Mauritius: Southern African countries urged to adopt strong post-2015 gender agenda

Port-Louis, Mauritius (PANA) - The Southern African Gender Protocol Alliance has called on gender ministers gathering in Gaborone, Botswana, on Thursday, to adopt the strongest possible Post-2015 gender agenda for the region.

“This is not a time for watering down commitment or for compromises,” said Emma Kaliya, chair of the Alliance and the NGO Gender Coordinating Network in Malawi, in a communiqué issued from Gaborone.

“We as the SADC region lobbied for strong gender provisions in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Now we have to make them real in our region,” she said in the communique made available to PANA in Port-Louis, Mauritius.

The Alliance is a coalition of gender networks in the 15 SADC countries that campaigned for adoption and ratification of this unique sub-regional instrument that brings together all regional and international commitments to gender equality and enhances these through specific targets and timeframes.

The SADC Protocol on Gender and Development adopted in 2008 was aligned to the 2015 Millennium Development Goals but went further than these by adopting 28 targets to be achieved by that date.

The communiqué said that although the annual Barometer produced by the Alliance showed that no country achieved these targets, the SADC region was unique for committing to timelines that had helped to move the gender agenda forward.

At their annual meeting in Harare in 2015, SADC Gender Ministers directed that the Protocol be updated and aligned to the SDGs, that contained over 30 globally agreed gender targets and timeframes to be achieved by 2030.

In another first for a SADC Protocol, the ministers also directed that the Protocol be accompanied by a Monitoring, Evaluation and Results Framework.

Over the last few days the Alliance has had observer status at the senior officials' meeting preparing for the annual ministerial meeting that will take place in Botswana on Thursday. Botswana is the headquarters of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and is presently chair of the regional body (this rotates each year).

In urging ministers to “take the high ground” on gender equality when they meet, the Alliance urges that “there be no retreat from the 2030 deadlines of the revised Protocol”.

The Alliance understands this to mean that all the commitments made must be achieved by 2030. “Targets and timeframes are what make our region unique,” said Colleen Lowe Morna, CEO of Gender Links that serves as Secretariat for the Alliance. “This is not the time for open ended agendas.”

The Alliance asks also that the role of civil society be acknowledged and formalised, so that the work being done can be harmonised and built upon.

“The reason we have come so far on gender in this region is because of the dynamic relationship between gender ministries and the Women’s Rights Organisations,” noted Botswana NGO Council Chair Monica Kethusegile. “These partnerships need to be concretised if we are to deliver results in the next fifteen years.”

It also indicated that Botswana and Mauritius, the two countries that had still not signed the Protocol, did so at or following the ministers' meeting.

“One of the saddest realities of working with this instrument is that our government is not a signatory,” said Chigedze Chinyepe from BOCONGO, the alliance's focal network in Botswana.

“We believe that the negotiations that have taken place over the last year on the Post-2015 Protocol have provided ample opportunity for any obstacles to signing to be removed. One of the best 50th birthday presents that the women of Botswana could wish for is that our government signs the Protocol!”
-0- PANA NA/MA 22June2016

22 june 2016 18:13:16

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