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Gender experts from COMESA Member States met in Zambia, 18-20 May 2016 to review draft policy documents that have been developed by the Secretariat to address the priorities on gender equality, women empowerment and social development.

The draft documents under review included the revised COMESA Gender Policy, and its implementation strategic plan, the regional Framework for Gender Inclusion in the Comprehensive African Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP), the HIV and AIDS Regional Policy, the COMESA Health Framework and the Gender Communication Strategy.

During three day programme, the experts analysed and finalized the policy documents which will thereafter be presented to the COMESA Ministers responsible for gender affairs for their consideration and possible adoption in August this year.

The decision to have gender experts from member states to review the draft policies was made by the Ministers in their last meeting in February 2015. The intention was to ensure ownership and active participation by member states in the gender policy review process.

Mrs. Beatrice Hamusonde, the Director of Gender and Social and Social Affairs at the COMESA Secretariat told the experts that the review will also take into account the continental and global frameworks guiding sustainable development. These are the African Agenda 2063 and the Sustainable Development Goals.

“These policy documents will not only contribute to the attainment of the global and continental agenda but also the commitments on health, sexual and reproductive health, HIV/AIDs, Malaria and Tuberculosis,” she said.

Fourteen member states were represented in the meeting. They include Burundi, Comoros, D R Congo, Djibouti, Egypt, Ethiopia, Madagascar, Malawi, Kenya, Seychelles, Swaziland, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.