Notice of Meeting - Regional Womens Parliamentary Caucus Meeting Theme: “Post Covid in the SADC Region: Meeting Women’s Needs in a Context of Multiplied Challenges”
NOTICE OF MEETING
You are invited to a Zoom meeting of the SADC PF Regional Women Parliamentary Caucus (RWPC) under the THEME: “POST COVID IN THE SADC REGION: MEETING WOMEN’S NEEDS IN A CONTEXT OF MULTIPLIED CHALLENGES”
When: Thursday, 17 June 2021 from 11:00 AM to 17:00 Johannesburg Time.
Please register in advance for the meeting on this link:
After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.
Concept Note Regional Womens Parliamentary Caucus Meeting Theme: “Post Covid in the SADC Region: Meeting Women’s Needs in a Context of Multiplied Challenges” 17th June 2021
- The Regional Women’s Parliamentary Caucus (RWPC) of the Southern African Development Community Parliamentary Forum organizes a Zoom Meeting to discuss the ways that Parliamentarians can work with their local governments to help mitigate the challenges faced by women before, during and post COVID-19.
- If the situation was dire for women’s empowerment and development before the COVID-19 Pandemic, the crisis has only come to bring those challenges to the surface and the Post-Covid era comes to present a time for urgent change, in order to prevent a further exasperation of existing inequalities between women and men, girls and boys.
- COVID-19 may be considered the worst economic social and health crisis of the century, so far, and at this point, governments are scrambling to find solutions and implement recovery plans that guarantee economic growth for all. Nevertheless, the situation is a bit grimmer for women in the region.
- Women are more likely than men to have the lowest paid and least protected jobs that are the first to fall away in economic crises. Women account for a significant influx of informal and cross border trading, agriculture and entrepreneurship. Approximately 74% of women in Africa are engaged in the informal sector, working as nannies, street vendors or domestic workers, all of which are jobs where access to social security, health insurance, or entitlement to sick leave are limited or simply not provided. Women also comprise most of the smallholder farming sector that has been paralyzed due to the travel restrictions imposed by many states to mitigate the spread of the disease. Migrant workers, in their majority women, have their rights, movements and remittances equally restricted due to pandemic control measures. The vulnerability persists as schools remain closed, and the likeliness of the increase of girls dropping out and early marriages due to poverty is practically inevitable.
- According to a UNWomen and UNFPA report, “the COVID-19 Pandemic has had far reaching and diverse effects on women and girls and will set back global efforts to achieve most gender related SDG targets, especially those related to SDG3 (Ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being at all ages) and SDG 5 (Achieving gender equality and empowering all). The alarm has been sounded.
- According to this same study, more than 60% of Women and Men in Malawi, Mozambique and South Africa experienced a complete loss or decline in personal incomes, deepening already high poverty rates and entrenching the gender disparity of women being more likely than men to live in extreme poverty.
- As said by Dr. Julitta Onabanjo, Regional Director of UNFPA in East and Southern Africa, “The pandemic has a strong gender dimension, with women at the front line as health and care responders, at the same time experiencing a kick-on impact on several fronts, including their sexual and reproductive health. We have seen communities that have resorted to negative coping mechanisms such as child, early and forced marriages. We have also see escalating levels of domestic violence and abuse. The consequences being a denial of women and young girls’ health, rights and socio-economic prospects. By denying their prospects and potential, you deny society the opportunity to prosper.
- All the SADC Member states are parties to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Radical Discrimination (CERD), the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and The African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights (ACHPR). Only DRC and Zimbabwe have not ratified the Convention Against Torture (CAT). Botswana, Comoros, DRC and Mozambique are not parties to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR).
- At the continental level, in June of 2020 the AU Commission on Women, Gender and Development Directorate set in motion the “Maputo Protocol Scorecard and Index Framework” as a monitoring and evaluation tool that will be used not only as a safety measure against the violation of women’s rights during the emergency crises, and as a recovery tool. It is expected that this tool will enhance accountability for how Member States implement the obligations that they commit to. Only 12 countries in the SADC region are party to the Maputo Protocol, and all except for Mauritius have ratified the SADC Treaty and the Protocol on Gender.
- In the specific case of GBV, SADC Member States have agreed to the commitment to eliminate GBV by 2030 and the SADC-PF commissioned the development of the Model Law on Gender-Based Violence that could be used by its member states to prevent, address and combat all forms of GBV. By guiding Member States in the ratification, domestication and implementation of the relevant international and regional principles, guidelines and obligations that inform gender-based violence prevention and response interventions at Member State level, the law has become of primordial necessity in this post-COVID19 era.
- A primary aspect of the recovery is the COVID-19 vaccine which is recognized as the only viable means of combatting the disease. It is therefore, heartening to note that according to the WHO, as of the beginning of the month of June, 51 of the 53 African countries had received doses of the vaccine, although only 48 had begun administering them.
- Evidence available shows that vaccine roll out has been slow in most countries and Africa still does not have enough vaccines. It is imperative for the SADC region to work towards a total removal of all obstacles hampering the ability to access vaccines. According to research, it should stand that until all of us have access to vaccines, no one, including those that are getting the vaccine, are safe. It is only through an equitable approach that we can ensure eradication of the virus on the African continent, and globally.
- We continue to face a lack of accountability, absence of or limited access to verifiable data, limited capacity for data and information processing, and the lack a platform for the identification of best practices that can be adapted into a mechanism for the successful resurfacing of African economies.
- Through their constitutional mandates in their respective national Parliaments, and through forums such as this one Women Parliamentarians have and get the capacity to advocate for and promote the effectiveness of the measures adopted by governments in order to guarantee that the Rights, Protection and Empowerment of women and girls are taken into account at every level of implementation. As part of the effort to elaborate the GBV Model Law, this intersected characteristic of discrimination and disempowerment of women and girls brought about by the pandemic equally need to be carefully considered.
- The SADC Gender Policy recognizes that women and girls face challenges in accessing legal rights, education, health and economic resources. The increase in GBV incidence exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic makes it an urgency for Member States to carefully assess where they stand, and where they need to in order for the living conditions, for women and girls to radically change in an eventual Post-COVID era and hence achieve development targets recommended in the International and Regional Conventions ratified by the Member States of SADC.
- In an Assessment of Compliance of Existing Southern African Development Community (SADC) Member States’ Gender-Based Violence (GBV) Laws to International Agreements and SADC Regulations, it is recommended that all Member States should be encouraged to ratify the international and regional treaties which provide benchmark for GBV legislation. It also states that the Model Law will be central in ensuring that post ratification, domestication is comprehensive and in line with international and regional standards, while prioritizing the following:
- Comprehensive definitions of crimes related to GBV;
- Uniformity in victim support services;
- Provision of free legal aid for survivors;
- Recognition of multiple and intersecting vulnerabilities;
- Revision of sentencing guidelines; and
- Harmonization in legal age of majority.
- The specific objectives of the Zoom meeting are:
- To analyze the many ways in which GBV has been exacerbated in the context of the COVID-19 Pandemic;
- To explore the ways in which women’s and girls’ rights have been violated and could be promoted positively for the period post COVID-19;
- To engage with the RWPC in promoting women’s and girls’ right to freedom from discrimination and access to civil liberties and equal labor rights in the face of COVID-19;
- To promote continuous peer learning among Parliamentarians (sharing information, experiences and challenges, relating to and amidst the present context of COVID-19.
- The expected outcomes of the RWPC Meeting are:
- To have areas and means of action for mitigation of violation of women’s and girls’ labor rights clearly defined
- To take further steps towards the elaboration and approval of the GBV Model Law
- Each country will present the impact of GBV within the context of COVID-19 and on progress on COVID-19 vaccination, including progress made in enabling women to access COVID Vaccines through a PowerPoint presentation or a short intervention of no more than 7 minutes
- Presentations on:
- The safety of COVID-19 vaccinations and related ethical considerations;
- Findings from a study conducted by UN Women and UNFPA on Gender consideration in the context of GBV.
VENUE AND DATE
- The meeting will take place via the platform Zoom on June 17thh, 2020
- The Zoom meeting targets the MPs from RWPC, CSOs and partners of development involved in the promotion of gender equality and labor rights of women and girls, particularly in the context of the COVID-19 situation.
Concept Note - Standing Committee on Trade, Industry, Finance And Investment (TIFI), Sunday, 11th April, 2021
THEME: ENHANCING REGIONAL ECONOMIC INTEGRATION THROUGH INFRASTRUCTURE DEVELOPMENT: A CASE OF ONE STOP BORDER POST
Infrastructure development is very fundamental in the trade facilitation agenda as well as in deepening regional economic integration among Regional Economic Communities (RECs). This is because well-established infrastructure such as roads, railways and border infrastructure, among others facilitate efficient intra-regional trade and the free movement of goods, services and people across boundaries. It follows, therefore, that the absence of well-established infrastructure negatively impacts the flow of goods and services including individuals. The African Union (AU) Agenda 2063 aspires to put in place the necessary infrastructure to support Africa’s accelerated integration and growth, technological transformation, trade and development. This infrastructure development is therefore aimed at catalising integration and intra-African trade and investment, among other things.
One key element in facilitating infrastructure development relating to trade is the model of One-Stops Border Post (OSBPs). The OSBP concept refers to the legal and institutional framework, facilities, and associated procedures that enable goods, people, and vehicles to stop in a single facility in which they undergo necessary controls following applicable regional and national laws to exit one state and enter the adjoining state (OSBP Sourcebook, 2nd Edition, 2016)
In 2004, the East African Community (EAC) together with the Northern Corridor Transit and Transport Coordination Authority developed the East African Transport and Trade Facilitation Project, which among other activities, called for the development of OSBPs in the Region. OSBPs have also been identified as a central element in the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA) and its associated Priority Action Plan (PAP) prioritising continental programs to address the infrastructure deficit that severely hampers Africa’s competitiveness in the global market (ibid).
The Chirundu OSBP, the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe, is the first OSBP in the African region. The OSBP programme was initiated by the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) Regional Economic Community and the Zimbabwean and Zambian governments embarked on the preparations to launch an OSBP at Chirundu in 2004 (COMESA, 2013). Following the launch of the Chirundu OSBP, with the support of development partners, the concept and development of OSBPs has expanded rapidly with the support of development partners as one of the major tools to tackle impediments to the growth of trade in Africa. More than 80 OSBPs/joint border posts (JBPs) on the continent are now at the planning or implementation stage. However, as of 2016, not all OSBPs that have been constructed are fully functional (OSBP Sourcebook, 2nd Edition, 2016).
However, despite the progress recorded of more than 80 OSBS in the process of being operationalised, and the anticipated benefits of the model of OSBP such as improvement in physical infrastructure, streamlining the bureaucratic clearance procedures, and generally improving the efficiency in border management and operations, very little is known regarding the progress and trajectory of implementing the OSBP model in the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) Region. Therefore, the role of Regional Parliaments in facilitating pieces of legislation to support the establishment of OSBP and advocating for adequate budget allocation to support the core cannot be downplayed. With the commencement of trade under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) on 1st January, 2021, acceleration of infrastructure development under the OSBP model will be very fundamental in realising the returns from intra-regional trade under the AfCFTA and under other trade Agreements.
With this background, the TIFI Committee will consider the theme Enhancing Regional Economic Integration through Infrastructure Development through the concept of OSBP.
The objectives of the Committee meeting on Enhancing Regional Economic Integration through Infrastructure Development: A case of One Stop Border Posts are to:
- understand the background to the concept of OSBPs
- explore the benefits of OSBPs;
- appreciate the role of OSBPs in the trade facilitation agenda including harmonisation and simplification of international trade procedures;
- appreaciate the lessons learnt, the challenges being faced and the prospects, if any, in the implementation of OSBPS;
- learn the status in implementing the model of OSBP in the Southern African Region;
- establish the role national Parliaments can play in enhancing regional economic integration through infrastructure development;
The virtual meeting will be a one day activity hosted by the SADC Parliamentary Forum (SADC PF) and convened by the by the SADC PF Standing Committee on Trade, Industry, Finance and Investment (TIFI). The meeting will receive expert presentations from COMESA, the Zambia Revenue Authority, Zimbabwe Revenue Authority and the Southern Africa Cross Border Traders’ Association.
Venue and Date
The Meeting will be held virtually on Zoom on 11th April, 2021 from 09:30 to 16:00 (GMT+2) and simultaneous interpretation will be available in the three official languages of SADC PF, namely English, French and Portuguese.
The Session will be attended by members of the SADC PF Standing Committee on on Trade, Industry, Finance and Investment and stakeholders drawn from Civil Society Organisations, the media and technical partners in SADC.
Minutes of the Virtual Meeting of The Standing Committee On Trade, Industry, Finance And Investment (TIFI) Held On Thursday, 29th October, 2020
The virtual meeting of the Standing Committee on Trade, Industry, Finance and Investment (TIFI) was held on Monday, 6th July, 2020. In attendance were the following Members who convened via Zoom:
Hon. Anele Ndebele (Chairperson) Zimbabwe
Hon. Ruth Mendes (Vice Chairperson) Angola
Hon. Dumelang Saleshando Botswana
Hon. Tsepang Tsita-Mosena Lesotho
Hon. Denis Namachekecha Malawi
Hon. Jimmy Donovan Madagascar
Hon. Rosina Ntshetsana Komane Proxy South Africa
Hon. Dr. Situmbeko Musokotwane Zambia
ABSENT WITH APOLOGY
An apology from the Parliament of Eswatini was noted.
Ms. Boemo Sekgoma Secretary General
Mrs Edna K Zgambo Committee Secretary
Mr Sheuneni Kurasha Programmes Manager
Mr Rangarirai Chikova Resource Person (AFRODAD) Mr Adrian Chikowore, Resource Person (AFRODAD)
Mr Misael Kateshi Resource Person
On a proposal by Zambia and Seconded by Malawi, the agenda was adopted without amendments as set out below.
- Credentials of Delegates and Apologies.
- Adoption of the Agenda.
- Welcome Remarks by the Chairperson of the Committee.
- Consideration of Minutes and Matters Arising from the Minutes of the previous Meeting held from 6th to 7th July, 2020.
- Consideration of the draft work plan for the year.
- Consideration of the Theme Enhancing the Role of Parliament in Budgeting for Increased Budget Credibility and Public Financial Accountability in times of Pandemics and Crises.
- Any Other Business.
- Conclusion and Closing remarks by the Chairperson.
The Standing Committee met under the theme, ‘Enhancing the Role of Parliament in Budgeting for Increased Budget Credibility and Public Financial Accountability in times of Pandemics and Crises.’ The Chairperson of the Standing Committee on Trade, Industry, Finance and Investment (TIFI), Hon Anele Ndebele, welcomed the Members and resource persons to the meeting. The Chairperson acknowledged that by leveraging the limitless possibilities that Information Technology (IT) offered, the Forum had made it possible for Members of the Forum, wherever they were, to discharge their mandate, which included representation, law making and ensuring accountability. The Chairperson noted that the theme under consideration was timely and relevant because a defining characteristic of crises and pandemics was their unpredictability. This necessitated pre-emptive planning and budgeting to ensure robust, timely and adequate responses, ideally those that were financially supported by domestic resources.
In conclusion, Hon Ndebele invited Honourable Members to join him in congratulating His Excellency Mr Wavel Ramkalawan, a former Member of Parliament of the SADC Parliamentary Forum on his well-deserved election as President of the Republic of Seychelles.
CONSIDERATION OF THE WORKPLAN
On a proposal by Angola and Seconded by Zambia the work plan was adopted as follows:
- Summer School organised by the African Forum and Network on Debt and Development (AFRODAD to be held on );
- Review of the status of ratification of SADC Protocols on a date to be advised; and
- Review of the One Stop Border Posts on a date to be advised.
CONSIDERATION OF THE MINUTES AND MATTERS ARISING FROM THE MEETING OF THE TIFI STANDING COMMITTEE HELD ON THURSDAY, 23RD MAY 2019, PREMIER HOTEL O. R TAMBO AIRPORT, JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA
On a proposal by Malawi and seconded by Lesotho, the minutes of the previous meeting were adopted without amendments and the minutes were approved as a true reflection of the TIFI Standing Committee meeting which took place on Monday, 6th and Tuesday, 7th July, 2020. Further, no matters arising were raised,
Budget Credibility and factors driving low budget credibility
The Standing Committee on TIFI received and considered an expert presentation from Rangarirai Chikova a Policy Analyst for Domestic Resources Mobilisation from AFRODAD. Mr. Chikova’s presentation highlighted the important issues as outlined below.
- Budget credibility was noted to be a fundamental objective of any developing Public Financial Management (PFM) System. It was recognised as an important component of effective institutions in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) framework.
- A credibly implemented budget was one that had only small deviations from the approved one both in terms of overall expenditure and revenues and in terms of the allocation between programs.
- Factors driving budget incredibility included: under spending which could occur when revenue collections were lower than anticipated, delays in receipt of revenues and unpredictable revenue flows. Others included ineffective procurement systems and inflexible procurement rules that made it difficult to execute and insertion of infeasible projects into the budget by legislators thereby exacerbating budget credibility
- Regarding underspending in developing countries, on average, national budgets in aggregate were underspent by almost 10 per cent. Levels of underspending were also higher in critical sectors, such as agriculture, Education and health.
- High reliance on mineral rents, weak tax laws, Illicit Financial Flows (IFF), large informal sector, corruption and tax holidays were noted to be the major factors related to revenue deviations. Between the year 2004 and 2013, a cumulative of USD 309 Million had been lost from the SADC Region through IFF.
- Pandemics, crises and national disasters were unforeseen circumstances which usually resulted in governments spending more than they had planned.
- In the context of the Covid-19 Pandemic, the SADC region economic growth forecast was revised from a growth of 2.3 per cent in October 2019 to a contraction of 3.4 per cent in April 2020. As a result, the fiscal deficit of the SADC region was estimated to widen to 8.9 per cent compared to the October, 2019 of 4.5 per cent, a reflection that the region spent more than what was planned.
- Lock downs and temporary closure of companies resulted in revenue losses. IFF also rose due to the fact that countries were placing greater attention to control the spread of the pandemic and giving a blind eye to smuggling.
- The presenter noted that prior to the Covid-19, 45 million people were estimated to be food insecure in the SADC Region as a result of climate shocks, as well as structural macro-economic factors. Covid outbreak and its debilitating impacts on livelihoods exacerbated the situation.
- To effectively ensure budget credibility, the TIFI Committee was informed that Honourable Members must actively engage in, among other things, Pre-budgets debates and take stock of what had worked in the previous year and devise ways to address identified challenges and see to it that parliament becomes aware of the government’s fiscal policy intentions.
The TIFI Standing Committee concluded and resolved as follows:
Following the presentation, the TIFI Committee discussed and drew the following conclusions and recommendations
- Budgets that were not credible undermined confidence between those who provided funds (taxpayers and donors) and those entrusted to administer them in accordance with the agreed plan.
- Ineffective procurement systems especially during pandemic and crises created room for revenue leakages and made it difficult to execute budgets as appropriated. It was the responsible of Parliaments to enhance fiscal transparency practices, such as adopting measures to report whether budgets had been executed as planned, or whether there had been deviations along with clear explanations for the reasons for deviations.
- Forgone revenue through unnecessary tax holidays could potentially increase government revenue and reduce the burden of accruing debt to finance national budget. This called for national Parliaments to legislate on laws that curb IFFs, tax evasion, tax avoidance including eliminating harmful tax holidays.
- National Parliaments should thoroughly scrutinise tax mining development agendas so that our governments do not continue losing revenue through clauses embedded in these agendas.
- As a result of crises and pandemics, nations were quick to borrow from both domestic and international economies to respond to the effects brought about by crises. The increase in debts implied less resources for budget allocations to critical sectors such as education, health and agriculture because collected revenues are diverted to debt servicing.
- Most budgets were based on unrealistic assumptions and weak frameworks. Therefore, there was need to strengthen national governments’ revenue planning and forecasting by addressing gaps in technical capacities and removing political incentives to inflate revenue projections
- During unprecedented pandemics or crises, expenditure control mechanisms turned out to be weaker in practice, fiscal rules and procurement procedures were flouted in the process due to the perceived urgency to respond to the effects of the pandemic. In times of pandemics, parliamentary oversight must be fully exercised to ensure prudent utilisation of resources by the Executive. Further, national fiscal transparency practices must be enhanced.
- Covid Pandemic outbreak and its debilitating impacts on livelihoods had exacerbated the livelihood situation in the SADC Region. Prior to the Covid-19, 45 million people were estimated to be food insecure in the SADC Region as a result of climate shocks, as well as structural macro-economic factors. Therefore, national governments must develop roadmaps, guiding spending towards poverty alleviating programs and effective delivery of public services and progress on sustainable development.
International Public Finance and Budget Credibility in SADC
The Standing Committee on TIFI received and considered an expert presentation from Mr Adrian Chikowore, the Policy and Research Consultant in International Public Finance at AFRODAD. Mr. Chikowore’s presentation highlighted matters as outlined below.
- The TIFI Committee was informed that Financing for Development (FfD) was about promoting a comprehensive and integrated approach to providing the policies and resources needed to support sustainable development around the world.
- It included the mobilisation of domestic resources (such as tax revenues), international financial resources (such as Official Development Assistance (ODA) and Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), remittances and Public Private Partnerships (PPPs).
- The presenter highlighted that harnessing the role of the private sector in financing development, maximising the use of innovative financing sources and mechanisms as well as increasing trade capacity and investment to create jobs and promoting debt sustainability were also tenets of FfD.
- Given the challenges in raising finances domestically and falling ODA and FDI, PPPs had become critical in raising resources from private sector for development interventions. As such, governments had been raising capital/financing through partnerships with private actors. However, the results had not been all positive especially recognising the fact that PPPs were seldom on the budget books of governments thereby giving a false picture on the fiscal position of governments.
- Eight countries had dominated the blended finance/PPP deal share in the sub-Sahara region with Uganda at the top accounting for at least 34 per cent with an average deal size of $205 million per year between 2012 and 2017. DRC accounted for 11 per cent share of blended finance/PPP deals in the region with an average deal size of USD$230 million. The difference between these top 8 blended finance/PPP destinations was based upon geography, resources endowments and sectors in which finances were disbursed towards or sectors in which private sector realised profit with limited risks.
The TIFI Standing Committee concluded and resolved as follows:
Following the presentation, the TIFI Committee discussed and drew the following conclusions and recommendations.
- Given the challenges in raising finances domestically and falling ODA and FDI, SADC Governments must harness the role of the private sector in financing development, maximising the use of innovative financing sources and mechanisms in order to sustainably provide required services to citizens.
- National parliaments must enhance oversight on ODA disbursements and PPP contracts in respective countries in order to maximise returns from PPP projects and obtain value for money through the ODA.
- Member countries must increase advocacy on sustainable financing instruments through Pro-People development finance especially on PPPs including inclusive stakeholder consultations on PPPs. Member countries must enhance capacity development on the implications of International Public Finances on national budgeting cycles.
Role of Parliament in Budgeting and Oversight with Particular Reference to the COVID-19 Pandemic and other Crises
The Standing Committee on TIFI also received and considered an expert presentation from Mr Misael Kateshi, the Head of Department for the Budget Office at the Zambian Parliament. A summary of the presentation was as outlined below.
- Oversight was one of the functions of the Legislature and in most jurisdictions. The Constitution mandated Parliament to oversee the performance of the Executive functions.
- The TIFI Committee was informed that crises came in many forms and varying degrees of severity and location. They could be as a result of human activity or could be natural.
- Measures that governments could take to deal with a crisis or pandemic included fiscal and monetary policy measures. Huge amounts of resources were usually mobilised domestically and externally to deal with any crisis. These measures usually came with accountability issues.
- The presenter submitted that experience suggested that reasons for accountability challenges included: large scale of spending which triggered rent-seeking behaviour, uncoordinated involvement of many actors created opportunities for inefficiency and leakage, the speed with which interventions were implemented tended to result in Public Financial Management (PFM) regulations being relaxed such as those relating to procurement, accounting for extra-budgetary funds, and ex-post verification.
- The Committee was informed that it was important for Parliaments to scrutinise the allocation of donated resources and reallocation of savings arising from debt relief such as the Debt Service Suspension Initiative.
- It was noted that multi-sector approaches to deal with crises were incomplete without parliamentary involvement. Therefore, oversight mechanisms during a crisis must include activities such as The Parliamentary Committee System, Motions and Petitions, among many others.
- Therefore, Parliamentary Budget Offices and Research Units and Parliamentary Committees needed to be capacitated and active in order to be relevant in supporting Honourable Members and providing accountability respectively during a crises or pandemics.
- The presenter emphasised on the need for the crisis resolution process to be transparent and that all stakeholders should have access to information. In addition, closer collaboration with Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) must exist as they conduct social accountability exercises.
- It was proposed that Supreme Audit Institutions should as much as possible conduct special audits on programmes to deal with any crisis in a timely manner in order to arrest anomalies.
Following the presentation by Mr Kateshi, the TIFI Committee discussed and drew the following conclusions and recommendations.
- The SADC Parliamentary Forum and national parliaments must actively engage in capacitating parliamentary budget offices, Research Units and Parliamentary Committees needed in order to be relevant in supporting Honourable Members and providing accountability during a crises or pandemics.
- There was need for the SADC governments to provide a transparent crisis resolution process and ensure that closer collaboration with CSOs existed. In addition, national parliaments must ensure all stakeholders had easy access to information required for their social accountability exercises.
- Importantly, Supreme Audit Institutions should as much as possible conduct special audits on programmes to deal with any crisis in a timely manner in order to address the findings in accordance with the provisions of the PFM legislation.
- Finally, the Committee emphasised the importance of Parliaments to scrutinise the allocation of donated resources and reallocation of savings arising from debt relief such as the Debt Service Suspension Initiative.
Conclusion and Vote of Thanks
The Chairperson extended his profound appreciation on behalf of the Committee to the resource persons from AFRODAD and the Parliamentary Budget Office in the Zambian Parliament for positively responding to the call. Hon Ndebele urged the Honourable Members to make use of the valuable lessons learnt to make a difference in their oversight, legislative and representative roles in their respective parliaments, including during pandemics and crises.
Some Honourable Members expressed concern on the law participation of some Committee Members. The Committee Chairperson urged all Members to prioritise activities of the Committee even amidst the inability of convening physically to discuss matters that concern the SADC region.
Concept Note Meeting of the SADC PF Standing Committee On Gender Equality, Women Advancement And Youth Development, Wednesday 14th April 2021
THEME: Unpaid Care and Domestic Work: Why Should Parliament Care?
Wednesday 14th April 2021
INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND
Gender equality cannot be talked about without talking about Unpaid Care and Domestic Work (UCDW), which a critical, yet largely unseen dimension of human well-being that provides essential domestic services within households and community members.
The current conventional measure of most economies in the world ignores a large portion of work that affects all of us. Most of this work is done by women and girls for free. In 2018, 606 million women of working age declared themselves to be unavailable for employment due to unpaid care work, while only 41 million men were inactive for the same reason. Women, therefore, have less time to engage in paid work, network or participate in activities for societal change. This undermines their well-being, fosters financial dependence and limits options for decent work, to a point of restricting women to low status and part-time jobs in the informal sector.
Women and girls are responsible for 76.2 percent of UCDW. UCDW refers to all non-market, unpaid activities carried out in household, including both direct care of persons such as the sick children or elderly, and indirect care such as cooking, cleaning, fetching water or fuel. These tasks vary in physical effort and intensity depending on socio-economic status and/or marital status. Estimates based on time-use survey data in 64 countries, representing 66.9 percent of the world’s working age population show that 16.4 billion hours are spent in unpaid care work every day. This is equivalent to 2 billion people working 8 hours per day with no remuneration (ILO, 2019). Unpaid care work has been identified as an obstacle to women’s empowerment because women’s disproportionate share has a direct impact on their ability to participate in the paid economy, leading to gender gaps in employment outcomes, wages and pensions.
Target 5.4 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals sets the direction on how to address unpaid care work. The first step is to recognise the value of unpaid care work. This will require data on how women and men spend their time. However, only 83 countries have conducted time-use surveys, and only 24 percent of those were conducted after 2010 (UN Women, 2010). Time-use data for developing countries is even more limited due to significant costs and capacities required.
The second step is to reduce the physically demanding and hazardous tasks such as cooking with unsafe fuel sources. Clean cooking for all would save more than100 billion hours per year of women collecting and hauling fuel wood, thereby freeing women’s time to pursue economic opportunities (IEA, 2017). Entry points to reduce time spent on unpaid care work such as electric grinding mills, water taps and biogas plants have been identified.
The third step is to share the remaining hours more equally between all actors, including men, women, states and the private sector. The availability of affordable and quality care services is, therefore, key to promoting women’s economic empowerment and ensure their participation in paid work.
As a result of little evidence being gathered about the extent or distribution of unpaid work in different contexts such as rural and urban, there has been limited understanding of the impact of UCDW on women and girls, causing to receive little consideration in public policy. Against this background, the Committee finds it necessary to outline the need for national Parliaments in the SADC region to recognise, value and validate Unpaid Care and Domestic Work (UCDW) by ensuring the provision of public services, infrastructure and social protection policies in the region.
The objectives of this undertaking are to:
- deepen the Committee’s understanding of the magnitude, dynamics and impact of unpaid care and domestic work and its contribution to gender inequality and low status of women in the SADC region and identify possible avenues;
- make unpaid care and domestic work a dialogue issue in national Parliaments so that it is recognised and valued;
- open up space for national policy dialogue on unpaid care and domestic work with the assistance of national Parliaments;
- encourage SADC member States to conduct of time-use surveys for the development of programmes and policies which will promote the recognition, reduction and redistribution of UCDW; and
- make recommendations on how parliaments’ role can be enhanced on issues of UCDW.
APPROACH AND METHODOLOGY TO THE MEETING
The Committee will benefit from expert presentations, discussions and interactive dialogue by the following:
- UN Women;
- Oxfam International; and
- Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
Annotated Agenda Meeting of the SADC PF Standing Committee On Gender Equality, Women Advancement And Youth Development
THEME: UNPAID CARE AND DOMESTIC WORK: WHY SHOULD PARLIAMENT CARE?
DATE: WEDNESDAY, 14TH APRIL, 2021
TIME: 09:30 – 12:30 AND 14:30 – 16:00
- Credentials of Delegates and Apologies.
- Adoption of the Agenda.
- Welcome Remarks by the Chairperson.
- Minutes of the SADC-PF Standing Committee on Gender Equality, Women Advancement and Youth Development Meeting held virtually on Wednesday, 28th October, 2020, ahead of the 48th Plenary Assembly Session.
- Matters Arising from the Minutes of the SADC-PF Standing Committee on Gender Equality, Women Advancement and Youth Development Meeting held virtually on Wednesday, 28th October, 2020, ahead of the 48th Plenary Assembly Session.
- Consideration of the Concept Note for the Proposed Theme for the 48th Plenary Assembly Session.
- Any Other Business.
ISSUES FOR CONSIDERATION
Adoption of the Agenda
Members are invited to consider and adopt the draft Agenda presented by the Secretariat.
Matters Arising from the Minutes of the SADC-PF Standing Committee on Gender Equality, Women Advancement and Youth Development Meeting held virtually on Wednesday, 28th October, 2020, ahead of the 48th Plenary Assembly Session.
The Committee is invited to recall that at its meeting on 28th October, 2020, ahead of the 48th Plenary Assembly Session, the Committee proposed to recommend a strong collaboration with traditional institutions because when laws to do with child marriage or monitoring the age of consent, education or realignment or sentencing are being passed, the main issue was usually tradition.
The Committee also recommended that public awareness on child marriage prevalence, drivers and consequences should be enhanced, and called for greater government leadership and investment in its prevention and mitigation.
Further, the Committee proposed to recommend that a comprehensive post COVID 19 plan for re-opening schools should be put in place. There was need for a multi-sectoral approach, particularly in health and education to develop and communicate well-defined timelines to re-open schools with clear benchmarks and standard.
Consideration of the Concept Note for the Proposed Theme
The Committee is invited to consider and approve the proposed theme namely: Unpaid Care and Domestic Work: Why Should Parliament Care?
For UN Women and Oxfam International to be invited to give expert presentations on the theme under consideration.
Honourable Members, Ms Boemo Sekgoma-SADC PF Secretary General, and the Secretariat, it’s a great honour for me to make a closing statement for our meeting.
Honourable Members, I am delighted to note that as a Committee we have been able to meet virtually and hold our meeting as planned, and let me take this opportunity to thank the secretariat for their effort to facilitate the holding of this meeting
Honourable Members, during this meeting, though short, the Committee has discussed a number of crucial issues in relation to the implementation of the SRHR HIV/AIDS and Governance Project, and a report will be prepared for presentation to the Plenary Assembly.
Honourable Members, let me also express my sincere gratitude to our secretariat for updating the committee on the project implementation. The Presentations were quite informative, and consequently as a Committee we have learnt quite a lot and we now have a clear picture on how the project is being implemented.
Honourable Members, without wasting much of your time, let me declare the meeting closed and wish you safe stay.
Thank you all, Honourable Members
Welcome Remarks by the Chairperson of the SADC PF Standing Committee on Gender Equality, Women Advancement and Youth Development, Wednesday, 14th April, 2021
- Honourable Members of the SADC PF Standing Committee on Gender Equality, Women Advancement and Youth Development
- The Secretary General of the SADC PF, Ms Boemo Sekgoma
- Ms Anne Githuku, UN Women South Africa Country Office Representative
- Ms Chama Mwandakesa, Women’s Rights Programme Manager, Oxfam Zambia
- Ms Betty Zulu, Committee Secretary
- Representatives of Civil Society Organisations
- Representative of the Media Organisations
- Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen
It is my honour and privilege to welcome you to this very important meeting of the SADC PF Standing Committee on Gender Equality, Women Advancement and Youth Development. As a Committee that has the mandate to consider issues of women empowerment and advancement, we cannot avoid the matter of unpaid care and domestic work. This is why our theme for this meeting is “Unpaid Care and Domestic Work: Why Should Parliament Care.”
Honourable Members, Distinguished Guests
Women empowerment has, in the recent years, become a key focus in the public sector to eradicate poverty. Women empowerment and the autonomy of women and the improvement of their social, political, economic and health status is a highly important end in itself. However, this empowerment and autonomy is hampered by so many factors, one of which is the issue of Unpaid Care and Domestic Work (UCDW).
Honourable Members, Distinguished Guests
Women and girls in low income countries are responsible for a disproportionate amount of unpaid care work. It is disconcerting that in 2018, 606 million women of working age declared themselves to be unavailable for employment because of unpaid care work while only 41 million men were inactive for the same reason.
This undermines women’s well-being, fosters financial dependence and limits options for decent work, to a point of restricting women to low status. Unpaid Care and Domestic Work has been identified as an obstacle to women’s empowerment and advancement, and as Parliament, it is time that we start to recognise and value it.
The Unpaid care work carried out by women and girls often goes unnoticed and unrecognised in the calculations of a country’s economy. It is not included in labour surveys or in Gross Domestic Products (GDPs). Due to this fact, the realities of women’s and girls’ work burdens are excluded from data that inform policy making.
Distinguished Guests and Partners
SADC member states are committed to ensuring that time-use surveys are conducted and policy measures that promote shared responsibility between men and women within household and family adopted. We are committed to recognising and valuing unpaid care and domestic work through the provision of public services, infrastructure and social protection policies pursuant to Article 16 of the SADC PF Protocol on Gender and Development. However, this objective can only be achieved with your assistance.
As Members of Parliament we have the opportunity and influence to provide insight into the importance of addressing issues of gender equality and unpaid care work and catalyse and strengthen effective national and regional mechanisms that can develop policy responses to this type of work.
We need to make unpaid care work and unpaid work a dialogue issue with relevant stakeholders and promote the systematic use of gender responsive budgeting as a method to analyse this type of work, and incorporate it into the development agenda. We need to identify policy responses and put in place budget lines for implementing policies and ensure that any labour laws, labour markets and social security programmes and labour force surveys include unpaid care and domestic work.
Honourable Members, Distinguished Guests
By recognising, reducing and redistributing unpaid care work, time will be freed for women and girls to engage in formal jobs, and socio-economic and political activities. For example, ensuring that affordable and quality care services, alternative fuels such as solar, biogas and wind energy, and piped water are available, women’s economic empowerment will be promoted.
My earnest appeal is to my female parliamentarians, who face many similar care issues to be motivated to influence other parliamentarians on unpaid care and domestic work so that we start taking it out of the private and family sphere and positioning it as a human rights-based issue.
My profound gratitude goes to the Secretary General, Ms. Boemo Sekgoma and her dedicated team from the Secretariat for a job well-done in facilitating this virtual meeting. I wish to urge the honourable Members of the Committee to actively participate in this engagement.
I THANK YOU.
Minutes of the SADC PF Standing Committee On Gender Equality, Women Advancement And Youth Development Virtual Meeting Held On 28th October
- Peete Peete Ramoqai Lesotho
- Marie Jeanne d’Arc MASY GOULAMALY Madagascar
- Hon Maria do Carmo do Nascimento Angola
- Talita Monnakgotla Botswana
- Lonnie Chijere Phiri Angola
- Nkhensani Kate Bilankulu South Africa
- Busisiwe Dlamini Eswatini
- Ponde Chunga Mecha Zambia
- Goodlucky Kwaramba Zimbabwe
ABSENT WITH APOLOGY
- Democratic Republic of Congo
Ms Boemo Sekgoma Secretary General, SADC PF Secretariat
Ms Agnes M Lilungwe Namibia
Ms Zanele Mazibuko South Africa
Mr Ivan R Mouenkoula South Africa
Mr Sheuneni Kurasha SADC PF Secretariat
Ms Paulina Kanguatjivi SADC PF Secretariat
Ms Nomonde Nkayi Mozambique
Ms Mompolo Mosheti Botswana
Mr Ferdinand Paiva South Africa
Ms Veronica C Ribeira Angola
Mr Becas Mateus Mozambique
Ms Betty Zulu Zambia
Ms Soatsara M D Benandrasana Madagascar
Ms Sharon Nyirongo Zambia
Mrs Edna Zgambo Zambia
Mr Chawapiwa Mahlaya Botswana
The meeting was called to order at 09:20 hours
- Credentials of Delegates and Apologies.
- Adoption of Agenda.
- Welcome Remarks by the Chairperson.
- Consideration of Minutes of the Previous Meeting Held at the Southern Sun Hotel, O. R Tambo International Airport, Johannesburg, South Africa on 31st October, 2019, ahead of the 46th Plenary Assembly Session.
- Matters Arising from the Minutes of the Previous Meeting held at Southern Sun Hotel, O.R Tambo International Airport, Johannesburg, South Africa on 31st October, 2019, ahead of the 46th Plenary Assembly Session.
- Presentation discussion of the theme “Strengthening Parliaments’ Response in Eradicating Child Marriage During and Post COVID 19”
- Any Other Business.
CREDENTIALS OF DELEGATES AND APOLOGIES
Quorum for the meeting was duly constituted and the meeting proceeded.
ADOPTION OF AGENDA
On a motion by Zimbabwe and seconded by Botswana, the agenda was adopted without amendments.
WELCOME REMARKS BY THE CHAIRPERSON
In his welcoming remarks, the Chairperson expressed his profound gratitude to the SADC Parliamentary Forum for creating a platform for national parliaments to continue engaging despite the unprecedentedly uncertain times of COVID 19 and emphasised the pivotal role parliamentarians had to play in eradicating child marriage in the SADC region by ensuring the establishment and implementation of a robust legal and policy framework.
The Standing Committee on Gender Equality, Women Advancement and Youth Development met under the theme “Strengthening Parliaments’ Response in Eradicating Child Marriage During and Post COVID 19” whereupon the Chairperson observed that child marriage was a serious human rights violation rooted in gender inequality, poverty and tradition. The Chairperson further observed that eradicating child marriage would require long term, sustainable action across many different sectors since the causes of the practice were multifaceted.
The Chairperson noted that child marriage in the SADC region had been greatly exacerbated by COVID 19 due to lockdowns, curfews, movement restriction, and school closures and implored parliamentarians to set the political agenda as opinion leaders on ending child marriage by working closely with traditional leaders, pass budgets, monitor implementation, and ensure accountability for both national and international commitments on eradicating child marriage during and post pandemic.
CONSIDERATION OF MINUTES OF THE PREVIOUS MEETING HELD AT THE SOUTHERN SUN HOTEL, O. R TAMBO INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA ON 31ST OCTOBER, 2019, AHEAD OF THE 46TH PLENARY ASSEMBLY SESSION
On a motion by Zimbabwe and seconded by Zambia, the minutes of the previous meeting were adopted, without amendments.
MATTERS ARISING FROM THE MINUTES OF THE PREVIOUS MEETING HELD AT SOUTHERN SUN HOTEL, O.R TAMBO INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA ON 31ST OCTOBER, 2019, AHEAD OF THE 46TH PLENARY ASSEMBLY SESSION.
There were no matters arising from the minutes.
PRESENTATION ON THE AFRICA COMMON POSITION ON ENDING CHILD MARRIAGE – DR NYARADZAYI GUMBONZVANDA, AFRICAN UNION GOODWILL AMBASSADOR ON ENDING CHILD MARRIAGE
Dr Gumbonzvanda thanked the SADC PF Standing Committee on Gender Equality, Women Advancementh3 and Youth Development and the SADC region for the leadership it had exhibited in the promotion and protection of the rights of children and informed the meeting that Africa had the highest prevalence of child marriage. She stated that it was pleasing that the efforts in Southern Africa were showing a reduction in numbers although the situation in Central Africa was still concerning.
The meeting heard that the African Union (AU) had in 2014 launched a campaign to end child marriage to implement further the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child. This was upon the realisation that Agenda 2063 could not be achieved until issues confronting the continent, including gender inequality, disempowerment of girls, abuse and violation of the rights of the girl child were combated.
It was submitted that child marriage was a critical indicator that spoke to a range of violations of human rights and a range of development interventions that the African continent was yet to take. Therefore, the launch of the AU campaign and subsequent adoption in 2015 of the Africa Common Position on Ending Child Marriage was a step towards implementation, monitoring and prioritisation of resources on the continent towards these issues.
The presenter noted that most countries in the SADC region had already launched action plans and aligned the age of consent in the SADC Model Law on Ending Child Marriage and Protecting Children Already in Marriage to their national legislations and this was why the model law fundamental in driving the implementation of the African Union campaign. She, however, emphasised the need to do more for all SADC states to follow suit.
Dr Gumbonzvanda declared that the AU recognised that there were interventions that needed to be undertaken by the Executive arms of Government with regard to delivering public service in health, education, employment, food security, access to justice and social services, but also recognised that Parliaments had the role to ensure that adequate and appropriate legislation to inform policy and national laws, particularly on child marriage were in place. She also pointed out that the AU recognised the role that human rights institutions had to play in the delivery of the commitment to ending child marriage, and it was in this regard that the African Union Commission on Human Rights and the African Union Committee on the Rights and Welfare of the Child adopted a Common Statement or joint recommendation on child marriage. Within the same framework, the AU had appointed a Goodwill Ambassador on Ending Child Marriage to support the advocacy work, guide and support member states as well as to work with civil society organisations (CSOs) and the Special Rapporteur on Ending Child Marriage, who was part of the Committee on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, and a cluster of special mandate holders such as the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Women, Special Envoy on Women, Peace and Security and the Special Envoy on Youth.
The meeting was also informed that the role of civil society was critical in the work of the AU in driving the awareness, advocacy work and pushing for legislative reform and added that the AU had worked closely with a number of key partners, including Girls Not Brides and Plan International and other partners and donors working at continental and international level as well as UN agencies such as the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
The presenter informed the meeting that COVID 19 was an unprecedented crisis which had seen member states taking lock down measures on the most basic operations of life which impacted negatively on children, particularly the girl-child, in ways that no one had anticipated. The closure of schools had resulted in the increase of early pregnancies and child marriage, and its impact on education, livelihoods and employment was unparalleled. The AU through the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) and other institutions engaged strongly around the impact that COVID 19 had on communities with the most critical discussions relating to livelihoods and the economy.
The Members were informed that when COVID 19 first emerged, many African Parliaments were not in session. There was, therefore, no strong legislative voice to speak to the issue of resources and prioritisation of interventions that could not only prevent child marriage but also support and protect children already in marriage. In this vein, there was a gap in the legislative leadership in terms of emergency response. The other gap regarded decisions which lay in the purview of Parliaments relating to resourcing COVID 19. It was observed that significant resources went to the health sector, and even within the health sector, certain issues critical to young people which impacted on child marriage were not prioritised. There were less services being offered on sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), HIV and maternal heath, considering that most women likely to die due to pregnancy-related complications were between fourteen and twenty-four years.
The other area that was critical was that although many countries had social protection measures such as grants, food assistance or special support to young people, there was no sufficient focus on how to integrate issues around girls at risk or young women at risk of child marriage, teen moms or child-headed households. It was, therefore, very important that within these social protections measures, because these were big envelopes that Parliaments had oversight over, some should have been directed to cushioning young people, particularly girls, so that they did not resort to child marriage.
To conclude, the presenter talked about the role of Parliaments with regard to borrowing. The presenter mentioned that as AU Goodwill Ambassador, and as advisor to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) managing director, the discussions that were important for the continent was the role of Parliaments when Governments were negotiating for assistance on loans, grants or some other special assistance on budgetary allocations. It was in this process that issues to do with girls’ education and health for young people as well as the critical indicators for the SADC Model Law was also resourced. The integration of child marriage into the COVID 19 response was, therefore, critical.
PRESENTATION ON THE IMPACT OF COVID 19 ON EDUCATION AND CHILD MARRIAGE AND HOW TO MITIGATE THE CHALLENGES PRESENTED BY THE PANDEMIC – MS YVETTE KATHURIMA, HEAD OF ENGAGEMENT, GIRLS NOT BRIDES
The presenter started by informing the meeting that in 2020, the prevalence of child marriage in East and Southern Africa, Sub Saharan Africa and West and Central Africa was 31 per cent, 35 per cent and 39 per cent, respectively. This state of affairs had been exacerbated by the lockdowns, restrictions on movement and the closure of schools, which resulted in worsening cases of mental illness, gender-based violence and inaccessibility to sexual and reproductive health services for young women and girls. The Committee heard that the governments’ restrictions had had severe impact on the global and local economies with families and communities facing extreme stress during the pandemic due to loss of employment. The loss of work meant no source of income, hence the increase in child marriage for dowry.
Pathways through which COVID 19 was Impacting on Child Marriage
The meeting heard that COVID 19 was impacting on child marriage as set out through the following pathways:
- Disrupted learning through school closures and lockdowns
- School closures had disproportionately impacted on the poor
- Limited access to on-line learning for very few girls
- Children, particularly girls would not return to school
- Cost of education may become unaffordable for many
- Preference to educate boys over girls
- Difficulty in accessing sexual and reproductive health services
- Increase in unplanned pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
- Lack of access to menstrual hygiene management products
- Inability to access psychological support services
- Increase in Violence against Girls and Women
- Increase in rates of sexual and gender-based violence
- Shut down of emergency hotlines, services, shelters and police protection services
- Increased practices in harmful practices such as female genital mutilation as a precursor to child marriage
- Economic Impact
- Loss of income due to unemployment
- Unequal burden of unpaid care and domestic work
- Rural, isolated or slum-dwelling communities had become worse off
- Increased reports of survival sex due to shrinking incomes
Child Marriage and the COVID 19 Response: Key Considerations
The meeting was informed that to mitigate the impact of COVID 19 on education and child marriage, it was important to ensure comprehensive measures in psychological support, education, and economic and sexual and reproductive health services. There was also was need to consider responses during the acute and recovery phase, including advocacy for girls’ return to school after pregnancy their accessibility to sexual and reproductive health rights (SRHR) information and services.
The presenter informed the meeting that mitigation against the impact of the pandemic could include understanding gender equalities and harmful norms, as well as understand gender and sex disaggregated data so as to inform the design, implementation and monitoring of interventions. Further, it was important to ensure that girls and women were engaged across countries and agencies as this was critical for amplifying their voices.
Protecting the Progress made on Girls’ Right to Education
The presenter concluded by stating that because education had a profound effect on girls’ and women’s ability to claim other rights and achieve status, it was important to leverage teachers and communities; adopt appropriate distance learning practice; keep financing flowing into education systems and ensure it benefits girls and boys equally; consider the gender digital divide; safeguard vital services; engage young people; and ensure their return to school.
PRESENTATION ON THE REGIONAL FRAMEWORK ON ERADICATING CHILD MARRIAGE: UNPACKING THE SADC MODEL LAW ON ERADICATING CHILD MARRIAGE AND PROTECTING CHILDREN ALREADY IN MARRIAGE – MS ANANDITA PHILIPOSE, YOUTH AND GENDER SPECIALIST, UNITED NATIONS POPULATION FUND (UNFPA) EAST AND SOUTHERN AFRICA REGIONAL OFFICE
Ms Philipose started her presentation by informing the Committee that approximately one in three of all girls aged between twenty and twenty-four married before their 18th birthday. Notably, large variations existed between and within countries. In Mozambique, for example, nearly one in two girls, representing 48 per cent, married before their 18th birthday while in Nampula Province, more than three in five girls, representing 62 per cent, married before the age of eighteen and nearly one in five before the age of fifteen.
The Committee heard that while the percentage of child marriages had been decreasing in many countries across the region in the last decade, especially before the age of fifteen, population growth had outpaced the progress made, leading to a growth in the number of girls married. This was because adolescent girls faced multiple challenges, including child marriage, high levels of teenage pregnancy, high levels of violence and vulnerability to HIV transmission, which had been exacerbated in the COVID-19 context.
The Committee further heard that child marriage was likely the cause of three in four girls having children before the age of eighteen, not completing school, reducing future earnings of girl-children by 9 per cent and making them have less decision making ability as well as face higher risk of violence.
- Unpacking the SADC Model Law on Eradicating Child Marriage and Protecting Children Already in Marriages
The presenter gave a brief history and objectives of the SADC Model Law on Eradicating Child Marriage and Protecting Children Already in Marriages and submitted that it was a framework for action which linked implementation to other efforts under the UNFPA and UNICEF global programme on child marriage. The SADC PF with the support of the UNFPA, through the UNFPA-UNICEF Global Programme, Girls Not Brides network and Plan International, developed the framework through an extensive consultative process with MPs, civil society organisations, and other collaborating partners of the region. The model law sought to, inter alia:-
- empower adolescent girls at risk of and affected by marriage
- work with families and communities to promote positive behaviours towards girls and their rights
- ensure that health, education, protection and other systems were responsive to the needs and demand of girls
- support governments in creating a positive legal and policy environment in relation to child marriage
- use and build the data and evidence on what works to end child marriage and harmful practices
The Committee heard that the objective of the model law was to serve as a yardstick and an advocacy tool for legislators in the SADC region to provide best practice language which could be easily adopted or adapted by member states in their laws with regard to eradicating child marriage. The model law sought to assist policy makers, when developing policies and strategies, legislative drafters, when drafting national laws, lawmakers, when enacting laws, judicial officers when interpreting the laws on and related to child marriage, researchers, when carrying out research, and administrators, when applying and implementing the laws. This would address all the relevant areas in need of legislative reform without usurping the authority of national legislatures to determine the content, extent, style and form of their national laws.
The presenter informed the Committee that the model law enshrined standards from different international human rights instruments and gave SADC member states a legal document on which they could adapt for incorporation in domestic legislation. She stated that while the focus of the SADC Model Law was on child marriage, it also contained provisions for the elimination of harmful, social and cultural practices affecting the welfare, dignity and development of the child, especially those practices which were prejudicial to the health or life of the child and practices which were discriminatory.
The Committee heard that Part III contained the fundamental provisions of the model law which were the prohibition of child marriage, betrothal of a child, and third party involvements to a child marriage such as solemnising, aiding or abetting. The contravention of these provisions constituted an offence and if the offender was a person on whom the child depended, such as a parental relationship, it would be considered as an aggravating circumstance. Further, a marriage contracted before the coming into operation of the law was voidable at the option of either party, and that the property acquired during marriage between partners of a child marriage after the latter is declared void would be equally distributed unless it was inherited.
It was submitted that while part IV of the model law covered measures and interventions to prevent child marriages, part V provided for these measures. In this regard, an obligation was placed on the competent minister to put in place such measures and interventions, in consultation with the appropriate authorities. The expenditure to carry out such measures should come from an anti-child marriage fund directly appropriated by government. Other provisions included a restraining order to be made by the court, on application of a child marriage prohibition officer, appropriate authority or person having personal knowledge of circumstances. There was also an obligation on governments to establish multi-sectoral programmes and incentives to assist delay marriage, set up public safety homes and other public facilities for the residence, care and maintenance of victims of child marriage, strengthening community networks, including traditional leaders and religious authorities and the training of officials to prevent and enforce child marriage law.
Other parts provided for data collection, monitoring, evaluation and public awareness to be conducted by the ministry, and offences and enforcement. It provided, inter alia, for state reports to be sent to the forum on measures taken by the state towards eradicating child marriage and the protection of children already in marriage. Provision is also made for child marriage prohibition officers and the setting up of the anti-child marriage Fund.
In conclusion, the Committee was informed that the SADC Model Law was not an end in itself but a beginning for national Parliaments, CSOs, youth and other intended users of the law for policy and programme design. Continuous efforts were needed to guide advocacy for sustained ownership, capacity building and technical assistance to member states for the implementation of the model law as well as its coordination, financing and strengthening mechanisms for accountability for results.
PRESENTATION ON THE UPCOMING REGIONAL ASSESSMENT ON THE IMPACT OF COVID 19 ON MEASURES TO END CHILD MARRIAGE – MR LAZARUS MWALE, REGIONAL PROGRAMME MANAGER (ENDING CHILD MARRIAGE 18+ CENTRE OF EXCELLENCE ON ENDING CHILD MARRIAGE IN MIDDLE EAST, EASTERN AND SOUTHERN AFRICA
The Committee was informed that the purpose of the regional rapid assessment on the impact of COVID 19 on measures to end child marriage would be carried out between November and December and would be used to generate evidence to inform the development and alignment of programme and advocacy strategies. Further, the assessment was intended to outline strategies for utilisation of the SADC Model law on Eradicating Child Marriage and Protecting Children Already in Marriages during COVID 19 and in the pandemic recovery period. The assessment would seek responses to the following:
- Situation of child marriage and teenage pregnancy in eastern and southern Africa during COVID 19
- State of implementation of the SADC Model Law on Eradicating Child Marriage and Protecting Children Already in Marriages, AU Common Position on ending child marriage in the target countries
- Measures in place to curb rising or expected spike in teenage pregnancies and child marriage during COVID 19 and to what extent were these implemented
- Strategies to be employed to reduce the vulnerability of children to child marriage and enhance agency and protection of girls already in marriage, especially during and after COVID 19 pandemic
- How the SADC Model Law on Eradicating Child Marriage and Protecting Children Already in Marriages could be utilised by SADC member states in addressing the impact of COVID 19 on ending child marriage
The meeting heard that the approach would be both qualitative and quantitative and would include desk review, primary data collection through key informants derived from the target population (girls, young women, and boys) United Nations agencies, community leaders, Members of Parliament, government departments, civil society organisations, traditional and community leaders. The presenter submitted that a representative sample of six countries would be drawn to ensure a balanced representation of the Eastern and Southern Africa region
The meeting further heard that the findings of the assessment would used as programmatic recommendations for stakeholders, including young advocates, working to end child marriage in the region, used by the SADC-PF on implementation of the Model law during COVID-19 as well as member states and national parliaments.
Deliberations and Recommendations
In its deliberations on the presentations, the Committee made the following resolutions and recommendations:
- URGED national Parliaments to strongly support the SADC Model Law on Ending Child Marriage and Protecting Children Already in Marriages as an already existing framework and reposition it and its indicators within the COVID 19 context by ensuring that programmes, interventions and policy work started from the premise that the pandemic was here and it could be here for a number of years.
- RECOMMENDED a strong collaboration with traditional institutions because when laws to do with child marriage or monitoring the age of consent, education or realignment or sentencing are being passed, the main issue was usually tradition.
- URGED national governments to ensure that by-laws being put in place by many countries in the SADC region align with the SADC Model Law Ending Child Marriage and Protecting Children Already in Marriages and the Africa Common Position on Ending Child Marriage.
- CALLED upon national governments to ensure that mainstream justice systems had in place effective monitoring and enforcement mechanisms to prevent or sanction child marriages. The justice system should criminalise the practice of child marriage as rape or sexual abuse and accord it a befitting sentence.
- APPEALED to national governments to ensure that sufficient social welfare services are resourced. Serious discrepancies between regions in accessing mechanisms of redress, such as the existence of legal aid, children’s advocates or a children’s court, also meant that children did not have equal access to the help that they need within each country’s justice system.
- ENCOURAGED national Parliaments to ensure that education spending is safeguarded through freeing up resources by relieving, postponing and restricting debt for low and middle income countries.
- FURTHER ENCOURAGED national governments to ensure comprehensive measures in psychological support, education, and economic and sexual and reproductive health services.
- URGED national governments to consider responses during the acute and recovery phase, including advocacy for girls’ return to school after pregnancy and their accessibility to sexual and reproductive health rights (SRHR) information and services.
- ENCOURAGED national governments to close the finance gap by exploring new sources of support for education systems, ranging from debt restricting that protects human capital investment to blended finance.
- RECOMMENDED a comprehensive post COVID 19 plan for re-opening schools. There was need for a multi-sectoral approach, particularly in health and education to develop and communicate well-defined timelines to re-open schools with clear benchmarks and standard.
- FURTHER RECOMMENDED building public awareness on child marriage prevalence, drivers and consequences, and call for greater government leadership and investment in its prevention and mitigation.
- URGED national governments to adapt innovative ways of ensuring protection for girls through platforms such as social media, radio, help lines and girls’ clubs to raise the voices and protect girls who were at increased risk.
- URGED national Parliaments to ensure that their mandate of ensuring rigorous legal and policy frameworks related to child marriages was comprehensive and accompanied by proper training of the Judiciary, police and child protection officials and other stakeholders that are responsible for the implementation and enforcement. .
- STRONGLY URGED national governments to ensure continuous capacity building of parliamentarians, civil society organisations, youth and other intended users of the Model Law.
- EMPHASISED the need for gender-sensitive approaches in the education response to COVID 19.
- REITERATED the continuous capacity building, of parliamentarians, civil society organisations, youth and other intended users of the SADC Model Law
VOTE OF THANKS BY THE COMMITTEE CHAIRPERSON
The Chairperson of the Committee, Hon. Peete Peete Ramoquai, concluded the meeting by thanking all the Members, resource persons and attendees who contributed to the deliberations. He also expressed his profound gratitude to the Secretary-General of the SADC Parliamentary Forum and her good office for implementing this virtual meeting of the Committee, and reiterated that eradicating child marriage would require long term, sustainable action across many different sectors since the causes of the practice are multifaceted.
There being no further business to transact, the meeting was adjourned at 15:36 hours
Closing Remarks By The Vice-Chairperson of the SADC PF Standing Committee On Food Agriculture And Natural Resources, Hon. Marapeleng Malefane
VIRTUAL MEETING OF THE STANDING COMMITTEE HELD UNDER THE THEME ‘‘HARNESSING DOMESTIC TOURISM IN TIMES OF PANDEMICS, A CASE OF THE COVID 19 PANDEMIC. THE ROLE OF PARLIAMENTS’
Let me begin by thanking Honourable Members for your active participation. To the Secretary General of the SADC Parliamentary Forum, I commend you for convening this meeting. May I also take this opportunity to extend my profound gratitude to our Resource Persons for taking time out of your busy schedules to be with us and share this invaluable information.
Hon Members we have learnt from the presentations that the recovery of the tourism sector in the SADC region is going to take long because of other equally important COVID induced challenges that Governments have to deal with. Of utmost importance is for us to realise that this recovery will not happen without effort. It is crucial that we devise new strategies and initiatives to support domestic tourism and reignite tourism in its entirety. Among other things, there is need for more investments to be made in the tourism sector. Our duty, therefore, is to ensure that we utilise this information that we have received today to lobby our respective countries for more funding towards the tourism sector.
Let me reiterate the fact this engagement has been very insightful and the information shared will definitely assist Honourable Members in respective countries to make legislative recommendations that can contribute to build sustainable tourism sectors.
Lastly, thank you all for your participation.
I thank you.