The structural inequalities that have historically excluded women from the development processes of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) nations must be reversed, says Minister of Women Bathabile Dlamini.
The Minister, who is also the chairperson of the Committee of Ministers responsible for Gender and Women Affairs, was addressing the Ordinary Meeting of SADC Ministers Responsible for Gender/Women’s Affairs on Thursday in Johannesburg.
The Minister said the playing field could be levelled for women through policies that provide access to land, water, technology, financing, access to social protection, security, health, education as well as decent work.
She said a life free of gender-based violence must be guaranteed by the SADC states.
“Gender-based violence, especially domestic violence, continues to be an area of serious concern for the SADC region. This calls for new, innovative and targeted public security responses to make the lives of our citizens secure, particularly those of women and children, from gender-based violence, and facilitates experience and intelligence sharing in addressing these challenges,” Dlamini said.
SADC Executive Secretary Dr Stergomena Lawrence-Tax said SADC Member States continue to make progress towards women empowerment, as guided by the various parameters that are used to monitor the empowerment of women.
“According to the Gender Monitor 2016, representation by women in political and decision-making positions at various levels of governance, including the main institutions of State; the Legislature, the Executive and the Judiciary, continues to improve, despite the fact it fell short of the 50:50 target for 2015.
“While such progress is being made, the performance continues to be mixed across the region with some Member States doing well in facilitating quantitative and qualitative gender parity in decision-making positions, and others not so well,” she said.
According to the Gender Barometer 2017, the SADC region is less than two thirds, where it needs to be, to achieve gender equality by 2030.
Lawrence-Tax called on Member States to prioritise gender parity while submitting candidates for Secretariat positions.
“I would also like to call upon Member States to ensure that highly qualified women candidates are encouraged to apply for such positions, and are considered during the shortlisting by Member States,” she said. – SAnews.gov.za