The Southern African Gender Protocol Alliance has called on gender ministers to craft a strong rights-based approach to gender equality for the region post 2015. Speaking at the annual meeting of gender ministers in Malawi ahead of the Heads of State (HOS) summit in Zimbabwe mid-August, Alliance Chair Emma Kaliya stressed that: “We are counting down to 2015. We must not let up the momentum. At the same time we must plan, re-strategise and reprioritise for 2030, in line with the global agenda.
Senior officials meeting here ahead of the gender ministers meeting noted that “the 28 targets of the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development lapse in 2015. It is likely that most member states will not achieve them by that date. Therefore the targets will have to be reviewed.” The senior officials note that amendments will need to be submitted to the Council of Ministers in 2015.
The Alliance is calling on strong leadership from Zimbabwe, the new chair of SADC, in taking forward this critical agenda that forms the centre piece of the 2014 Barometer, launched in Harare this week at the SADC Council of NGOs forum. The Barometer uses two measures for progress – the SADC Gender and Development Index, based on empirical data for 23 indicators that can be measured across the region, and the Citizen Score Card, based on citizen perceptions of all 28 targets. The 2014 Barometer puts the SGDI at 67% and the CSC at 66%. Both indicate that the region has a long way to go in fulfilling the original targets of the 2008 Protocol.
In her submission to gender ministers, Kaliya noted that with less than a year left before the deadline of the targets for the gender protocol and the Millennium development Goals (MDGs), “we are called upon to re-vision our future direction in line with the draft Sustainable Development Goals…voice, choice and control are the key watchwords in the post 2015 gender agenda.”
The Barometer proposes 150 potential targets for 2030, accompanied by 300 indicators, 100 of these on gender violence, the major manifestation of gender inequality in the region.
This would involve all member states undertaking GBV baseline studies, using an agreed set of indicators, and benchmarking progress.
The Barometer also proposes the incorporation of a new section on sustainable development (weak in the current Protocol), and strengthening of sexual and reproductive rights provisions.
Citing the reviewing of 11 constitutions to strengthen gender provisions as a major success of the past six years, the Barometer highlights key areas for ensuring that these are not undermined by culture, custom, tradition and religion.
With 26% women in parliament and 24% in local government, the region is unlikely to achieve the original 30% target for women in decision-making, let alone the gender parity target, by the end of 2015.
The 2014 Barometer argues that the post 2015 agenda needs to make sure these numerical targets are met, but also move beyond that, to measuring gender responsive governance.