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SADC groups urge women to claim their rights

WOMEN rights organisations from the Southern African Development Community have called upon women in the region to assert themselves and claim their rights by fully participating in the various social protection mechanisms provided by both the public and the private sectors, as a means of empowerment.

According to a study report themed ‘Transforming Social Protection for Women’s Empowerment’ released on Wednesday on the sidelines of the ongoing 63rd Commission on the Status of Women Conference in New York, the women’s organisations called on governments to enforce, review and update laws and policies to ensure women’s equal representation and participation in leadership in social protection governance structures.

This year’s CSW priority theme is “social protection systems, access to public services and sustainable infrastructure for gender equality and empowerment of women and girls”.

“While the informal sector is a key component of each country’s economy, it comprises mostly workers who are self-employed or who work for those who are self-employed. Given the nature of poverty in Southern Africa, the informal sector is dominated by women,” reads in part a report issued by the Non-governmental Gender Organisations Coordinating Council (Zambia), the Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe, the Women’s Legal and Resource Centre (Malawi), Lifeline/Childline (Namibia) and Botswana Council of Non-governmental Organisations.

The regional women’s organisations urged governments to harmonise and put in place policy measures that would enhance women’s access to social security mechanism.

“Civil society, trade unions and development partners should invest and ensure women’s equal participation and inclusion in all social protection intervention design and implementation,” reads the report.

Further, the organisations have urged the private sector to ensure that their business models are risk averse towards women and their corporate social responsibility resources are channeled to address social protection risks that women are exposed to.

The women’s organisations have urged the media as a key player to ensure that they undertake public awareness on women centered social protection mechanisms and visibility of women leaders working in social protection systems

“Women should take up leadership opportunities, assert, claim, enjoy and defend their rights and fully participate in social protection governance structures at all levels,” reads the report.

The regional study was supported by CUTS International through OSISA and HIVOS.

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