THE East African Community (EAC) Secretariat has launched Gender Policy that seeks to usher in an inclusive community, and guarantees equal rights and opportunities for all people in the public.
Launching it here at the EAC Headquarters, the EAC Gender Policy has been developed to provide guidance on how to institutionalise gender strategies in the EAC integration process, besides ensuring that the rights of women and men, boys and girls are promoted, protected and realised on all equal basis.
It further aims at strengthening and mainstreaming 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, Christophe Bazivamo, the Director of Social Sectors at the EAC Secretariat, Ms Mary Makoffu, said that the policy was developed out of the recognition that there are 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 are still poor representation of women in the employment sector, and more so in political representation," said Director Makoffu.
She pointed to the participants 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 added, hinting that Gender Equality was a key principle of the EAC integration process.
Ms Makoffu further 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.
Oh his part, Mr Abdikadir Aden, Chairperson of the General Purpose Committee at the East African Legislative Assembly (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.
Mr Aden said 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 organised to provide relevant knowledge, skills and values that would allow participants to contribute effectively in the implementation of the EAC Gender policy, in all efforts at mainstreaming Gender in their respective organisations and in the Partner States," said the legislator.
However, he congratulated the EAC Secretariat for the great stride in launching the policy and called for all the EAC Organs and Institutions to practice, encourage and advocate for Gender Equality.
Equally, Dr Kirsten Focken, the GIZ Programme Manager, recognised the importance of the EAC Gender Policy as an instrument, saying that it would bridge the gender income inequality gap that has existed in over the past two decades within the EAC region.