On 18 September 2018, the East African Community Secretariat launched its Gender Policy. The Policy seeks an inclusive Community which guarantees equal rights and opportunities for women and men, boys and girls. The policy was approved by the Council of Ministers and will now be the guideline to follow in all gender-related matters at the EAC.
The EAC Gender Policy provides guidance on institutionalizing gender strategies in the EAC integration process in addition to ensuring that the rights of women and men, boys and girls are promoted, protected and realised on an equal basis.
The policy further aims at strengthening the mainstreaming of gender concerns in the planning and budgetary processes of all sectors in the EAC Organs, Institutions and Partner States.
Speaking at the opening session, on behalf of the EAC Deputy Secretary General in charge of Productive and Social Sectors, Hon Christophe Bazivamo, the Director of Social Sectors at the EAC Secretariat, Ms. Mary Makoffu, said that the Gender Policy was developed out of the recognition that there still disparities among men and women in various spheres of life.
“For example, despite various accomplishments by Partner States in educating the girl child, and possessing various skills by women and girls, there was poor representation of women in the employment sector and more so in political representation,” said Director Makoffu.
She said that under Article 6 (d) of the Treaty for the Establishment of the EAC, Partner States committed to adhere to the principles of democracy, the rule of law, accountability, transparency, social justice, equal opportunities, gender equality, as well as recognition, promotion and protection of human and people’s rights.
The East African parliament, EALA, passed the EAC Gender Equality and Equity Bill, in 2017.
The Bill, when fully assented to, will give an unprecedented boost to the observance and practice of gender equality in the region. Training courses to provide relevant knowledge, skills and values that will allow participants to contribute effectively in the implementation of the EAC Gender policy and all efforts at mainstreaming Gender in their respective organizations and in the Partner States will be organized.
Dr. Kirsten Focken, the GIZ Programme Manager, underscored the importance of the EAC Gender Policy as an instrument saying that it would bridge the gender income inequality gap that has existed for over two decades within the EAC region.
She called for joint research among stakeholders on laws and regulatory environments which facilitate or hinder gender equality and women’s economic participation, and develop specific activities or interventions to remove barriers in the region.