The East African Community (EAC), in cooperation with the German development cooperation programme ‘Support to the East African Community, implemented by GIZ, set out to bring International Women’s Day to Arusha. With this year’s theme being “Women in the Changing World of Work: Planet 50-50 by 2030”, the events of 8th March 2017 sought to encourage working women to be bold for change in order to reach the gender parity by 2030 and take their place in East Africa’s development agenda.
The day’s events started with a march from the EAC Headquarters to Arusha’s Central Market. The fanfare was led by the Tanzanian Military Academy marching band and snowballed participation as it progressed through the city centre, reaching critical mass by the time the procession arrived at the market.
Upon arriving at the market, Hon. Jesca Eriyo, Deputy Secretary General for Finance and Administration, Mary Makoffu, Director of Social Sectors, Generose Minani, Principle Gender and Community Development Officer, and the enthusiastic crowd rolled up their sleeves and cleaned the main market of Arusha. Hon. Jesca Eriyo explained in her speech that the reason was to pay tribute to the all the hard working women across the EAC and to encourage a clean and decent working environment for women.
Back at the EAC headquarters, Hon. Jessica Eriyo gave another speech calling on women to stand up for their rights. This was followed by a speech by Dr. Kirsten Focken, Deputy Programme Manager of GIZ’s Support to the EAC Integration Process. She emphasised the commitment of GIZ in helping the EAC achieve its goal of 50-50 gender parity in the workplace by 2030 and the socioeconomic empowerment of women in regional integration. The motivational presenter, Ms Marren Akatsa-Bukachi, gave a rousing speech that called on the EAC to actualize its promises on gender equality enshrined in the Treaty for the Establishment of the East African Community.
Presentations from the partners of the Incubator for Innovation and Development in East Africa (IIDEA) were made. Danceteam Africa’s young artists gave moving performances, while CDEA, EASSI, PWC, Vision for Youth and COCAFEM GL spoke about their innovative projects that are enabling women SME’s and cross-border traders to utilise the EAC Common Market Protocol.
The peak of the celebration was marked by the launching of the simplified information package for East African women cross-border traders. The purpose of this sensitisation campaign by the EAC, GIZ, ILO, AU Border Program and Irish Aid is to help them understand their economic rights in the EAC.
Although the legal and policy frameworks of the EAC and its Partner States show a strong commitment to empowering women, there is still a lot to be done. With GIZ’s strategic support to top-down EAC policymaking and bottom-up action through initiatives such as IIDEA, we are helping the region move closer to 50-50 by 2030.