Regional women economic empowerment programme approved

SANF 19 no 19 – by Nyarai Kampilipili in Windhoek, Namibia
SADC Gender Ministers have approved a programme aimed at promoting equal participation of women and men in policymaking processes.

The Regional Multi-Dimensional Women’s Economic Empowerment Programme (RMDWEEP) was approved by SADC Gender Ministers on 29 May in Windhoek, Namibia.

This followed a validation meeting by regional experts in March.

SADC Executive Secretary, Dr Stergomena Lawrence Tax said gender mainstreaming in all policymaking process remains one of the guiding objectives of the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

In fact, gender equality and empowerment is firmly rooted in the Declaration and Treaty that established the shared community of SADC, and member states fully realize that equality and empowerment of both women and men in all spheres of life is crucial for the attainment of sustainable development.

“The empowerment of women and girls is central to regional integration, sustainable development and poverty alleviation,” she said, adding that the programme will go a long way in promoting the active participation of both women and men in policymaking process.

The economic empowerment programme is expected to contribute towards the developmental of gender-responsive policies that are effective and equitable to advance socio-economic development in the region.

Currently, the regional policymaking process – from formulation to implementation — tends to exclude women and thus fail to take into account gender issues.

The RMDWEEP will thus guide the region in reviewing, amending and developing laws that provide for equal access to wage employment, decent work and social protection, all of which are fundamental to promoting socio-economic empowerment.

In this regard, the economic programme is in line with the provisions of the Revised Protocol on Gender and Development, which aspires for social inclusion and justice as well as provides the basis for the empowerment of women, elimination of discrimination and attainment of gender equality and equity through enactment of gender-responsive legislation and implementation of policies, programmes and projects.

The development of the programme was necessitated by the need to ensure a multi-stakeholder response and action to improve the status of women and to empower women in all areas of their life.

The SADC Gender Ministers meeting also urged member states to continue intensifying efforts to mainstream gender as a strategy towards the achievement of women empowerment and gender equality.

According to a draft report on the Analytical Assessment of Gender Mainstreaming in the SADC region presented to the ministers, a majority of SADC countries do not have sufficient capacity and resources to mainstream gender.

The report evaluates the extent to which member states have mainstreamed gender in national policies and strategies.

Furthermore, a baseline on the status of women and the economy scheduled to be launched at the 39th SADC Summit set for August in the United Republic of Tanzania highlights that while significant efforts have been made by SADC countries towards gender equality in the region, but more needs to be done.

A baseline study produced by the gender institute of the Southern African Research and Documentation Centre (SARDC) shows that SADC Member States have made progress in enacting laws and policies that promote gender equality, the domestication and implementation mechanisms remain sluggish and a general discord still exists between statutory and customary law.

In addition, the majority of Member States do not have legal frameworks that recognize the multiple roles of women or ease the burden of these roles, hence limiting the participation of women in other livelihood enhancing tasks.

Without legal frameworks that recognize the multiple roles that women play, women will for example, continue to spend large amounts of time travelling long distances collecting firewood and water among other tasks.

Therefore, there is need embrace the use of renewable energy services and sources and mainstream gender in the sector.

The Gender Ministers were also informed of the launch of the SADC Regional Strategy on Women, Peace and Security (2018-2022) at the 39th SADC Summit set for August.

The strategy aims to address challenges experienced by women and children by ensuring that they fully participate in peace and security activities, programmes and projects in the region will be launched on the margins of the.

The strategy was first presented to SADC Gender Ministers at their meeting in Ezulwini, the Kingdom of Eswatini in 2017 and was further presented to the Ministerial Council of the Organ for approval.

The development of the strategy involved various stakeholders who included gender and security experts from all the SADC member states.

The strategy and its accompanying action plan are to be implemented from 2018-2022 and member states have been urged to develop national action plans and mobilise resources to implement proposed activities at national level.

Southern African News Features offers a reliable source of regional information and analysis on the Southern African Development Community, and is provided as a service to the SADC region. 

This article may be reproduced with credit to the author and publisher.

SANF is produced by the Southern African Research and Documentation Centre (SARDC), which has monitored regional developments since 1985.      Email sanf[at]     

Website and Virtual Library for Southern Africa  Knowledge for Development