Secretary General, Ms. Boemo Sekgoma Remarks - End Of Term Review Multi-Stakeholder Validation Meeting
END OF TERM REVIEW Multi-stakeholder Validation Meeting Venue: Johannesburg, South Africa
Date: 11-12th February 2023
Purpose: To validate initial findings of the SADC-PF SRHR, HIV and AIDS Governance Project (2019-2023)
1. The SADC-PF is currently running the SRHR, HIV and AIDS Governance programme in collaboration with its Member Parliaments. It is a parliamentary project which aims to ensure that SADC national Parliaments conduct targeted parliamentary interventions to promote universal access to SRHR, HIV and AIDS services whilst consolidating the democratic drive.
2. Whilst it is an SRHR Programme, it is also a governance initiative that looks into the parliamentary functions that can heighten accountability, transparency and hold Government to account on key governance issues. In this respect, the Project highlights the synergy and linkages which exist between SRHR and democracy and aims to unleash the full potential of SADC national Parliaments to promote democratization and human rights.
3. The rationale of the Project stemmed out of a rigorous situational analysis which revealed that there are numerous SRHR gaps in the SADC region which could be cured by Parliamentary interventions. These included the focus areas of gender equality, access to SRHR commodities, Early and Unintended Pregnancies and safe abortion, Comprehensive Sexuality Education and Key Populations, to cite but a few main areas.
4. In a nutshell, the vision and purpose of the Project is Universal Access to SRHR, HIV and AIDS services through parliamentary interventions across the SADC region within a conducive framework for democratic accountability. The Project Proposal has been shared with you and I believe you have garnered all information.
5. Since the Forum operates under a project with set objectives, the priorities of the Forum and its member parliaments are project bound.
6. There was an evolution in priorities in the sense that with time, it became apparent that there was a need to reinforce the governance component and introduce new outcomes on the consolidation of the democratic drive and the advancement of human rights. Addressing issues from a human rights perspective has bolstered the Project since SRHR is after all a core component of the human right to health. In addition, this has allowed the Forum to explore other themes such as the right to information or the right to education which are also linked to SRHR and CSE. The project change to include democracy and human rights components was successfully worked out in collaboration with the Swedish SRHR Regional team.
7. I wish to add that the Project operates at 2 levels, the regional level where the Forum implements the project through its organs which are Standing Committees relevant to SRHR, as well as the national level which are activities implemented within national parliaments. There is synergy between the 2 levels since regional directives in the form of resolutions are also implemented at national level such as on the domestication of Model Laws.
8. Besides, there is synergy between the Project and other programmes/initiatives under the Swedish HIV Response, since the Forum collaborates with like-minded organisations such as UN Agencies, CSO's e.g SAFAIDS, the African Population and Health Research Centre (APHRC) among others etc.
9. There are staff/Researchers who are appointed within the programme to drive the SRHR initiatives both at regional and national level. At national level, SRHR Researchers are permanently based within national Parliaments to prepare and implement SRHR activities and build the capacity of Parliamentarians.
Although there was initial funding from Norway under a previous phase, this phase of the Project is fully funded by Sweden.
Stakeholder interactions (views on type of stakeholders; purpose of interaction; alignment with other actors; complimentarity)
10. The Forum always pursue a multi-stakeholder approach to build the capacity of parliamentarians. In this regard, Civil Society Organisations, Line Ministries (especially those on Gender and Public health), statutory organisations such as Human Rights commissions, Ombudspersons for children etc, are all motivated to interact with Parliament under the Project. The Project ensures that all communication gaps with parliament are bridged and that all stakeholders work together. This collaborative relationship is consolidated through National Working Groups which act as buffers to steer the Project, avoid duplication and build complementarity in functions.
11. There is also the issue that MPs may come from different backgrounds, and therefore, there is a need to ensure that they are properly capacitated by multi-stakeholders to effectively engage on SRHR.
- Observable results and impacts (views on results in terms of prevention; care and treatment; research and development; capacity building; evaluations and documented outcomes)
Observable results are that indeed, there is an escalation in SRHR parliamentary deliberations due to the Project. SRHR related laws have been enacted by Parliament and HIV/AIDS budgets have progressively increased in most implementing countries over the last 3 years. Oversight interventions by Parliamentarians have ensured that Government was held to account on issues such as child marriage, access to medicines and reproductive health. Recent examples of legislation are the Children's Act in Mauritius which came into force in January 2022, the Sexual Offenders Registry Act in Botswana and the Counter Domestic Violence Act in Lesotho. All outcomes and summary of parliamentary interventions are documented through annual narrative reports.
- Lessons learnt (what has the Swedish regional HIV programme done really well/could have done better; effect from switching to SRHR programme; comparison to other regional programmes; other lessons learnt)
The Swedish regional HIV programme has worked really well in the SADC region, with an unprecedented increase in parliamentary interventions over the years, and with several progressive legislation enacted across different SADC Member States. Key lessons learned over the years include the need to ensure a robust partnership framework both at regional and national level, and the need to ensure that the democratic framework remains a strong one so as to enable parliament to function efficiently.
It was also found that all functions of parliament are equally important (that is legislative, budgetary, oversight and representative functions), as one function reinforces another. For instance, the oversight function of MPs may call MPs to demand accountability on when new SRHR laws will be enacted or when budget allocations will be increased.
Ms Boemo Sekgoma 11 February, 2023
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