Southern Africa: Alliance calls for review of gender protocol as deadline looms

Date: February 26, 2015
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Harare 26 February: Gender networks across the Southern African Development Community (SADC) urge the Council of Ministers to place the review of the SADC Gender Protocol high on the agenda of the 2015 Heads of State Summit. The 28 targets of the Protocol, whose deadline is aligned to Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), expire this year.

“Globally, we are moving from the MDGs to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s),À noted Chairperson of the Southern African Gender Protocol Alliance Emma Kaliya. “We cannot afford to be caught flatfooted.   The SADC Protocol on Gender and Development needs to move apace.À  

The Alliance is a coalition of gender networks in the fifteen SADC countries that campaigned for adoption and ratification of this the unique sub-regional instrument that brings together all regional and international commitments to gender equality and enhances these through specific targets and timeframes.

In July 2014 gender ministers meeting in Malawi noted that “most Member States will not achieve all the set targets by that date. Therefore, the targets will have to be reviewed in line with Article 38 of the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development and the SADC Treaty as Amended in Article 22 (11).À

Ministers further noted that “an amendment in relation to the targets in the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development will be produced in 2015 for submission to the Council of Ministers for approval by the SADC Executive Secretary as per Article 13 of the SADC Treaty.À

The Council of Ministers are meeting in Zimbabwe, the current chair of SADC, from February 28 to March 8 2015, to prepare for the next SADC Heads of State meeting to be held in Botswana. Following the recent cabinet reshuffle in Zimbabwe, the country does not have a gender minister. The position of head of the SADC gender unit has been vacant since December, and Botswana in one of two countries (including Mauritius) that have not signed the Protocol.

“The leadership vacuum on gender at this crucial moment in SADC is a grave source of concern,À said Kaliya. “In the region we are counting down to 2015. Globally, we are reviewing progress twenty years after Beijing. The cry for greater voice, choice and control for women is loud and clear. The SADC region cannot be left behind,À she said.

The 2014 SADC Gender Protocol Barometer that measures progress in the attainment of gender equality in the region found that using both the empirical SADC Gender and Development Index and SADC Citizen Score Card, an “ordinary peopleÀ perception score, the region is only 66 to 67% of where is needs to be by this year.

However, reviewing the targets against the agreed 17 goals and 169 indicators of the SDG’s, the Alliance found that the Protocol needs to be bolder and more specific in a number of areas. Target five of the SDG’s on gender equality goes much further than its predecessor MDG 3.   The global agenda includes GBV, has a number of economic indicators (including the unwaged work of women); goes beyond numbers in women’s political participation through provisions for “effectiveÀ leadership and pushes some boundaries on reproductive health and rights.

On the other hand, the SDG’s are thin on gender, media and ICT’s, sparking an outcry by the Global Alliance on Media and Gender, chaired by Gender Links, that also hosts the Secretariat of the Alliance.  

Globally, all eyes are now on the indicators that will accompany the SDG’s that are expected to be adopted by Heads of State at the UN General Assembly in September. The Alliance and GAMAG have shared a potential 300 gender indicators with technical committees working on the global framework. “Women in the SADC region have much to offer the international agenda, just as we need to use this momentum in our own post 2015 campaign,À noted GL CEO Colleen Lowe Morna.

The campaign will be strengthened during the upcoming 59th Commission on the Status of Women meeting in New York from 9 -20 March, where the Alliance, led by the Chairperson, will have a strong presence and side event on SADC and the global 2015 campaign.

For more information contact:

Emma Kaliya, Alliance Chair on 265  88 882 5376

Colleen Lowe Morna, GL CEO on 27 82  651 699527 82  651 6995

Sifiso Dube, Alliance and Partnerships Manager on 27 78  274 542827 78  274 5428

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