Source: AllAfrica

Participants to the 2012 Gender Justice and Local Government Summit have urged SADC Heads of State to sign an Addendum to the Protocol on Gender and Development on Climate Change this August when they meet in Maputo, Mozambique.

The Addendum commits governments to acknowledge that climate change affects women most and therefore mainstream gender in mitigation and adaptation efforts. The 280 participants from ten Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries also signed a petition that will be presented to the region's leaders when they meet for the annual Heads of State Summit in Maputo in August.


Declaring that "climate justice equals gender justice" the participants said that the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development, which has 28 targets to be achieved by 2015, is "not comprehensive enough on matters of sustainable development. This issue has become increasingly pressing since the adoption of the Protocol in 2008. The Protocol is a living document that should respond to the needs and concerns of citizens at any given time."


Taking place against the backdrop of Earth Day and Green Office week, the summit demonstrated its commitment to "going green, going clean" through a panel debate, documents put on CD instead of being printed, and a memory box of "the world we would like to see by 2015." Participants conducted a paperless online evaluation and cyber dialogue.


Convened by Gender Links under the theme "365 Days of Local Action to End Violence and Empower Women" the Summit condemned in the strongest terms the gang rape of a young woman with a mental disability in Soweto on the eve of the summit. The gruesome incident, captured on cell phone video went viral around the world.


In a session on "Making IT work for gender justice" summit participants, who came from 44 municipalities around Southern Africa "took back the tech" by getting E Mail addresses, getting on face book and twitter, and learning how to create and disseminate their own content. "The Internet is used in unspeakable ways to violate the rights of women," participants noted." But it is a free space that we need to claim equally vigorously to promote women's rights.


During the IT session GL launched a journal on Gender, Popular Culture and Media Freedom with numerous examples from around the region of how new media and popular culture are being used in progressive ways.


The summit ended yesterday with an awards ceremony that will recognise ten winners, ten runner-ups and commend two individuals whose work has been voted by a panel of judges and the audience out of 110 best practices, from 44 municipalities across Southern Africa.


At the opening ceremony on 23 April, the Minister of Women, Children and People with Disabilities, Honourable Lulu Xingwana commended the work being done through the Centres of Excellence for Gender Mainstreaming in Local Government.


She further pointed out that this is a significant task that SADC citizens have undertaken because the points of actual service delivery are at the very local and community level. It is therefore critical that issues of women's empowerment and gender equality are mainstreamed at this level.


The Minister of Local Government, Urban and Rural Development in Zimbabwe, Dr Ignatius Chombo added, "he is always gratified to learn of practitioners who have found a better way of doing the things that we do. Local Government is a dynamic field and if we are not innovating, then we are not serving."


Chombo said that the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development is a useful instrument aimed at levelling the playing filed for women and men in development. He cited the examples of the Vice President and Deputy Prime Minister of Zimbabwe who have been to the maternity ward and who still spend time in the kitchen without in any way impinging on their ability to handle their senior position in national and international matters.


The Gender Based Violence (GBV) Indicators Research Botswana launched at the summit shows that 67% of women in Botswana have experienced GBV. A lower proportion of men, 44%, compared to the proportion of women reporting GBV said they perpetrated GBV in Botswana. The most predominant form of GBV experienced by women and perpetrated by men in the three countries occurs within intimate partnerships. Sixty-six percent of women in Botswana reported experiencing intimate partner violence in their lifetime.


The research has called on political leaders and key decision-makers to address GBV holistically in their public discourse; allocate financial resources for the implementation of National Action Plans; support capacity-building for GBV service providers; and ensure the establishment of centralised country GBV databases to allow for reporting on instruments such as the CEDAW and the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development. 

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