Gender and Women
In catering for the enhancement of the role of women, the Treaty provisions enumerated in Articles 121-122 endorses that women in East Africa play an important role in the economic, social and political development of the region. This is mainly through their activities as producers of goods and services, keepers of family health, first teachers of the children and guardians of morals and culture.
Women, despite constituting over 60 percent of the EAC population are still marginalised in the decision-making processes and have limited access to education, finance, information and communication technologies in comparison to their male counterparts. In order to address the above challenges, Partner States have taken several measures to address the imbalances meted out on the female Gender through human history. This has been done through enacting and implementing different policies and legal frameworks.
At the regional level, Article 5(e) of the Treaty covers issues of mainstreaming gender into all EAC endeavours, while Article 121 and 122 emphasise the role of women in socio-economic development in the Partner States.
Various EAC policy frameworks have operationalised the Treaty provisions by recognising the vital role of women in driving EAC’s regional integration process. Such documents include the EAC Gender and Community Development Strategic Plan and the 4th EAC Development Strategy (2011-2016) and provide guidelines for mainstreaming gender in EAC policies and programmes.
The EAC also organises the EAC Conference on the Role of Women in Socio-Economic Development and Women in Business (the first one was held in August 2011 in Kigali, Rwanda and the second was held in August 2015 in Nairobi, Kenya). Such conferences are of key importance in contextualising challenges faced by business women within the region.
The EAC has also developed a draft regional strategy on promoting women in socio-economic development and women in business. It is as well in the process of developing a regional financial facility targeting women-owned businesses and to be hosted at the East African Development Bank (EADB). Both drafts currently await adoption by the Council.