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The SADC Gender Protocol Alliance hosted by Gender Links, in partnership with SAFAIDS, the lead of the SRHR Alliance Cluster, collaborated with SADC Parliamentary Forum to conduct a one day training workshop for the SADC PF Women Parliamentary Caucus on sexual reproductive health and Rights on 21 May, 2019 in South Africa, Johannesburg. Download the workshop report.
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The SADC Gender Protocol Alliance hosted by Gender Links, in partnership with SAFAIDS, the lead of the SRHR Alliance Cluster, will collaborate with SADC Parliamentary Forum to conduct a one day training workshop for the SADC PF Women Parliamentary Caucus on sexual reproductive health and Rights on 21 May, 2019 in South Africa, Johannesburg.
- Sensitize and raise awareness of Parliamentarians on basic gender concepts, Gender international, regional and sub-regional legal instruments on SRHR that SADC Member States have committed to;
- Share information in the status of SRHR in the SADC region using the results of the GL 2019 SADC Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) Mapping Report; and the gender analysis report of the SADC Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) Strategy 2019-2030;
- Develop the capacity of Women Parliamentarians as Champions for gender equality to engage in strong advocacy for SRHR in Parliamentary debates for domestication of international commitments, legislative reform, oversight for accountability and gender budgeting;
- Equip Parliamentarians with tools/checklists for use to assessing gender responsiveness of SRHR Policies to enhance their advocacy, oversight role within the legislature.
Since 2016, the Alliance has succeeded in lobbying for the inclusion of SRHR in the Post 2015 Protocol; established an SRHR cluster; undertook training of members on SRHR led by cluster lead Southern Africa HIV and AIDS Information Dissemination Service (SAfAIDS) and an LGBTI led by Gender Links (GL). In August 2018, under the banner #VoiceandChoice the Alliance and SAFAIDS launched the SRHR campaign at the SADC HOS in Namibia. The ambitious regional programme calls for the positioning of SADC health ministers as such this training will provide a strategic platform to share critical information on SRHR in SADC, and position the women MPs to champion SRHR from an informed view point. Sensitization and awareness raising will also increase political will which is fundamental to improving women’s access to sexual and reproductive health services.
The training will share the Gender Links 2019 Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) Mapping Report, and the gender analysis report of the SADC Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) Strategy 2019-2030 with a view to share progress as well as areas identify further legal reforms and advocacy points to strengthen women’s rights and SRHR in the region. With technical training from SAfAIDS regional programme Transforming Lives with a focus on sexual-based gender violence (SGBV), teenage pregnancy, unsafe abortion, and promotion of social accountability for youth.
Parliamentarians are well placed to promote gender sensitive health and, in particular, SRHR policies through legislative mandates, oversight and accountability. This provides an opportunity for domestication and implementation of the key international legal instruments on gender equality and women’s empowerment as stipulated above.
Engendering parliaments entails raising awareness among Parliamentarians of the importance of taking gender into account –in all actions, from policy-making to budget preparation through implementation and evaluation. Parliamentarians are central to the full implementation of the International Conference on Population and Development Programme of Action (ICPD PoA), the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development, The Maputo Protocol and the Agenda 2030, and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals among others. It is on this basis that GL, and SAFAIDS will be training the Regional Women’s Parliamentary Caucus under the auspices of the SADC Parliamentary Forum.
There has been overall progress towards gender equality in many countries in SADC, often reflected in the growing number of women in national parliaments; however, there is much room for improvement, specifically through actions and policies to further gender equality and women’s empowerment including SRHR. These include, for example, reviewing national objectives and legal frameworks to ensure that they respond to the needs of both men and women; adopting affirmative measures; supporting women’s parliamentary caucuses; making parliamentary bodies gender-sensitive; and working to dismantle religious and cultural barriers to gender equality through the legislature. Efforts to increase SRHR have also fallen short in many SADC countries because of underlying economic, political, social, and cultural constraints and/or ideological‐driven campaigns. Strategic partnerships with key institutions such as Parliament, including their gender and health committees at both regional and national levels remain an important part of the advocacy agenda for gender equality and women’s empowerment.
According to the Gender Links 2019 Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) Mapping Report, despite SADC countries being signatory to the Maputo Plan of Action, SADC Protocol on Gender and Development, and the existence of the updated SADC Strategy on SRHR, only 6 out of 15 countries have laws on child marriages. Of the six countries, five, (DRC, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, and South Africa) have laws on child marriage that comply with the SADC Model Law on Child Marriages. Nine countries (Angola, Botswana, eSwatini, Lesotho, Mauritius, Namibia, Seychelles, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe), do not have laws on child marriage. Angola, the DRC, Seychelles, and Tanzania, have the lowest minimum age limit for girls to marry at 15 years.
Furthermore, the report reveals that the absence of prohibitive child marriage laws in nine SADC countries is a setback for adolescent SRHR in the region. The SADC region, which accounts for 10%-13% of maternal mortality, has fewer countries that have laws on safe abortion and post abortion care. Findings also show that sexual diversity is still a controversial area of concern and even a taboo topic in the region. Homosexuality is outlawed and this is vigorously enforced in the majority of Southern African countries. There is marginal progress in removing sanitary tax in most SADC countries.
The mapping further shows high-unmet need for contraception for Southern African countries. The failure to provide contraceptive care has huge implications for unintended pregnancies, unplanned births, abortions, and miscarriages. This further balloons the maternal health care costs for countries. There is a fair coverage of Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) in both primary and secondary schools across SADC, but other countries do not offer CSE at all for the primary and secondary school children. This series of SRHR issues require deliberate and international measures by Member States including the legislature to address the issues for a healthy, inclusive and equal society necessary for sustainable development that leaves no one behind. This is particularly important as the year 2019 is the 25th Anniversary of the ICPD.
This training for the Regional Women’s Parliamentary Caucus is an important foundation for broader gender engagements with SADC PF Parliamentarians. The specific focus on the Regional Women’s Parliamentary Caucus is an important strategy for building alliances and identifying champions for gender equality and women’s empowerment.
- Increased knowledge and understanding of the SRHR normative Framework by women Parliamentarians;
- Increased understanding of status quo on SRHR in SADC
- Strengthened capacity of Parliamentarians as Champions for gender equality and women’s empowerment including SRHR