With several Southern African Development Community (Sadc) countries preparing for elections within the next 12 months, the governance cluster of the Southern African Gender Protocol Alliance has renewed calls for governments in the region to push for a 50/50 gender parity in all areas of decision-making by 2015.
This is contained in yesterday’s communiqué, relaunching the 50/50 campaign following a meeting in Harare of women’s non-governmental organisations representatives from nine Sadc countries.
The participants were drawn from Zimbabwe, South Africa, Malawi, Lesotho, Angola, Tanzania, Mauritius, Swaziland and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The statement issued at the end of the meeting noted that with only four years to go to 2015, the average representation of women in parliament was 25%.
“The region is only halfway where it needs to be, with many countries having only one more election to go,” the women noted in the communiqué.
The meeting was organised by the Women in Politics Support Unit, the governance cluster leader, and Gender Links, who are the coordinators of the alliance that campaigned for the adoption of the Sadc Gender Protocol.
The meeting was held a few days ahead of the Sadc Heads of State Summit in the Angolan capital, Luanda, scheduled for August 17.
According to the communiqué, delegates at the meeting noted with concern that, while the Sadc regional average of 25% women in national parliaments exceeds the global average of 19%, this varied considerably between countries, “underscoring a lack of political will” .
With 18% women in parliament, Zimbabwe was one such country.
Other countries with elections on the horizon are Zambia, with 15% women in parliament. They go to the polls in September and the DRC, with 12% women in parliament, and set to go for elections in November this year.
In Zimbabwe, delegates to the meeting said recent inter-party efforts to bring the 50/50 demands to the fore were commendable, but there was an urgent need to seize this historic opportunity to incorporate special measures for ensuring equal representation in the new Constitution.