Khartoum, Monday, February 26, 2018: Over 40 gender experts from 15 COMESA Member States began their annual meeting in Sudan yesterday to review the gender policy implementation plan and other policy documents and reports. The reports will be presented to the gender ministers later this week for adoption.
This is the 12th meeting of the COMESA Technical Committee on Gender and Social Affairs. It brought together Principal Secretaries and Technical Officers from gender ministries in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Libya, Malawi, Mauritius, Rwanda, Seychelles, Sudan, Swaziland, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
On the agenda of the three days meeting are: The Draft Gender Policy Implementation Plan and Monitoring Tracking Matrix, the Framework for Comprehensive Support for Women and Youth, Cross Border Traders and the Draft COMESA Youth Internship and Volunteer Programme. A progress report on the implementation of the 50 Million Africa Women Speak Platform Project was also presented.
The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Social Development and Security in Sudan, Dr. Mohammed Khair opened the meeting. He underscored the significance of strengthening gender management and accountability mechanism at various levels to ensure the success of domestication of legal instruments such as the COMESA Social Charter.
“We all know the challenges bedeviling Member States as they make frantic efforts to address gender and social development issues," he said. "This is exacerbated by lack of gender management and accountability. However, Secretariat needs to step up efforts in supporting Member States.”
He commended COMESA for spearheading programmes targeting the youth given that Africa has the largest concentration of young people compared to other continents.
According to the 2015 United Nations statistics, there are 1.2 billion youth aged 15-24 globally, accounting for one out of every six people (17%) worldwide. This is predicted to increase to one out of every four people, thus there would be 1.3 billion youth by 2030.
In his remarks COMESA Assistant Secretary General for Programmes Ambassador, Dr. Kipyego Cheluget, said the commitment and support of the member States will go a long way in achieving gender equality, the empowerment of women as well as the integration of social development into the COMESA regional integration agenda.
In his speech presented by the COMESA Director of Gender and Social Affairs, Mrs. Beatrice Hamusonde, Dr Cheluget observed that Intra COMESA Trade Africa had significantly impacted on the overall growth of regional integration in Africa.
According to UNCTAD reports, 80 percent of intra-Africa trade happens with the regional economic Communities. In 2015, out of the total COMESA's exports to the world, 22 percent went to Africa.
“However,” Dr Cheluget noted, “Challenges still exist for the regional integration programmes to be gender responsive in the planning, programming and in the monitoring processes.”