Southern Africa: Five national Gender Summits kick off across the region

Southern Africa: Five national Gender Summits kick off across the region

Date: October 28, 2014
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Gaborone, 15 April: As the Botswana national anthem resounded at the opening ceremony of the SADC Gender Protocol @Work Summit at Fairgrounds Holding in Gaborone yesterday, four concurrent gender summits got underway in Lesotho, Namibia, Swaziland and Zimbabwe, under the 2014 theme 5050 by 2015 and a stronger post 2015 agenda! The first of the national summits was held in Madagascar last week.

With ten elections in the region between now and the end of 2015, the summits’ 5050 theme will emphasise the urgent need to speed up efforts to achieve 50% representation of women in leadership positions by 2015 and beyond.

At the opening ceremony of the SADC Protocol@Work Summit in Gaborone, Botswana Reverend Moruakgomo-President of the Botswana Association of Local Authorities (BALA) said, “Today marks a very important day for BALA and Gender Links as it epitomises our commitment, dedication and determination towards ending gender inequality and ending gender based violence in this country.”

Moruakgomo also highlighted the 5050 campaign, urging political parties to revise their systems as well as the electoral system to opt for mixed member proportionality in order to ensure more women in leadership. “Given the recent primary elections of all the political parties in the country, none have reached the target of 30%, so 5050 still remains elusive for us.”

Speaking at the Namibia Summit, Deputy Minister of Gender Equality and Child Welfare, Angelika Muharukua said, “The Government of the Republic of Namibia is well on course in terms of the 50-50 representation. I am on record as saying that the Ministry has embarked on a road to equality.” Namibia currently has 20% women in cabinet, 25% in parliament and 42% in local government. With national elections due this year, Namibia has one last chance before 2015 to reach the 5050 goal.

The Minister of Housing and Urban Development, Phiwayinkhosi Mabuza who spoke yesterday at the opening of the Swaziland summit, said it was encouraging to see that Swaziland is moving in the right direction in promoting gender issues. “The development and adoption of the National Gender Policy by government is indicative of the pronounced commitment to mainstreaming gender issues in the national development agenda,” Mabuza explained.

Virginia Muwanigwa, Chairperson of the Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe (WCoZ) praised summit organisers and participants saying, “The Summit gives us an opportunity to reflect on and adopt strategies that will make gender equality a reality for the women, men, boys and girls of Zimbabwe, and in so doing, bring the constitution to life.”

The 2014 SADC Protocol@Work Summits Awards have thus far brought in submissions for gender mainstreaming work in Alliance and coalition building; Government, Media, Leadership, Gender based violence, 5050, Women’s rights, climate change and emerging entrepreneurship.

The Madagascar Summit and Awards that took place last week saw an unprecedented 283 entries from various institutions and individuals. “The huge number of entries received during this national summit proves that more people are convinced about the importance of gender. I am glad to see that the number of male applications increased this year. The promotion of democracy requires the effective participation of all citizens -women and men,” Aurélie Razafinjato, General secretary of the Deputy prime minister of development and planning in Madagascar.

These are the first of 13 national gender summits being held across the region between now and May, hosted by Gender Links (GL), the Southern African Gender Protocol Alliance, local government associations, Faith Based Organisations and the Gender and Media Diversity Centre (GMDC) with the collaboration of the SADC Gender Unit.

The national summits and awards bring together government, media, faith based and civil society organisations to share good practice and to keep up the momentum for achieving gender equality. The summit awards not only reward the work being done by institutions and individuals in mainstreaming gender in their communities, but also to call on governments to account for their commitment to gender equality in the critical countdown to 2015- the deadline for the SADC Gender and Development Protocol.

Following these five national summits and awards this week, Mauritius, Zambia, South Africa, Tanzania, Malawi, Mozambique and the Democratic Republic of Congo will hold theirs during the latter part of April and early May. All the National award winners will then present their work and compete against each other at the Regional SADC Gender Protocol Summit set for 25 May in Johannesburg, South Africa.

In her keynote Address during the opening ceremony, Kelebogile Kgabi- Deputy Permenant Secretary of the Botswana Ministry of Labour and Home Affairs, officially opened the Botswana Summit saying, “To all the participants we thank you for your contributions and encourage you to continue doing your work on the gender agenda. This country needs more people like yourselves. I wish you all a progressive, constructive and fruitful summit. I believe that the winners will make us proud at the regional summit.”

This article is part of the GL News Service special coverage of the SADC Gender Protocol Summits underway across the region, offering fresh views on everyday news.


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