Southern Africa: Ending gender violence key to the Post 2015 agenda

Southern Africa: Ending gender violence key to the Post 2015 agenda

Date: August 21, 2015
  • SHARE:

Johannesburg, 21 August: It is August 2015: the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the 28 targets of the SADC Gender Protocol are expiring. Gender based violence (GBV) remains the most telling indicator of gender inequality. In 2008, the SADC Head of State came together and committed to halving gender violence by 2015. Six years later we are still singing the same song: GBV has reached epidemic levels in the SADC region.

A GBV prevalence and attitude study undertaken by Gender Links (GL) in six countries shows that women’s liftetime experience of violence ranges from to 24% in Mauritius to 86% of in Lesotho.

The most predominant form of GBV reported in these countries occurs within intimate partnerships. The highest form of violence, emotional abuse, is not captured in police statistics. GBV has direct implications for progress on all the other MDGs because it affects productivity, health and wellbeing, which undermine development.

In the Post- 2015 agenda, GBV must be treated as a cross-cutting issue deserving urgent attention. Until recently, it has been viewed as a human rights issue overlooking broader implications for development. The World Bank estimates that rape and domestic violence account for 5% of the healthy years of life lost to women age 15 to 44 in developing countries. Loss of productivity due to domestic violence can account for up to two per cent of GDP in African countries.

A study by KPMG in 2014 shows that GBV costs the South African economy an astounding R28.4-billion to R42.2-billion a year. The costs borne by the survivors and their families compete with vital expenditure needs for food and education. We cannot talk of inclusive and sustainable development when more than a third of the women have to take days off work because of injuries sustained as a result GBV. There is no education for all when sexual harassment is rampant in schools.

Going forward we need to ask where we have missed the mark? What do we need to do differently? In order to make progress on addressing GBV, both prevention and response interventions must have visibility, credibility, high-level leadership and wide support.

At the core of prevention should be efforts to change mind-sets that support women subordination. Achieving this will require exceptional political leadership including traditional leadership.

We should draw from the HIV and AIDS experience. The progress that Southern Africa is now experiencing in reducing new cases of HIV and AIDS and preventing mother to child transmission is in no small measure due to political leadership. Why is this same leadership not being extended to the fight against GBV? Is it because GBV overwhelmingly affects women, and that some of our male leaders are in fact perpetrators in their own homes?

Political commitment should be two-fold: establishment of an enabling legal structure to uphold the rights of women and children and multi sector action plans. Fourteen Southern African countries have developed multi-sector 365 Day National Action Plans to End Gender Violence. Eleven out of the fifteen Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries have put in place domestic violence and sexual assault legislation. But implementation is weak.

Law reform and development of action plans should be accompanied by resource allocation and strong monitoring and evaluation frameworks. As a starting point the Post-2015 agenda for GBV should look at strengthening the targets with measurable indicators. This is in line with the directive by SADC Gender Ministers that the Post 2015 SADC Gender Protocol have a strong Monitoring, Evaluation and Results Framework.

Through the Southern African Gender Protocol Alliance, a member of the global Women’s Major Group, GL has commented on several different versions of the Sustainable Development Goals that now comprise 17 goals and 169 targets. Goal 5 – gender equality- has a specific target and indicators on ending violence against women.

Globally, and in the SADC region, there will be need for baseline data to inform plans and monitor performance. To date only six countries have undertaken the GBV Baseline Studies. If governments are serious about ending gender violence they must commit resources to undertaking baseline surveys and repeating these periodically to measure progress. In 2013, SADC gender ministers commended countries that have undertaken GBV Baseline Studies, and urged all to follow suit. This call must now be acted on.

The peaceful Africa we want begins at home. That calls for unprecedented political commitment, focus, and resource allocations. Yes we can and yes we must end gender violence by 2030! This deadline cannot be extended!

(Linda Musariri is an independent consultant and former Gender Justice Manager at GL. This article is part of the GL News Service).



Comment on Southern Africa: Ending gender violence key to the Post 2015 agenda

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *