The Director of Gender at the Secretariat, Mrs Emiliana Tembo, has said gender equality and women empowerment are core development objectives; fundamental for the realization of human rights and are key to effective and sustainable development in the COMESA region.
Speaking during the official opening of the USAID funded workshop on Gender responsive budgeting and monitoring and evaluation held 05 July 2012 at the Protea Hotel in Livingstone, Zambia, Mrs Tembo said no society can develop successfully without providing equitable opportunities, resources, and life prospects for males and females so that they can shape their own lives and contribute to their families and communities.
She added that a critical analysis of the socio-economic reality of the region shows that gender gaps exist in terms of poverty, disease, education, employment and governance.
“Many problems also exist with regard to the efforts to integrate women into trade, industry, agriculture, information and communications, science and technology and peace and security interventions. In order to address gender gaps in these development areas, gender mainstreaming has been internationally recognized as being the appropriate tool. Mainstreaming a gender perspective is the process of assessing the implications for women and men of any planned action, including legislation, policies or programmes, in all areas and at all levels,” she said.
She revealed that as a result of the realisation that women make significant contribution towards the process of socio-economic transformation and sustainable growth and that it is impossible to implement effective programmes for rural transformation without creating a policy and institutional environment that is conducive to the full participation of both women and men COMESA since developed a policy to contribute towards global initiatives and focus on gender mainstreaming.
“USAID recognises the importance of gender mainstreaming and we applaud them for the support,” she said.
Mrs Tembo further said that building the capacities of professionals in the areas of gender responsive budgeting and monitoring and evaluation is one way in which the Secretariat will realise its strategic objective stipulated in priority area No. 1 of the gender mainstreaming strategy, which is “Strengthening the Gender Management Systems at National and Regional Levels”.
“It is my hope that the programme and project officers that have participated here will become active agents who will strengthen the Secretariat’s commitment to gender mainstreaming.”