Stakeholders finalise national gender policy and action plan


24-January-2012

  
Mrs Melanie addressing delegates at the opening of the workshop

Work on the policy started last year after Seychelles signed the SADC Gender Protocol. 

The Gender Secretariat in the Ministry of Social Development and Culture is carrying out the process. It is receiving help from the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA), local gender consultant Mahrookh Pardiwalla and gender specialists from Gender Links, a South African gender organisation which is coordinating the work of the Southern African Gender Protocol Alliance.

A specialist from Gender Links was in Seychelles in November to help local stakeholders develop the policy.
Loveness Nyakujarah is back in the country together with the chief executive of Gender Links Colleen Lowe-Morna and also Makaya Mukayi, another gender specialist also from the same organisation.

They are holding a week-long training workshop to validate the policy and help with the drafting of the action plan.

The workshop was officially launched on Friday by the principal secretary for Social Development Linda William –Melanie.

It is being held at the International Conference Centre and has brought together all gender stakeholders from government and non-government agencies.

In her opening remarks when launching the working sessions, Mrs Melanie said “as a signatory party to the SADC Gender and Development Protocol, Seychelles has the obligation to endeavour to achieve the 50/50 target of women at decision-making levels by 2015”.

She noted that Seychelles has already made great strides in achieving gender parity, giving as example the increase from 23% to 45% in the level of women representation in the National Assembly following last year’s parliamentary election.
“We now have 15 women in the 33-seat National Assembly,” she said.

Mrs Melanie however stressed that it is important the country continues to move forward to achieve the full 50% target and ensure that this great stride does not become an anomaly in our history, but a trend towards further gains in good governance and gender equality.

“There is still a lot of work to be done to ensure that women are not only nominated or represented on different national boards but for women to prove that they too can contribute as much as their male counterparts,” added Mrs Melanie.

“The national gender policy and plan of action will act as a roadmap to guide and help us achieve that,” she said.
The week-long training is aimed at strengthening the understanding of stakeholders on key gender concepts bearing in mind Seychelles’ context, strengthen their skills and knowledge on gender planning, budgeting and mainstreaming when drafting various government and non-government programmes.  These will help in effectively carrying out the action plan in line with the country’s commitment to the SADC Gender Protocol. 

At the end of the training the different stakeholders are expected to be better equipped to identify and address gender inequalities.

Mrs Melanie called on all those taking part in the training sessions to better inform and empower themselves on gender concepts and issues to advise their colleagues and superiors on this important issue.

“Let us be the catalyst to bring about the change and ‘walk the talk’.  Let us not make empty promises but let each one of us show our commitment in our actions,” said Mrs Melanie.

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