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Gender-Based Violence (GBV) and Economic Empowerment of Girls and Women in East Africa

The East African Civil Society Organizations’ Forum (EACSOF) Kenya Chapter, Forum for African Women Educationalists (FAWE) and the Mentoring and Empowerment Programme for Young Women (MEMPROW) have as such partnered with the Gender and Community Development Department at the East African Community Secretariat to establish mechanisms that can mitigate the effects of COVID-19 and address the GBV challenge in the region. The objective of the initiative is to strengthen monitoring, reporting and accountability mechanisms of Regional and Sub-regional bodies on GBV as well as practices that promote the economic empowerment of women and girls through:

  • Establishing a Regional GBV Sector Working Group.
  • Holding bi-weekly virtual meetings with the Regional GBV Working Group on prevention and response to GBV during the COVID-19 Pandemic.
  • Developing a tool for the Working Group to fill in their GBV interventions during COVID-19 period.
  • Continuous Assessments on Continuous Assessments on GBV hotspots and economically hard-hit areas for women in business around the region and cross- border areas.
  • Partner with Stakeholders and Media to report GBV cases and to seek redress for the victims

This initiative takes cognizance of the commitments EAC Partner States have made in Article 6(d) of the Treaty for the Establishment of the East African Community 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. Pursuant to the above provision, the EAC has further developed the EAC Gender Policy that places the elimination of Gender-Based Violence in all settings as a core goal for all governments and stakeholders and the economic empowerment of women in the region as a major pathway to development.

Gender-Based Violence and COVID-19 in the EAC

The East African Community (EAC) Partner States have been actively enforcing measures to curb the COVID-19 Pandemic. Since the announcement of the first case of COVID-19 in East Africa Region, Partner States have instituted several measures both at individual and EAC regional level in an effort to control the spread of infections. Apart from social distancing and hygiene measures, Partner States have employed various measures which include fiscal and monetary measures to cushion the vulnerable groups, including cash transfer, food distribution, and tax relief, among others. Partner States also instituted lockdowns and curfews, which has led to economic hardships and mental stress in families that has increased insistences of violence at home.

EAC Partner States have reported a sharp increase in the number of Gender-Based Violence (GBV) cases. Ministries responsible for Gender across the region have reported near to a 48% increase in the Gender-Based Violence cases reported to the Police or through the GBV Toll-Free lines. The measures to respond to COVID-19 have further exacerbated risk factors for vulnerable populations such as women, young people and persons living with disabilities (PWDs) as they could be locked in homes with their abusers. GBV cases, including physical and emotional abuse, rape, sexual exploitation, Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and early marriages, are on the rise. The media has also reported that while all attention shifts to fighting COVID-19, there is an increase of cases of maternal mortality and limited lack of access to healthcare, due to limited means of transport to hospitals during curfew periods.

Available evidence further suggests that whereas the health measures are necessary, they perpetuate the discrimination of women and girls from economic activity and are not practical for many women workers. Measures of social distancing and staying at home are far beyond the reach and access of informal workers and traders. Many of the women informal workers, who are often the primary providers for their households, live and work in conditions that are characterized by over-crowding and limited to essential water and sanitation facilities. Social distancing and staying home are mostly possible for middle-class office workers covered by social security but less so for women in the informal sector. The informal workers, therefore, are less protected and fall between the cracks, excluded from formal work-related protections as well as from state social assistance programmes that target the very poor and those outside the labour market. The COVID-19 situation is, therefore, a ‘double-edged sword’ for most women; whether they stay at home or go to work, they still face the risk of COVID-19, poverty and Gender-Based Violence

The strains caused by the spread of the Coronavirus further places women in frontline caregiving roles that put them at higher risk for exposure to COVID-19. As health systems become stretched, many people with COVID-19 will need to be cared for at home, adding to women’s overall burden, as well as putting them at higher risk of becoming infected.

This trend of events ultimately provides an opportunity for urgent GBV and EE interventions to ensure Partner States comply with the International and Regional commitments to gender equality and the promotion of human rights. This will be achieved through targeted advocacy aimed at influencing National priorities and promoting the Partner States commitments towards strategic resourcing for women’s rights and gender equality during its COVID-19 interventions.

Gender-Based Violence

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What is Gender-Based Violence (GBV)

What is Gender-Based Violence (GBV)

The East African Community (EAC) Partner States have been actively enforcing measures to curb the COVID-19 Pandemic. Since the announcement of the first case of COVID-19 in East Africa Region, Partner States have instituted several measures both at individual and EAC regional level in an effort to control the spread of infections.

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GBV and COVID-19

GBV and COVID-19

EAC Partner States have reported a sharp increase in the number of Gender-Based Violence (GBV) cases. Ministries responsible for Gender across the region have reported near to a 48% increase in the Gender-Based Violence cases reported to the Police or through the GBV Toll-Free lines. The measures to respond to COVID-19 have further exacerbated risk factors for vulnerable populations as they could be locked in homes with their abusers.

Read more

Our Interventions

Our Interventions

The East African Civil Society Organizations’ Forum (EACSOF) Kenya Chapter, Forum for African Women Educationalists (FAWE) and the Mentoring and Empowerment Programme for Young Women (MEMPROW) have as such partnered with the Gender and Community Development Department at the East African Community Secretariat to establish mechanisms that can mitigate the effects of COVID-19 and address the GBV challenge in the region.

Read more

 

 

Forms of Gender-Based Violence

 

 

 

 


GBV Partners

Forms of Gender-Based Violence

Physical

Physical

Any act which causes physical harm as a result of unlawful physical force. Physical violence can take the form of, among others, serious and minor assault, deprivation of liberty and manslaughter.
Sexual

Sexual

Any sexual act perfomed on an individual without their consent. Sexual violence can take the form of rape or sexual assault.
Psychological

Psychological

Any act which causes psychological harm to an individual. Pyschological violence can take the form of, for example, coercion, defamation, verbal insult or harassment.
Economic

Economic

Any act or behaviour which causes economic harm to an individual. Economic violence can take the form of, for example, property damage, restricting access to financial resources, education or the labour market, or not complying with economic responsibilities, such as alimony.

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Objectives

The objective

of the 50MAWS platform is to contribute to the economic empowerment of women by providing a networking platform that will enable women in business to access information and financial services. Specifically, the platform aims to improve the ability of women entrepreneurs to network and share information as well as to access information on financial and non-financial services.

The platform

The 50 Million African Women Speak (50MAWS), is a digital platform which is available via web and on mobile devices as an app. The platform is intended to empower millions of women in Africa to start, grow, and scale up businesses by providing a one-stop shop for their specific information needs.

The 50MAWS platform aims to facilitate a dynamic and engaging exchange of ideas among women entrepreneurs, using in-built social media functionality to connect them with one another in ways that will foster peer-to-peer learning, mentoring and the sharing of information and knowledge within communities, and access to financial services and market opportunities between urban and rural areas, and across borders and between countries.

Featuring information on doing business in 38 countries across the African continent, 50MAWS’ unique proposition is building a community of women entrepreneurs who will act as peers, mentors, advisors and financiers to each other. This social network is designed to help women to learn from each other, inspire each other and draw from the most comprehensive resource bank for information on various aspects of doing business.

It will also facilitate access to training, business management tools and financing options specifically targeted to women. The expected outcome is to directly impact 50 million African women and create fair waged jobs for young people from the increased business activities and capital flow.

Features

The 50 Million African Women Speak platform includes the following features:

i: A Resources area which provides information on the following:

  • Business services (business registration processes, immigration information, legal aid, access to inputs, potential sponsors, export and import licenses)
  • Access to finance (Financial services providers and their products targeting women)
  • Access to markets (Buyers and sellers)
  • Capacity building (Learning modules for entrepreneurship and Mentorship)
  • Telecom Companies (products that can be beneficial to women in business)
  • Transport Agencies 
  • Social services    
  • Success stories
  • Weather updates

ii: A Networking area which provides the following interactive features:

  • Wall (Allows users to create their own posts)
  • Forum (Allows users to create or reply to discussion threads)
  • Chat (Allows private one-on-one interactions)
  • Group (Allows users can create topics for discussion on topics of interest to all of them)

*Please note that a user can only access the Networking area if they are fully registered.

iii: Calendar (event creation and management tool) - available for registered users only.

Visit the 50MAWS Networking Platform, www.womenconnect.org

Partners

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Common Market for Eastern and Southern African (COMESA) Secretariat

COMESA began in December 1994 when it was formed to replace the former Preferential Trade Area (PTA) which had existed from the earlier days of 1981. COMESA (as defined by its Treaty) was established ‘as an organisation of free independent sovereign states which have agreed to co-operate in developing their natural and human resources for the good of all their people’ and as such it has a wide-ranging series of objectives which necessarily include in its priorities the promotion of peace and security in the region.

 

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East African Community (EAC) Secretariat

The East African Community (EAC) is a regional intergovernmental organisation of 6 Partner States: The Republics of Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, the United Republic of Tanzania, and the Republic of Uganda, with its headquarters in Arusha, Tanzania.

The EAC is home to 172 million citizens, of which over 22% is urban population. With a land area of 2.5 million square kilometres and a combined Gross Domestic Product of US$ 172 billion (EAC Statistics for 2017), its realisation bears great strategic and geopolitical significance and prospects for the renewed and reinvigorated EAC.

 

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Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS)

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) was established on May 28 1975 via the treaty of Lagos, ECOWAS is a 15-member regional group with a mandate of promoting economic integration in all fields of activity of the constituting countries.

Member countries making up ECOWAS are Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Cote d’ Ivoire, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Senegal and Togo.


East African Community
EAC Close
Afrika Mashariki Road
P.O. Box 1096
Arusha
United Republic of Tanzania

Tel: +255 (0)27 216 2100
Fax: +255 (0)27 216 2190
Email: eac@eachq.org