Gender Minister and EU Ambassador to Mauritius Co-Chair High-Level Policy Dialogue On Gend

The fourth Mauritius-European Union (EU) High-Level Policy Dialogue on gender, focusing on the theme ‘ensam nou avancer pour fer egalite vine ene realite’, was held this morning at the Caudan Arts Centre, in Port-Louis. The initiative is a joint collaboration of the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family Welfare and the EU.

The Minister of Gender Equality and Family Welfare, Mrs Kalpana Devi Koonjoo-Shah, and the Ambassador of the EU to Mauritius, Mr Vincent Degert co-chaired the High-Level Policy Dialogue. Representatives from Ministries and from the EU Delegation participated. The Ambassador of the Republic of France to Mauritius, Mrs Florence Caussé-Tissier was also present.

On the occasion, the Gender Minister and the EU Ambassador signed the Joint Monitoring Framework 2021-2025.

In her address, Minister Koonjoo-Shah expressed gratitude to the EU for the assistance provided to her Ministry and stressed that the EU has always been a key partner in addressing gender inequalities and mainstreaming gender in all spheres of life.

She informed that the EU has provided this year, technical assistance through the Technical Assistance and Information Exchange facility for three main projects. These are the setting up of the victim support services and Guardian Ad Litem; the setting up of the children’s court; and the amendments to the Protection from Domestic Violence Act.

The Minister underlined that a National Gender Policy 2021-2030 has been finalised and that it underpins Government’s commitment to integrating gender into all development planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation policies.

As regards the economic consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic on women, the Gender Minister highlighted that Government has made provision in its budget 2020-2021 for a sum of Rs 200 million as loans to women entrepreneurs at a concessional rate of 0.5% per annum to stimulate economic empowerment and entrepreneurship of women. With regards to financial support to women entrepreneurs, a total sum of Rs 69 million has been disbursed by the Development Bank of Mauritius from January 2020 to May 2021, as loan facilities to women entrepreneurs, she indicated.

Mrs Koonjoo-Shah further stated that in order to address gender-based violence, the High-Level Committee for the elimination of gender-based violence launched a National Strategy and Action plan in November 2020. This High-Level Committee chaired by the Prime Minister monitors and evaluates the progress made on the implementation of the strategic plan on a quarterly basis, she said.

She indicated that to date, 69.8% of the output indicators are in progress and 28.9% have been completed out of the total target of 149 output indicators.

She emphasised that she has the welfare of each family at heart and consequently in December 2020 brought to the National Assembly three challenging legislations in favour of children, namely: Children’s Act, Children’s Court Act and Child Sex Offender Register Act. These she said, will provide a more appropriate, comprehensive and modern legislative framework to better protect children while giving effect to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child.

The Minister stressed that the public and private authorities and above all civil society should work together with the Government to work for a better society by revitalising communities’ needs.

As for the EU Ambassador, he said that the High-Level Policy Dialogue initiative bears testimony of joint efforts of Mauritius-EU to place gender equality and women on top of our agenda. He observed that the Covid-19 has had socioeconomic consequences that are disproportionately affecting women, such as the increase in sexual and gender-based violence, discrimination, and sharp decline in employment, that undermine the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

He indicated that as a strong response to this situation, the EU has commissioned a new action plan on gender equality; the Third Gender Action Plan for 2021 2025. The new gender plan, he added, focuses on key thematic areas, includes fighting Gender based violence, promotes social and economical empowerment of women and girls, and places renewed emphasis on universal access to healthcare and sexual reproductive health and rights.

If we want to achieve the progress of women and girls through empowerment, we need to have the tools to measure the progress made, emphasised the EU Ambassador.

Mr Degert stressed that the signing of the Joint Monitoring Framework 2021-2025 with a set of objectives and indicators to track progress on the achievement of SDG 5, is considered as a unique and innovative approach on the implementation of the EU Gender Action Plan . He announced that the efforts of the EU delegation in Mauritius have been recognised as an example by the EU headquarters in Brussels.

In addition, he reaffirmed the EU’s commitment to work together with its Member States to build a truly gender equal world. We will continue to collaborate with the Government of Mauritius to achieve real and tangible and long-lasting progress for gender equality, he said.

Source: Government of Mauritius (Port Louis)

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