SADC Gender protocol now in force

Harare – The SADC Protocol on Gender and Development has now come into force following its ratification by South Africa, Zambia and Swaziland last year.
A communiqué issued at the annual meeting of ministers responsible for gender and women’s affairs held in Mozambique last month showed that 10 member states had ratified the instrument to reach the two-thirds required.
“The meeting applauded Member States’ efforts in depositing instruments of ratification that has subsequently led to its entering into force,” reads part of the communiqué.
The countries that have ratified the instrument include Angola, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Botswana and Mauritius have not yet signed the instrument of the protocol while DRC, Madagascar and Malawi are yet to ratify. The ratification of the instrument will now allow member states to incorporate the provisions of the Protocol into domestic laws for application.
The objectives of the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development are to provide for the empowerment of women, eliminate discrimination, and achieve gender equality and equity through gender-responsive legislation, policies, programmes and projects.
Some of the targets include 50-50 representation of men and women in politics and other decision-making bodies by 2015, line with SADC Heads of State and Governments decision and that of the AU.
The Protocol was signed in 2008 and should result in an increased accountability on the part of member states on issues of gender equality, both domestically and regionally.
By creating common normative standards, the Protocol should empower policymakers, service-delivery institutions, human rights activists, and beneficiaries of the stated rights with the legal tools to demand and claim gender equality.
Meanwhile Mozambique has been cited as nowhere near reaching the laid down targets, according to Mozambique News Agency (AIM).
The news agency quoted a research done by the Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa.
The organisation examined 2 000 leadership and decision-making positions in eight private and public enterprises and found women representation to be low.
Zimbabwe’s Women, Affairs, Gender and Community Development Minister, Dr Olivia Muchena, welcomed the coming into force of the Protocol.
“This is a welcome development that will allow us to move as a region to ensure that we address the issue of equality of men and women as a whole. As a country we have gone great strides in addressing the issue of gender equality and this will only bolster our efforts,” she said.
Dr Muchena urged the remaining countries that have not signed or ratified the Protocol to do so.

March 2013
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