Mauritius: The fifth High-Level EU-Mauritius Policy Dialogue on Gender, aiming to take stock of the social, economic and political measures taken by technical groups in achieving gender equality while addressing barriers and challenges amid the COVID-19 pandemic, was held this morning at the Sir Harilal Vaghjee Memorial Hall, in Port-Louis.
The Minister of Gender Equality and Family Welfare, Mrs Kalpana Devi Koonjoo-Shah, and the Ambassador of the European Union in Mauritius, Mr Vincent Degert, co-chaired the High-Level Policy Dialogue. Representatives from different Ministries and the EU Delegation participated.
In her address, Minister Koonjoo-Shah stated that through this dialogue, the EU and her Ministry have agreed on key objectives and actions to be monitored jointly for the promotion of gender equality, addressing the scourge of gender-based violence, promoting women’s economic empowerment; and protecting children.
The Minister recalled that during the last High Policy Dialogue in November 2021, her Ministry and the EU signed a Joint Monitoring Framework Agreement for the implementation of the EU-Mauritius Gender Action Plan III for the period 2021-2025.
The Minister moreover dwelt on legislative measures introduced in January 2022 to better cater to children’s rights and protection. They include: the Children’s Act 2020; the Child Sex Offender Register Act 2020, and the Children’s Court Act 2020. She also elaborated on three important forthcoming legislations, namely, the Gender Equality Bill and Adoption Bill; and the Protection from Domestic Violence Amendment Bill.
In terms of policy measures to address Gender-Based Violence, she indicated that the National Gender Policy for the period 2022-2030 was launched by the Prime Minister on International Women’s Day 2022.
Speaking about victims of Gender-Based Violence, she pointed out that an integrated shelter for victims of gender-based violence on an emergency-medium term basis will be constructed in Rivière du Poste, as announced in Budget Speech 2022-2023.
As regards women’s economic empowerment, she indicated that the National Women Entrepreneur Council (NWEC) promotes the economic empowerment of women and encourages the development and growth of women entrepreneurs. The role of the NWEC will be reviewed to assist potential and existing women entrepreneurs in Mauritius, she pointed out.
The Minister reassured that the implementation of the National Strategy and Action Plan of the High-Level Committee on the Elimination of Gender-Based Violence, which was set up in January 2020, is well on track. As of date, 77 out of the 156 output indicators have been completed, and 75 are in progress, she said.
Minister Koonjoo-Shah, furthermore, enumerated several reinforced measures to allow victims of gender-based violence to have equal access to justice and support. These are: immediate intervention and assistance on a 24/7 basis; hotline 139: a protocol for health services, police, and shelters to ensure targeted support to all victims; and a mobile app called “Lespwar” enabling a victim to rapidly connect with the main police command and control centre.
She, moreover, indicated that a National Strategy and Cost Action Plan is presently being developed that will inform the Government and, in particular, her Ministry on short, medium and longer-term strategies on the legislative, institutional, and policy measures that are responsive to women’s strategic needs and aspirations.
For his part, Ambassador Degert stressed that the High-Level Policy Dialogue bears testimony to the joint efforts to place gender equality at the top of the agenda of both the EU and Mauritius. “Our action to accelerate the trend in promoting gender equality and women and girl’s empowerment to benefit societies and economies is guided by the EU Gender Action Plan (GAP III) 2021-2025″, he said.
Research, he underlined, shows that gender equality benefits societies and economies in equal measure. Hence, the need for countries to strive towards addressing gender disparities.
The recommendations of the dialogue will help the Government of Mauritius to integrate gender issues into development programmes and projects as well as to address key gender equality issues, barriers and challenges, he underscored.