SADC: Women demand action on eve of Summit

SADC: Women demand action on eve of Summit

Date: August 13, 2021
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Lilongwe 13 August:  The Southern African Gender Protocol Alliance is calling on SADC leaders to accelerate vaccine roll out, provide gender data and step it up for gender equality in the 2021#VoiceandChoice Barometer being launched on the eve of their annual summit.   

A #VaccineGenderJustice petition calls on Heads of State meeting in the Malawi capital next week to challenge “vaccine apartheid” globally and ensure rapid, equitable distribution of effective #COVID-19 vaccines in the region. 

Women constitute 70 percent of frontline health workers, home-based care givers and of those who have been most affected by the pandemic through loss of jobs; disruption to the informal sector and of cross border trade, according to the Executive Summary of the Alliance’s flagship annual publication. 

The pandemic has also resulted in an escalation of Gender Based Violence (GBV); increase in teenage pregnancies; child marriages; harmful practices and unsafe abortions, as well as disruptions to health services, including those for HIV and AIDS, family planning, menstrual and maternal health. 

Only 4% of the 360 million people in SADC have been partially vaccinated and only 2% have been fully vaccinated. This is lower than the global average of 14% and much lower than the average in most developed countries, where over half the population has been vaccinated. 

“Unless a solution is found, the fragile gains we have made for gender equality will be frittered away. This is why I support the #VaccineGenderJustice campaign being launched with this Barometer,” says Malawi’s Minister of Gender, Community Development and Social Welfare, Dr Patricia Kaliati in a foreword to the Barometer. The Minister will deliver the key note address at the launch of the Barometer in the wings of the SADC Council of NGOs meeting in Lilongwe this evening, with dozens of activists from around the region expected to join virtually.    

The Alliance is a network of national women’s rights networks in 15 SADC countries that campaigned for the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development in 2008, and now its implementation. “Since Beijing Plus Ten in 2005, the Alliance has led the march for women’s rights in SADC,” noted Malawi women’s rights defender and Alliance Chair Emma Kaliya. “Now more than ever before we need our leaders to commit to gender justice.” 

Now in its 13th edition, the Barometer tracks progress on women’s rights in SADC against the provisions of the SADC Gender Protocol that brings together African and global commitments to gender equality, as well as the SADC Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) Strategy. Data on 12 key indicators tracked in this strategy show that countries only tick 26% of the green ”success” boxes, down from 27% last year. 

“It may take a few years for the full effects of COVID-19 to reflect in the statistics,” noted Kubi Rama, Executive Director of Gender Links which coordinates the Alliance. “But already we are seeing a downward trend. If women are not infected, they are most certainly affected. This is a trend we simply cannot afford.”       

Sex disaggregated data is available on COVID-19 cases and deaths, but not vaccine roll out.  The limited data available shows worrying trends. For example, South Africa, with 75% of the 3.4 million reported COVID-19 cases in SADC, has a higher number of women contracting and dying from COVID-19. This is the opposite of global trends, in which men constitute the majority of those becoming infected and dying from COVID-19. 

“Sex disaggregated data may well show us that the uptake of vaccines is higher among women than men,” notes the #VoiceandChoice Barometer Editor Colleen Lowe Morna. “As civil society we need all demographic data to monitor vaccine roll out. Crucially we need to ensure that vaccines are reaching marginalised communities, such as women living in rural areas, women living with disability, women living with HIV and AIDS, migrant women, and the LGBTIQ community.”   

In addition to sex, age and region disaggregated data, the petition calls on Heads of State to: 

  • Remove barriers to widespread delivery and uptake of effective vaccines across SADC. 
  • Ensure that all SADC citizens, especially women and marginalised groups have access to, and information on, the most effective vaccines, as soon as possible. 
  • Negotiate access to vaccine science, as this is a right for public health.
  • Support the World Trade Organisation Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) waiver proposal on COVID-19 vaccines. 

The Alliance is also calling on heads of state to: 

  • Remove VAT from menstrual health products and provide these free in schools. 
  • Redouble efforts to reduce maternal mortality, which is unacceptably high in all but two SADC countries (Seychelles and Mauritius). 
  • Adopt and implement stand-alone policies and strategies for ensuring access to, and participation by youth in information and services on their Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights. 
  • Adopt laws and mount campaigns to end child marriages, in line with commitments to 18 as the minimum age of marriage. 
  • Abolish discriminatory laws and practices that deny women voice and choice in their sexual and reproductive health and rights;
  • End GBV and all harmful practices that deny women their human rights. 
  • Ensure women’s equal and effective participation in all areas of decision-making – economic, political and social, in the private and public sphere, including in the media.
  • Apply the lessons on gender justice in the COVID-19 pandemic to bold and visionary approaches to achieve climate justice for the future generations of SADC. 
  • Recommit to the global #GenerationEquality goals by 2030. 

For more information, please contact GL Policy and Movement Building Manager Shamiso Chigorimbo on + (27) 824038395; GL Media Manager Tarisai Nyamweda on or #VoiceandChoice Barometer Editor Colleen Lowe Morna on The petition can be signed on the petitions platform of the community or by going

One thought on “SADC: Women demand action on eve of Summit”

Baltazar de Sousa dos Santos says:

As Mulheres devem receber os melhores Cuidados e Atendimento no momento de vacinação, visto que elas são o Pilar de uma Sociedade.
As crianças devem ser sempre avaliadas pelo pediatra e seguir os mesmos cuidados que os adultos, lavando frequentemente as mãos e mantendo o distanciamento social, já que podem também contrair e transmitir o COVID-19 para as pessoas de maior risco, como pais ou avós.

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