Sweden and SADC PF Cooperate to advance sexual reproductive health and rights for all Mr Håkan Juholt, Ambassador and Head of the Mission of Sweden in Pretoria and Ms Boemo Mmandu Sekgoma, Secretary General of the SADC PF shake hands following the signing of a collaboration agreement to fund the promotion of SRHR and HIV/AIDS-related services in SADC recently while other dignitaries look on. Photo: Contributed

Herald Correspondent

Sweden and the Southern African Development Community Parliamentary Forum (SADC PF) recently signed a collaboration agreement worth around USD 4 970 000 to fund the promotion of sexual reproductive health and rights (SRHR) and HIV/AIDS-related services in the SADC region.

The new three-year cooperation agreement “SRHR, HIV/AIDS & Governance Project” (2023-2026) builds on previous collaborations between Sweden, SADC PF, and affiliated national parliaments in the region. The new phase ensures that results achieved in prior agreements will be nurtured and further developed to heighten universal access to SRHR services.

Sweden has financed SADC PF through Sida since the first phase of the project began in 2014. In previous agreements, SADC PF has drafted Model Laws, Minimum Standards, and additional Normative Guidelines to assist SADC member states in streamlining SRHR services and inspire governments to provide more funding for SRHR.

The Model Law on gender-based violence (GBV) has led to Members of Parliament (MPs) in several countries, including Lesotho, Malawi, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Angola, to table motions and pose oversight questions to address gender equality, domestic violence and SRHR.

Ms Boemo Mmandu Sekgoma, Secretary General of the SADC Parliamentary Forum, comments:

“The agreement with Sweden provides new opportunities to promote access to SRHR for all people in the SADC region through legislation, additional funding to SRHR, and that voters will have an influence on the SRHR agenda through their elected representatives.”

SADC PF plays an important role in the work to promote SRHR in the SADC region, where countries can take inspiration from the valuable Model Laws that are developed, but also for individual countries to build on the experiences of other countries. By monitoring and advocating for SRHR budgets that are sustainable and responsive to citizens’ needs, MPs will be able to promote parliamentary interventions that are inclusive, accountable, and democratic.

Mr Håkan Juholt, Ambassador and Head of the Mission of Sweden in Pretoria, comments:

“To support the upholding and respect for human rights, support for projects that respect, promote and realize SRHR is of fundamental importance. Sweden’s future cooperation with SADC PF will enhance the role of SRHR in the region and beyond, to leverage democratic frameworks that are able to hold governments accountable for SRHR and HIV/AIDS governance.”

Previous collaborations between Sweden and SADC PF have laid the foundation for a continued new project. In this vein, the SRHR Project (2023-2026) will act as an enabler for Parliaments to play their part in implementing the Sustainable Development Agenda 2030, especially SDG 3 relating to health and well-being and SDG 5 on gender equality.

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