The East African Community (EAC) has launched a gender policy that seeks an inclusive community which guarantees equal rights and opportunities for women and men, boys and girls.
The EAC Gender Policy, which was launched at the EAC Headquarters, in Arusha, Tanzania was developed to provide 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 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, Christophe Bazivamo, the Director of Social Sectors at the EAC Secretariat, Mary Makoffu said that the Policy was developed due to the fact that there are still disparities among men and women in various spheres of life.
“For example, despite various accomplishments by the Partner States in educating the girl child, and women and girls possessing several skills, there is a poor representation of women in the employment sector and more so in political representation,” said Makoffu.
She informed the participants at the launch that there was still misleading data and contradictions between targeted programme interventions and those incorporating gender perspectives across different sectors.
“This lack of accountability delays progress in advancing gender equality and the empowerment of women, girls and other marginalised groups,’’ she said.
Makoffu said that Gender Equality was a key principle of the EAC integration process.
She said that under Article 6 (d) of the Treaty for the Establishment of the EAC, Partner States committed to adhering to the principles of democracy, rule of law, accountability, transparency, social justice, equal opportunities, gender equality, as well as recognition, promotion and protection of human and people’s rights.
At the Launch, Uganda was represented by female East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) Members of Parliament Mary Mugyenyi and Rose Akol Okullu, Sheila Kawamara Mishambi (former EALA MP) and the conference’s keynote speaker Prof. Mary Nabachwa.
On his part, Abdikadir Aden, Chairperson of the General Purpose Committee at EALA, informed the participants that in a bid to contribute to the quest for Gender Equality, EALA passed the EAC Gender Equality and Equity Bill, 2017 on Women’s Day of 2017 in Kigali, Rwanda.
He added that it was expected that the Bill when fully assented to, would give an unprecedented boost to the observance and practice of gender equality in the region.
“I am informed that the training that has been organized 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,” said the legislator.
He commended the EAC Secretariat for launching the policy and called for all the EAC Organs and Institutions to practice, encourage and advocate for gender equality.
BY SAMUEL NABWIISO