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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
96STATE112270 1996-05-31 18:15:00 UNCLASSIFIED Secretary of State
Cable title:  

STATUS OF WOMEN IN THE SADC REGION

Tags:   SOCI KWMN SADC 
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P 311815Z MAY 96
FM SECSTATE WASHDC
TO AMEMBASSY GABORONE PRIORITY 
AMEMBASSY LUSAKA 
AMEMBASSY LUANDA 
AMEMBASSY WINDHOEK 
AMEMBASSY PRETORIA 
AMEMBASSY DAR ES SALAAM 
AMEMBASSY LILONGWE 
AMEMBASSY MASERU 
AMEMBASSY MAPUTO 
AMEMBASSY HARARE 
AMEMBASSY PORT LOUIS 
AMEMBASSY MBABANE
					  UNCLAS STATE 112270 

FOR AMBASSADORS FROM PDAS BUSHNELL AND AF/S BLANEY

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: SOCI KWMN SADC
SUBJECT: STATUS OF WOMEN IN THE SADC REGION

REF: A) STATE 86067 B) WINDHOEK 1174 (NOTAL)
C) CAPE TOWN 363 (NOTAL) D) PORT LOUIS 740 (NOTAL)




1. THIS IS AN ACTION CABLE. SEE PARA 4.



2. DISMAL STATUS QUO: AS INDICATED REFTEL A, PARA 9,
DEPARTMENT REMAINS COMMITTED TO THE PRINCIPLES ARISING
FROM THE BEIJING CONFERENCE ON IMPROVING THE STATUS OF
WOMEN AND SEEKS YOUR ASSISTANCE IN POSSIBLE FOLLOW-ON
ACTIVITIES IN THE SADC REGION. THE STATUS OF WOMEN
THROUGHOUT THE SADC REGION, IN VARIOUS RESPECTS, CAN ONLY
BE DEEMED SECOND-CLASS. IN MANY COUNTRIES WOMEN SUFFER
DISCRIMINATION IN TERMS OF BOTH LAW AND PRACTICE. EVEN IN
STATES IN WHICH GENDER EQUALITY IS MANDATED BY THE
CONSTITUTION OR LEGISLATION, WOMEN STRUGGLE AGAINST THE
FORMIDABLE FORCES OF SOCIETAL CUSTOM AND TRADITION.
POSTS HUMAN RIGHTS REPORTS HAVE DETAILED MANY ONGOING
SUCH PROBLEMS, ESPECIALLY IN THE AREAS OF INHERITANCE,
PROPERTY OWNERSHIP, FINANCIAL/CONTRACTUAL RIGHTS, AND THE
ABILITY TO PASS CITIZENSHIP TO CHILDREN.



3. SIGNS OF PROGRESS: DESPITE THE GENERALLY DISMAL
PICTURE, WE HAVE SEEN SOME RECENT SIGNS OF PROGRESS. WE
NOTE WITH INTEREST REF B "NAMIBIA: PARLIAMENT PASSES
IMPORTANT GENDER LEGISLATION," AND REF C "SOUTH AFRICA:
COMMISSION ON GENDER EQUALITY APPROVED BY ASSEMBLY."
EMBASSY PORT LOUIS IS ASSISTING THE GOVERNMENT OF
MAURITIUS WITH BEIJING CONFERENCE FOLLOW-UP ACTIVITIES
(REF D). SEVERAL ADDRESSEE POSTS HAVE UTILIZED 116(E) AND
OTHER PROJECTS TO ASSIST NGOS WORKING TO IMPROVE THE
STATUS OF WOMEN TO GOOD EFFECT. AT THE BEIJING CONFERENCE
DELEGATIONS FROM THE SADC COUNTRIES PROVIDED SURPRISINGLY
STRONG AND DYNAMIC LEADERSHIP IN THIS AREA. WE HOPE TO
BUILD ON THIS SOLID FOUNDATION AND NOT ALLOW THE MOMENTUM
GENERATED AT BEIJING TO WANE.



4. ACTION REQUEST: WE WOULD APPRECIATE RESPONSES TO THE
FOLLOWING QUERIES REGARDING THE STATUS OF WOMEN IN HOST
COUNTRIES TO HELP US MORE FULLY GRASP THE CURRENT
SITUATION AND TO GAUGE WHAT WE MIGHT PRODUCTIVELY DO IN
THIS AREA.

-- IS THERE ANY CURRENT LEGISLATION THAT DISCRIMINATES
AGAINST WOMEN? IF SO, HOW?

-- WHAT IS THE LEGAL STATUS OF "CUSTOMARY LAW" REGARDING
WOMEN? IF "CUSTOMARY LAW" AND MODERN STATUTE VARY, HOW
ARE DIFFERENCES RESOLVED?

-- WHAT ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT AREAS OF DIVERGENCE, IF
ANY, BETWEEN LAW AND PRACTICE REGARDING THE LEGAL STATUS
OF WOMEN?

-- HAS THE HOST GOVERNMENT PUBLICLY COMMITTED TO IMPLEMENT
THE PLAN OF ACTION FROM THE BEIJING CONFERENCE?

-- IF SO, WHAT STEPS HAVE BEEN TAKEN? WOULD AN
INFORMATION-GATHERNING QUERY FROM YOUR EMBASSY SPUR ACTION?

-- IF NOT, WOULD IT HELP FOR YOU TO RAISE THE ISSUE WITH
HOST-GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS?

-- ARE THERE ANY ADDITIONAL WAYS YOUR POST COULD UTILIZE
116(E), SELF-HELP, D/G PROGRAMS, ETC TO SUPPORT PROGRESS
IN THIS AREA? WHAT HAVE YOU FOUND TO BE MOST EFFECTIVE?
HAVE YOU BEEN ABLE TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THESE PROGRAMS BY
PROMOTING THEM THROUGH PUBLIC DIPLOMACY, SUCH AS BY PUBLIC

ANNOUNCEMENTS OR CEREMONIES TO MARK PROGRAM FUND AWARDS?
-- FOR GABORONE: WHAT, IF ANYTHING, IS SADC DOING TO
FOLLOW-THROUGH ON THE BEIJING CONFERENCE? IS POST IN
CONTACT WITH SADC SECRETARIAT ON THIS ISSUE? WILL IT BE
ON THE AGENDA OF THE AUGUST SADC SUMMIT IN MASERU?

-- FOR GABORONE: TO WHAT EXTENT IS THE SOUTHERN AFRICA
REGIONAL DEMOCRATIZATION FUND PROMOTING THE STATUS OF
WOMEN IN THE AREA? (NOTE: COULD SARDF, FOR EXAMPLE, HELP
NETWORK NGO LEADERS IN NAMIBIA, WHO RECENTLY CARRIED THE
DAY IN THEIR LANDMARK LEGISLATIVE EFFORT, WITH
COUNTERPARTS ELSEWHERE IN THE REGION?)

-- WHAT COULD THE DEPARTMENT, ALONE OR IN CONJUNCTION WITH
YOUR POST (BEARING IN MIND OUR BUDGETARY SITUATION), DO TO
IMPROVE THE STATUS OF WOMEN IN THE SADC REGION?



S. WE LOOK FORWARD TO RECEIVING YOUR ASSESSMENTS AND
INSIGHTS ON THIS IMPORTANT ISSUE. REGARDS.


CHRISTOPHER