22nd July 2024

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SADC’s Regional Women’s Parliamentary Caucus laments slow progress towards gender equality

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SADC

Moses Magadza

Port Louis, Mauritius – The Regional Women’s Parliamentary Caucus (RWPC) of the SADC Parliamentary Forum has said that although some strides have been made towards gender equality and women empowerment in the SADC region, many challenges remain and progress is very slow.

The Chairperson of the RWPC, Honourable Regina Esparon of Seychelles, said this when she addressed the 54th Plenary Assembly Session of the SADC Parliamentary Forum when it got underway in Port Louis in Mauritius under the theme ‘The Role of Parliaments in Promoting Coordination for Enhanced Disaster Risk Reduction and Recovery Planning in the SADC Region’.

She said much needs to be done in many spheres including education, employment, finance, business and politics to achieve gender equality.

“Investing in educating and training girls has clear and concrete social and economic benefits,” she said and added that various policy interventions must be put in place to tackle gender imbalances.

“We must improve conditions for young women to engage in all spheres of economic activity while we also tackle violence against women and girls, child care options, legal and financial norms,” she said.

Hon Esparon stressed the need to deal with traditional perceptions on the role of women in societies across the SADC region.

She said the theme of the Plenary was appropriate given that Southern Africa is among the most vulnerable regions in the world to frequent and catastrophic disasters.

“It is encouraging to note that SADC adopted the Gender-Responsive Disaster Risk Reduction Strategic Plan and Plan of Action (2020-2030. In so doing, SADC recognised that the severity of the impacts of extreme and non-extreme weather and climate events depend to a large extent, on the exposure to these events and the levels of vulnerability,” Hon Esparon said.

She stressed that while climate change affects all people, it impacts them differently and in any given climate crisis, women and girls experience its greatest impacts, which are amplified by pre-existing gender inequalities.

Honourable Esparon called for regional efforts to improve capacity for gender-responsive risk reduction, as these are of critical importance.

She noted that the SADC Gender-Responsive Disaster Risk Reduction Strategic Plan and Plan of Action is a critical statement that must be kept in the forefront of deliberations.

“It recognises that a regional approach is justifiable because disasters do not necessarily respect territorial boundaries,” she said adding that action at national level was however also key.

“We must galvanise our efforts to collect information about these disasters and disseminate it among multiple stakeholders and strengthen coordination mechanisms between institutional and legislative frameworks,” she added.

Already, several countries in SADC have subscribed to the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (2015-2030) which aims to provide a new perspective to disaster management by motivating for a pro-active rather than reactive approach, that moreover includes economic, structural, legal, health, cultural and technological considerations that may strengthen countries’ resilience to prepare for the onset of disasters, be it natural or man-made.

While Disaster Risk Reduction and Preparedness Plans (DRRPPs) are implemented by the Executive, Parliaments are considered as vital agents of socio-economic change to enact legislation, exercise oversight and represent communities on disaster risk management strategies and ensure that they remain concerns which rank as high-priority items on the Government’s agenda.

According to the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR), “Every dollar spent in reducing risks can save 15 in post-disaster recovery costs. Every dollar invested in making infrastructure disaster-resilient saves four that would otherwise have to be spent rebuilding.” 

Accordingly, Parliaments are at a vantage point with regards to monitoring measures for Disaster Risk Reduction, especially since the various constitutional functions of Parliaments empower them to hold Governments to account on progress made regarding investments in DRRPP.

Hon Esparon noted that Mauritius had made steady progress in addressing women’s issues relating to education, poverty, economic empowerment, legal measures and violence against women.

Read more on the subject:

Sadc parliaments called to promote human rights

SADC Parliamentary Forum Plenary focuses on Role of Parliaments in disaster responses

“Mauritius adopted a National Gender Policy (2008) to mainstream gender in all sectoral policies. This triggered significant changes in the situation of Mauritius in relation to Gender Equality. However, concerns around gender-based violence and unequal opportunities in employment still persist,” she said.

She reminded her audience that the world was set to commemorate the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women on 25 November 2023.

This commemoration was also to mark the launch of the UNITE! Campaign, set to run until 10 December.

“It means 16 days of activism concluding on the day that commemorates the International Human Rights Day (10th December).

“In light of this, I call on each SADC Parliamentarian to rededicate themselves to taking action to create a SADC that is free from violence against women and girls,” she said.

Ends/.

CAPTION:

The Chairperson of the RWPC, Honourable Regina Esparon of Seychelles, addresses the 54th Plenary Assembly Session of the SADC Parliamentary Forum in Port Louis in Mauritius. Photo: Moses Magadza

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