“It is now more dangerous to be a woman than to be a soldier in modern conflict,” Patrick Commaert
The Southern African Development Community honored the role women play in the corrections and or prison space as prison or police officers. Speaking at the official launch of the SADC Corrections Women’s Network the SADC Organ on Politics Defence and Security Cooperation director Jorge Cardoso said his organizationprioritises peace and security as one of the critical tenets that can deliver regional integration, development and prosperity. “Corrections/ Prison Services as one of the sectors in the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Affairs ensures that those that break the laws of our countries are kept in custody and rehabilitated to avoid re-offending. It is therefore imperative that Corrections/Prisons should always operate at an optimum with relevant and diversified competencies. It is against this background that we are gathered here today to recognise Women in Prison Services as part of the diversity needed in Prisons/ Correctional Services.”
He continued and explained the role that women these officers play in the day to day operations in order to enhance the equality of women in their line of duty.
“Women Correctional Officers play a differentiated role in the Criminal Justice system and this must be acknowledged. As Prisons and Correctional Services in the region invest in reform processes that are geared towards rehabilitation and reintegration, we cannot overlook the value of women as natural nurturers and builders. This special quality needs to be harnessed and utilised fully. I hasten to highlight that focusing on women without including men can be counterproductive. In this regard, I can only implore the network to study and see how best men can be included in their activities and operations so that there can be exchange of complementary qualities.”
He explained that the United Nations an international organisation values the importance of women’s equal participation in order to eliminate discrimination in all its forms. “I wish to highlight that on a global scope, the UN Resolution 1325 acknowledges the importance of women’s equal participation and full involvement in all efforts, for the maintenance and promotion of peace and security. I also wish to highlight that SADC adopted the Protocol on Gender and Development in August 2008 in order to among others provide for the empowerment of women, eliminate discrimination and achieve gender equality through the development and implementation of gender responsive legislation, policies, programmes and projects. The adoption of the SADC Protocol on Gender also hoped to harmonise the implementation of various instruments on gender inequality and equity which SADC member states have subscribed to, at the regional, continental, and international levels”
In facilitation of the SADC Protocol on Gender and indeed the United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325, the Ministerial Committee of the Organ (MCO) of 2011 decided on the establishment of the Regional Women’s Network for Corrections/ Prison Services. The MCO advocated amongst other key milestones of ensuring gender parity, the recruitment, retention and advancement of female officers in Corrections and Prisons Services, with a minimum of 30% representation in recruitment and promotion at the various levels of management; and the training and deployment of Correctional Women Officers in peacekeeping. The Women’s Network, is therefore a platform for coordination and monitoring of these greater ideals.
In order to efficiently and professionally discharge its functions, the Women’s Network is guided by its adopted Terms of Reference that clearly outline the mandate of the network to include amongst other critical areas ; the coordination of the Women’s Network regional activities; identification of policy gaps in the advancement of female Corrections/Prisons Officers, proposal of Policy development in order to advance Corrections/Prisons female Officers; and to influence reforms and advocate for compliance to the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325; African Union Gender Policy and SADC Protocol on Gender and Development;
“I hasten to add that the network that is being launched today, is constituted to comprise representatives of the Corrections/Prisons Female Officers from the SADC Member States, and include any other relevant individuals whom the Women Network may deem fit and proper to be included, such as spouses of male serving officers. I am also pleased to announce that this launch today will be followed by the development of an Action Plan that will outline clear and concise activities to be carried out by the network to ensure lasting impact in the region,” he concluded.