Malawi for opening its doors to the Alliance and for their continued support in pushing the gender equality agenda in the region. Malawi is leading by example by passing progressive laws that address issues of child marriages and gender inequality. “The review of the Protocol targets provides an opportunity for the region to sustain the momentum alongside the global agenda on SDGs,” added Kaliya.

The meeting brought together members of the Alliance from nine SADC countries who have since started working on a civil society draft of the Post 2015 SADC Gender Protocol. The objective of the meeting was to use the global SDGs process to strengthen the SGP post 2015. In the coming months, the Alliance will canvass the draft with Gender Minister’s Troika, the SADC secretariat and other member states.

This article is part of the Gender Links News Service special coverage of CSW59 currently underway at the UN headquarters in New York, bringing you fresh views on everyday news.







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