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SADC and Gender 2005 campaign

Rationale for a SADC Protocol on accelerating gender equality


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This paper provides a brief overview of the findings of an audit commissioned by the SADC Gender Unit (GU) and SADC Parliamentary Forum (PF)1 on the provisions for gender equality in key regional and international instruments for advancing gender equality and the extent to which these have been implemented. The papers were prepared as background to the SADC Heads of State Summit in August 2005 as well as for a Roundtable Review of the SADC Declaration on Gender and Development (SDGD) being convened by SADC PF and the SADC GU in Angola this September.


2005 is a significant year for several reasons:
  • It is the 25th anniversary of SADC.
  • It is the tenth anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing.
  • It is the deadline set in the SDGD for the achievement of 30 % women in all areas of decision-making.
  • In September, leaders from around the world will review progress towards the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) five years after their adoption. There is need to ensure that gender concerns are firmly embedded in this global process that has become the main focus of UN efforts following the various global conferences.
Key findings

The key findings from the audit are that progress towards achieving gender equality in the region is, at best, mixed:
  • Despite several elections in SADC countries over the past two years, the average representation of women in the parliaments of the region stands at 20 percent. Only two countries (South Africa and Mozambique) have achieved the thirty percent target and only one other (Tanzania) is likely to achieve the target before the end of the year.
  • Laws, systems and services for addressing gender violence are inadequate. New forms of gender violence, such as trafficking, are on the rise.
  • In virtually every country there are contradictions between customary law and codified law when it comes to women's rights. These contradictions are not addressed in Constitutions.
  • Women, and especially young women, are the majority of those living with HIV/AIDS, the pandemic which more than any other has preyed on the gender disparities in the region and added to the already huge burden of care that women shoulder.
  • In most countries, poverty is on the rise and increasingly has a feminine face.
  • While there has been some progress in raising awareness and challenging gender stereotypes in the media and popular culture, as well as engaging men as partners, the battle to change mindsets is still far from won.
  • Effective implementation, monitoring and evaluation of gender policies, programmes and activities continue to elude those charged with the responsibility of accounting to the public as the gap between policy and practice seems to widen.
Key recommendations

The single greatest challenge identified in the audit is to move the SADC region from an era of commitments to an era of implementation. The main recommendations arising from the audit are therefore that:
  • Heads of State adopt a Protocol to Accelerate Gender Equality in SADC: This would entail elevating the SADC Declaration on Gender and Development into a Protocol, as contemplated in Article 26 of the Addendum to the Declaration on the Prevention and Eradication of Violence Against Women and Children which makes provision for the adoption of legally binding instruments.
  • The Protocol breaks new ground globally by incorporating and enhancing all existing commitments, thus creating synergy and harmonising the various reporting processes. The proposed Protocol (see Annex A) would take account of all the commitments made by member countries in the various continental and international instruments; but also enhance these by taking account of gaps that have been identified in the existing instruments and in their implementation.
  • The Protocol incorporates all existing targets and also sets realistic, achievable targets where these do not exist: These targets include raising the current target of 30 percent women in decision-making by 2005 to gender parity in all areas of decision-making by 2020, in line with the African Union (AU) position, through a phased and incremental approach.
  • The Protocol is accompanied by an action planning framework framework and institutional structures that would ensure regular and effective reporting, benchmarking, monitoring and evaluation, and appropriate sanctions for non-compliance.

  1. International Ideas, UNIFEM, HIVOS and CREDO provided additional support. Organisations that contributed to the audit include: Gender Links, the Gender and Media Southern Africa (GEMSA) Network, the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA), Women in Law in Development in Africa (WILDAF), SARDC/WIDSAA, and SAFAIDS.

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