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Highlights from the draft SADC Protocol on Gender and Development
Saeanna Chingamuka, Women in Development Southern Africa Awareness (WIDSAA)
Extracted from Gender and Development Exchange Quarterly Newsletter Issue 40 (October-December 2006)
January 2007

The draft SADC Protocol on Gender and Development has several measurable targets to be undertaken within the timeframe of 2010 to 2020.

This is in response to concerns that previous frameworks on gender lacked timeframes for meeting the desired goals.

The draft SADC Protocol proposes that Member States be mandated to submit progress reports highlighting achievements in implementing targets that will be set in the protocol on a regular basis.

Issues on constitutional and legal rights, governance, education and training, productive resources and employment, gender-based violence, health, HIV and AIDS, peace building and conflict resolution, media, information and communication, institutional framework and monitoring and evaluation are addressed in the draft protocol.

On constitutional rights, the Protocol proposes that Member States enshrine gender equality in their constitution and ensure that gender equality takes precedence over their customary, religious and other laws by 2010.

To strengthen democratic governance, Members States shall ensure that women hold 50 percent of decision-making positions in the public and private sector by 2020. Other components include the proposal to establish legislative provisions to ensure that women candidates are fielded for election by political parties; and that women participate equally with men in all electoral processes including in the administration of elections and voting.

To promote economic empowerment of women, proposals have been made for implementation of policies to ensure equal participation by women and men in policy formulation and mainstream gender in economic policies.

To enable women to establish and sustain enterprises, the draft Protocol proposes that favourable and enabling financial procurement policies be established within given timeframes.

An analysis by the Women In Development Southern Africa Awareness (WIDSAA) programme in 2005 on the performance of SADC countries in promoting women?s access to, and control over productive resources, revealed that women , especially those in rural areas, lack control over means of production and experience limited access to credit and capital.

In some countries, the financial resources targeted for women are inadequate and men tend to exploit the situation, particularly where husbands have to be consulted by spouses in order to gain access to credit.

This is exacerbated by the negative cultural attitudes that many banks have towards women borrowers, despite the existence of non-discriminatory policies.

The draft Protocol proposes that SADC countries end all discrimination against women with regard to property and land rights, and ensure that there is equal access to credit and capital by women and men by 2015.

On equal access to employment, the draft proposes that countries establish legislative measures prohibiting the denial of full pay and other benefits to women while they are on maternity leave.

Countries in southern Africa have different policies regarding maternity leave such as full, three-quarter, and half pay during the three to six months leave. South Africa offers the longest maternity leave of six months.

The draft Protocol proposes that countries conduct timeuse studies by 2010 and adopt policy measures to reduce the burden of the multiple roles played by women.

On entrepreneurship, there are proposals for States to develop and integrate subsidised training programmes that will facilitate the creation and sustainability of women's entrepreneurial opportunities as well as enhancement of women's entrepreneurial skills.

Regarding trade policies, the Protocol proposes that Member States incorporate gender in all trade policies and establish mechanisms to ensure equal access by men and women to financial and other markets including trade negotiation processes.

On media, information and communication, the draft proposes the introduction of laws which will ensure universal access for women and men to information and communication technologies, and all forms of media in languages and formats that are accessible and affordable to them, and will enable them to take informed decisions, as well as participate fully as citizens in all democratic processes.

To protect women and men against HIV and AIDS infection and other sexually transmitted infections contracted as a result of any sexual violation, the draft proposes that States ensure that all health facilities in their territories administer post-exposure prophylaxis to prevent the onset of the infection.

The draft proposes that Member States take necessary steps to halt and begin to reverse the spread of HIV and AIDS by 2015.

To strengthen institutional framework the draft proposes for the establishment of a SADC Commission on the Status of Women, and a Regional Gender Advisory Group comprising eminent gender experts from the region , in addition to the existing Gender Unit within SADC Secretariat.

Objectives of the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development

  • To bring together in one legally binding regional instrument all the commitments to gender equality that have been made through, amongst others, the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, the SADC Declaration on Gender and Development and its Addendum, the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People's Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa, and the Millennium Development Goals;
  • To address emerging gender issues and concerns; Set realistic, measurable targets, time frames and indicators, and allocate resources for achieving the goals that will be set;
  • To strengthen, monitor and evaluate the progress made by Member States towards reaching the targets and goals set in the protocol;
  • To create a fora for involving all stakeholders and sharing best practices in the implementation of the protocol; and
  • To deepen regional integration, sustainable development, and community building.

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