JOHANNESBURG, South Africa — The ninth Regional Sadc Gender Protocol Summit opened here yesterday with 350 delegates from 15 member states in attendance.
The two-day summit is aimed at lobbying governments, politiciains, non-governmental organisations and faith-based organisations to campaign for the sub region to achieve the 50% gender parity target by August 2015.
Held under the banner 50/50 by 2015 and demanding a strong post 2015 agenda, the summit is being hosted by Gender Links and the Southern Africa Protocol Alliance.
With just under 15 months to go, the call comes at a crucial time in the Sadc region as the numbers of women political representatives continue to shrink.
Speaking at the official opening, Gender Links CEO Collen Lowe Morna said:
“Southern Africa blazed the trail by going well beyond the requirements of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) when it comes to gender equality. But now, in South Africa, where we had a majority of women premiers of six out of nine we now have two out of nine. Women representation has moved backwards from 44% to 40%.”
Women in Politics Support Unit advocacy officer Tsitsi Mhlanga said the new Zimbabwean Constitution was a women’s constitution because it promoted gender equality.
Asked on whether Zimbabwe would reach the 50/50 target by 2015 Mhlanga said:
“We have 323 women councillors against 1 631 men. The analogy of women in local government is like women driving a [Mazda] 323 next to men driving a Range Rover. There is still a challenge in the local government. However, we almost reached the target with the Senate at 48%. And without the quota, the percentage would have been much lower.”