Gender Gender

Embark on gender-sensitive development regionalism, states urged

CHRISTINE CHISHA, Ezulwini, Swaziland
SOUTHERN African countries have been urged to embark on developmental regionalism that is both gender-sensitive and gender- responsive.
Independent consultant Annie Chikwanha said gender- responsiveness is an essential element of inclusive governance that is central to the achievements of the sustainable development goals (SDGs).
“Adopting a developmental regionalism approach in which existing regional institutions’ gender policies can be utilised to achieve development holds much promise for Africa,” she said.
Dr Chikwanha was speaking in Ezulwini, Swaziland, during the regional forum on Developmental Regionalism, Peace and Economic Transformation in Southern Africa.
The meeting is organised by United Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), the African Peace building Network of the Social Science Research Council and the SADC Secretariat.
She said incorporating gender into the current regional frameworks implies factoring in some gender-responsive policies into the growing development regionalism agenda to guarantee equitable development outcomes.
Dr Chikwanha said women in Africa contribute significantly to agriculture as subsistence farmers and their contribution is at 50 percent.
She said food security in the region relies heavily on women yet gender barriers to small-scale farming schemes for women in rural areas continue to be influenced by socio-cultural and administrative settings.
Dr Chikwanha said the constraints women face as equal drivers and actors in developmental regionalism are deeply rooted and can only be tackled first at national level through the implementation of incorporated gender issues in development policies.
She said”women’s organisations and civil society organisations can monitor the integration and development process by documenting how the different sectors successfully meet gender-equitable targets and if they are meeting the needs of women”.
Dr Chikwanha said different national strategies, which remain important for successful regional development, ought to be analysed to identify and eliminate gaps in economic opportunities and women’s contribution at regional level.
She said gender-inclusiveness, gender-responsiveness and women’s participation are all imperative for balanced regional development.

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