Gender Protocol Alliance dismayed by leader’s inaction

Date: January 1, 1970
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The Southern African Gender Protocol Alliance is disappointed that SADC leaders failed to walk the talk of gender equality at their just ended summit in Lusaka by not signing the Protocol on Gender and Development.

18 August: The Southern African Gender Protocol Alliance[1] is disappointed that SADC leaders failed to walk the talk of  gender equality at their just ended summit in Lusaka by not signing the Protocol on Gender and Development.

As representatives of sixteen regional and national NGOs working to promote the rights of women in the region, we are at a loss as to why heads of state failed to seize the moment of the 2007 summit after the draft had successfully passed through all the preparatory stages. This included endorsement by ministers of gender; justice ministers and the Council of Ministers that generally comprises finance ministers from the region.  

While we understand that the Protocol has been deferred to next year’s summit due to a minority of members feeling that they have not had sufficient time to study the draft, we are concerned that this will slow down the momentum in countries that went to Lusaka ready to take the plunge. In particular, we are concerned that as new rounds of negotiations are opened the Protocol – one of the most specific and time bound anywhere in the world for achieving gender equality- may be watered down.

We wish to stress that from our perspective the targets in the Protocol for the achievement of equality between women and men are non-negotiable. The fact that leaders failed to bite the bullet this year will only increase the pressure for implementation when the Protocol is finally signed. 

We will continue to fight for these targets to be met, even before the Protocol is signed. We will also step our efforts to ensure that there are no further stalling or delaying tactics before the Heads of State summit in 2008. No more excuses or technicalities will be accepted or acceptable.  

Already in the pipeline for several years now, the Protocol is the one instrument that could finally help Southern Africa to bridge the gap between the rhetoric and reality of gender equality. 

What distinguishes the SADC Gender Protocol from all the existing international and regional commitments to gender equality is the number of concrete, time bound commitments to achieving key strategic objectives. Altogether the Protocol has twenty targets: six by 2010, and 14 by 2015.   

These targets not only bring together but enhance existing commitments in such instruments as the Convention for the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW); the Millennium Development Goals and the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights. For example, while all these make reference to women’s participation in decision-making, only the SADC Protocol gives a bold time-frame of 2015 for achieving this.   

The Protocol draws on and seeks to extend good practice in the region. For example, it requires that by 2015 all countries follow the example set by two countries in the region ( and ) by enshrining gender equality in their constitutions and giving this provision primacy over customary law.  

All countries will also be required by that year to have comprehensive legislation, services and specialised facilities for addressing gender violence as well as reduce current levels by 50 percent.  

The Protocol breaks new ground by requiring that women participate equally in economic decision-making; be afforded access to credit; public procurement contracts and wage employment. 

It further sets out targets for implementation, monitoring, evaluation and resource allocation with strong peer review and accountability mechanisms. A summary of the key provisions of the protocol is attached.   

For more information call Colleen Lowe Morna on +27 82 651 6995. 

[1] The SADC Gender Protocol Alliance comprises the Botswana Congress of NGOs (BOCONGO);  Federation of African Media Women (FAMW) – SADC; Gender Links (GL); Gender and Media Southern Africa Network (GEMSA); Justice and Peace (Lesotho); Malawi Council of Churches; Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA); NGO Gender Coordination Network Malawi; SAFAIDS; Society for Women and AIDS in Africa Zambia (SWAAZ); Women in Law and Development in Africa (WILDAF); Women in Law in Southern Africa (WLSA); Women, Land and Water Rights Southern Africa (WLWRSA); Women in Politics Caucus Botswana; Women’s Leadership Centre Namibia; Young Women’s Christian Association Botswana (YWCA); Zimbabwe Women’s Resource Centre (ZWRCN).  


Download : SADC GenderProtocol At a glance clm 060807

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