SADC missing the mark on gender parity

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Lahja Nashuuta

Windhoek - The 10th edition of the SADC Gender Protocol Barometer has revealed that none of the countries in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region has achieved the 50% target of women representation in parliament, with seven countries still ranked below 20%.

According to the report launched in Windhoek on 13 August, ahead of the 38th SADC Heads of State and Government Summit scheduled for 17 to 18 August 2018, SADC countries are ranging between 10 and 167 in global rankings.

Women’s representation in parliament in SADC is at 26%, one percentage point lower than the baseline in 2009, but two percentage points higher than the global and Sub-Saharan average of 24%.

Women representation at cabinet level in the region is lower at 20% while at local government local women representation stands at 23%.

This year, Namibia ranks fourth in the region with 36% of women in parliament. Top in the region is South Africa with 41% women representation in parliament, cabinet and local authorities, following by Mozambique at 40%, Zimbabwe (37%), and Tanzania fourth with 36%.

The report further reveals that six countries are still ranking below 30% with the lowest being Botswana with 10% and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) having only 8% of women in parliament.

In the 10-year tracking, the overall average of women in parliament in SADC has dropped by a percentage point from 27% to 26%.

Although all member states reportedly performed better at parliament level, Madagascar, eSwatini, Mauritius, Malawi, Zambia, the DRC and Botswana still have a long way to go to achieve gender parity across all categories, the Barometer shows.

Eight countries in the region have experienced a drop in the proportion of women in parliament, while six have experienced an increase and one has remained constant. The biggest increase took place in Zimbabwe, where the proportion of women in parliament doubled in the 2013 election, from 18% to 36%, due to the introduction of a constitutional quota.

Regarding women representation at the cabinet and local government levels, only South Africa and Mozambique scored 50% of women representation at the cabinet and 41% at the local government levels. All 13 countries with elected local governments have failed to reach the 50% target. Namibia is 2% shy of the target at 48%.

According to the Barometer predictions, there is a high possibility that the region will achieve an average 50% by 2020. However, this depends on the performance of countries having elections this year and next year and a concerted 50/50 campaign.

With Seychelles dropping out of the lead and the regression that took place in Angola in 2017 elections, only four countries Tanzania, Mozambique, Namibia and South Africa will likely come close to achieving the 50% target, especially if they strengthen the excising of voluntary and legislation quotas and review special measures in party manifestos.

In Zimbabwean polls held elections on 30 July, four women were presidential candidates, but all failed to make any significant electoral headway.

Eight countries are likely to remain below 30%, Lesotho, Seychelles and Zambia and they do not have elections before 2020.

Other countries such as Malawi, Mauritius, Madagascar, Botswana and the DRC have elections, but they use the all first-past-the-post (FPTP) system with no quotas, which means the chances of a substantial increase in women representation in parliament in those countries is very slim.

SADC Protocol on Gender and Development Protocol is a unique sub-regional instrument that brings together the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Africa Union (AU) Agenda 2063 and Beijing plus 20 and enhances these through specific targets.

All 15 SADC member states, except Mauritius, have signed the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development, but only 10 have signed the amendment to align it to the Sustainable Development Goals. One more country needs to do so for the amendment to go into force.  This is likely to be Namibia, which is hosting the 2018 Heads of State Summit.

 

 

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