Women from southern African countries have committed themselves to addressing root causes of HIV among women and young girls by reducing poverty and ensuring access to quality health services and information.
This is one of the engagements parliament members of 14 Southern African Development Community Parliamentary Forum countries made through the adoption of the 'Mahe Declaration.'
In the two-day assembly hosted in Seychelles last week, participants focused on thematic areas, proceeding from the Resolution 60/2 of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women. The Resolution focuses on how to stop HIV infections, especially among women and girls.
Participants also recommended that women and girls have access to education, that child marriage is eradicated and those already married, are protected.
The strengthening of legislation and policies on human rights and gender, including young people and those living with HIV, and reducing stigma and discrimination are also points adopted in the declaration.
The declaration will be presented at the 41st Plenary of the SADC Parliamentary Forum which starts Monday.
"The Mahe Declaration needs to be popularised. The declaration is a powerful document, that if implemented will bring about positive changes in the lives of women and girls," said Esau Chiviya, the secretary general of SADC Parliamentary Forum.
Chiviya added that members of the parliament, being elected representatives of the people, cannot sit idly as women and young girls are raped, defiled and even murdered.
"It is imperative that they use their law-making role to ensure that preventive laws are put in place accordingly," he said.
"Not all of the recommendations apply to Seychelles. For example, there is no child marriage in Seychelles," said Regina Esparon, a parliament member of the 115-island archipelago in the western Indian Ocean.
Esparon added that "As members of the women and HIV/AIDS committees in the National Assembly, we will look at the recommendations that were voiced out so as to see which ones can be applied to Seychelles to help us progress in our fight against HIV/AIDS."
The women parliament session, hosted in Seychelles by the National Assembly, was the first event on the programme of the 41st Plenary Assembly Session of the SADC PF, taking place at Savoy Spa and Resort.
The plenary session is the highest decision-making body that brings together speakers from 14 National SADC Member States or their representatives and up to five Members of Parliament from each member state, observers and resource persons.