SADC Ministers Underscore Advancement for Women

Maputo- Mozambique (PANA) -- Ministers responsible for women's affairs and gender in the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) have expressed concern at the resistance shown by some member states to include more women in decision-making roles.
According to the ministers, it seems improbable that most of the SADC member countries would meet the target date of 2005 for achieving a minimum of 30 percent of decision-making posts occupied by women.
A report from the meeting of SADC Ministers of Women's Affairs which ended Saturday in Maputo, notes, however, that some states have made significant progress in opening access for women to greater participation in political life.
The ministers have recommened to the next SADC heads of state summit, due to be held August in Malawi, that constitutions in the region be amended to stipulate specific minimum quotas for women in southern African parliaments and other key state institutions.
Of the 14 SADC member states only four have anything resembling a reasonable proportion of women in their parliaments.
These are South Africa, where 29.
8 percent of Members of Parliament are women, Mozambique (28.
4 percent), Seychelles (24 percent) and Swaziland (20 percent).
In the other 10 member states (Angola, Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Namibia, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe) women account for less than 20 percent of the parliamentarians.
According to the spokesperson for the meeting, Josefa Langa, one of the great victories for women of the region was the declaration on gender and development, signed by the SADC heads of state and government in 1997.
The declaration refers specifically to the need to eradicate all forms of violence against women and children.
But despite undertakings on paper, the reality is that women still face enormous barriers.
They find their access to the labour market blocked by a variety of factors including poverty, low levels of education and domestic violence.
To overcome this, the ministers have recommended to the heads of state that in future budgets more money be allocated to activities linked to gender.
For 2001/2002, the member states have made just 97,000 dollars available in the SADC budget for gender-related activities.
Small though this amount is, it was an increase of 12,000 dollars on the previous year's allocation.

26 may 2001 16:18:00

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