Southern Africa: Communique of the Ordinary Meeting of SADC Ministers Responsible for Gender/ Women's Affairs

press release

Maputo — SADC Ministers responsible for Gender/ Women's Affairs met in Maputo, Mozambique on the 14th February 2013 to discuss the SADC Position for the 57th UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) and to review Progress made on the SADC Regional Gender Programme.

The meeting was attended by Ministers and Senior Government Officials from Angola, Botswana, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Kingdom of Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, the Kingdom of Swaziland, the United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

In attendance also were representatives of the High Level Taskforce on Women, Girls and HIV and AIDS; UN Women; United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNDOC), Deutsche Gesellschaft fuer Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES), Joint United Nations Programme on HIV and AIDS (UNAIDS) and Pan Africa Positive Women's Coalitions (PAPWC), and representatives from Regional and National NGO's.

Ministers expressed appreciation to the Republic of Mozambique for the warm hospitality accorded to them and their delegations. Ministers also conveyed their heartfelt condolences to the Government and the people of the Republic of Mozambique for the loss of many lives as a result of the Climate Change related catastrophe that affected people, especially women and children, destroyed infrastructure and property among others.

The meeting was officially opened by Hon. Iolanda Cintura Seuane, Minister of Gender and Social Action of Mozambique. In her keynote address, the Honourable Minister welcomed all the delegates to Maputo and highlighted that the 57th Session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) will discuss the Priority Theme: "The elimination and the prevention of all forms of violence against women and girls and the Review Theme: "The sharing of responsibilities between women and men, including in care giving in the contexts of HIV and AIDS".

She highlighted the commitment of the SADC Member States to addressing Violence Against Women and Girls as demonstrated by the adoption of the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development in 2008 and other regional and international instruments. She emphasised the need for effective implementation of commitments made by Member States to address violence against women and children in collaboration with NGO's, Development Partners, the Private Sector and the communities.

She further reiterated the need to place special emphasis on economic empowerment of women with a view to increase access to, control and management of resources as a means to reduce the vulnerability of women to dependency and violence.

The meeting considered and adopted two important documents namely the Outcome Document on the SADC Position of the 57th Session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) as well as the Draft Agreed Conclusions on the Priority Theme on the Elimination and prevention of all forms of violence against women and girls with inputs from SADC.

The meeting acknowledged that the SADC region has high incidences of Violence Against Women and Girls, particularly domestic violence that is interlinked to HIV and AIDS and poverty.

The meeting condemned the ongoing occurrences of armed conflict, resulting in sexual violence, especially rape against women, which is used as a weapon of war in the East of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC); and called upon SADC and the UN Security Council to expedite the deployment of its Rapid Brigade to neutralize the negative forces in the DRC and adopt any other necessary measures to stop violence.

The meeting reiterated the importance of key priority concerns for the region, in particular the need to address domestic violence more effectively, dealing with the root causes of violence against women, developing robust sensitisation programmes targeting families and communities especially in rural areas, and prioritisation of activities on socialisation with a view to change mindsets and attitudes as well as strengthening efforts towards economic empowerment of women.

The meeting, amongst others, committed to initiate and advocate for high-level campaigns that address the fundamental root causes of Violence Against Women and Girls and targeting the family with a focus on socialization and encourage traditional and religious leaders to intensify and strengthen their efforts in the fight against Violence Against Women and Girls.

The Meeting noted progress on the status of the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development and commended the Ten (10) SADC Member States that have ratified the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development namely; Angola, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

The meeting applauded Member States efforts in depositing instruments of ratification that has subsequently led to its entering into force. The meeting re-iterated the importance of ensuring effective implementation of the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development.

The Meeting reviewed progress made on Status of Representation of Women in Political and decisions making positions. The Meeting further congratulated Member States that have achieved high representation of women in political and decision making positions; and urged Member States that have not yet achieved the set target for equal representation of women in political and decision making positions to take appropriate measures to do so at all levels.

Ministers approved the proposal to develop an Addendum to the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development to accommodate Gender and Climate Change. This is in response to the concern that the impacts of Climate Change affect Women and Children disproportionately in the region.

The meeting thanked and commended Chair of SADC Ministers Responsible for Gender and Women's Affairs, Hon. Iolanda Cintura Seuane, Minister of Women and Social Action of Mozambique for successfully hosting the Ordinary Meeting of SADC Ministers responsible for Gender/Women's Affairs.

The Incoming Chair of SADC Ministers Responsible for Gender and Women's, Minister of Gender and Child Development, Malawi, Hon. Anitta Kalinde offered to host the 2014 Meeting of SADC Ministers Responsible for Gender & Women's Affairs.

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