GIS - October 16, 2012: A one-day seminar on the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development opened this morning at the Gold Crest Hotel, Quatre Bornes, in the presence of the Minister of Gender Equality, Child Development and Family Welfare, Mrs Mireille Martin. The objective of the seminar is to build the capacity of stakeholders, in particular government senior officials, on international and regional human rights instruments that call for gender equality.
The event is part of activities organised by the Ministry of Gender Equality, Child Development and Family Welfare in collaboration with Gender Links. It follows the seminar held last month to raise awareness on the pertinence of implementing CEDAW- the Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination Against Women.
The SADC Protocol on Gender and Development is a legally binding instrument that compels SADC Member States to expedite efforts towards reaching the set targets of the Protocol in several key areas of interventions. These areas include Constitutional and Legal Rights; Governance and Democracy; Education and Training; Economic Empowerment; Gender-Based Violence; HIV/AIDS; Peace Building and Media, Information and Communication. Some 70 representatives of various ministries engaged in the promotion of gender equality have the opportunity to take cognizance of the Protocol as well as its rationale and implications entailed for realising set targets and objectives.
In her speech for the occasion, the Minister of Gender Equality, Child Development and Family Welfare, Mrs Mireille Martin, stated that though Mauritius is not signatory to the Protocol, the Government of Mauritius has reiterated in various SADC Meetings its political will and commitment to work towards the empowerment of women and achieve gender equality through the implementation of policies, programmes and projects. She recalled that at the 32nd Summit of the Heads of States of SADC, held last August 2012 in Maputo, the Government of Mauritius reaffirmed strongly its willingness to empower women socially, economically and politically in order to attain gender equality. ‘We have, therefore, the responsibility to initiate actions at both policy and programmatic levels to attain the set objectives of the Protocol’ she added.
According to Mrs Martin, Mauritius has made significant progress with regard to the representation of women in the public sector and Government is creating a conducive environment for women to aspire to higher posts. She said that statistics available from the Master and Registrar’s Office show over 50% women representation at Magistrate level and 40% for Judges while in public sector at top management level, three out of six Senior Chief Executives are women, Women Permanent Secretaries stand at 34.5% and Principal Assistant Secretaries at 40%.
The Minister added that however, there are challenges that need to be addressed, in particular regarding parity in the participation of women in politics and that government is moving in that direction. Currently, women representation is at 18.8% at Parliamentary level, 12.7% in municipalities and 5.8% in village councils. Mrs Martin affirmed that her Ministry is fully involved in building the capacity of women to enter the political arena by organising regular tailor-made training programmes on leadership, communication and self- assertiveness and by sustaining capacity-building programmes for aspiring women candidates for forthcoming elections.