Avenues of engagement with Women and Men
EAC Conferences on Women in Socio-economic development and Women in Business
The Community through the East African Customs Union and Common Market integration phases have opened up borders and unlocked opportunities for East Africans to freely move across the borders as persons or workers, and to establish themselves as self-employed persons and traders in agreed upon service sectors in the Partner States. As such, through the EAC Gender and Community Development Strategic Plan (2012-2014), the 4th EAC Development Strategy (2011/12-2015/16), the participation of women in business, trade and investment has been prioritised by Partner States as a vital path to equitable socio economic development.
In view of the above rationale, the EAC regularly organises conferences to review and discuss the role of women in business and in the socio-economic development of the region. The first conference under the theme, “Unlocking Business Opportunities for Women within an EAC Common Market” was held on 5th-6th August 2011 in Kigali, Rwanda. The second conference under the theme “advancing and expanding the participation of business women in Intra-EAC trade” was held in in Nairobi, Kenya from 20th-21st August 2015.
The conferences are organised in collaboration with the East African Business Council and the host Partner States. The conferences bring together participants from all EAC Partner States including representatives of the Partner States Ministries responsible for EAC Affairs, Trade, and Gender and Development; Women entrepreneurs from the region and beyond; EABC Representatives; Civil Society Organisations and observers.
There were also representatives of Women Entrepreneurs from the Republic of South Sudan. The Conference made several recommendations to be incorporated in the ongoing EAC programmes on promoting women in socio-economic development.
As a result of the conferences, a database of Women Entrepreneurs has been developed and a network of business women in the region called the “East African Women in Business Platform” has been formed. Sources of affordable financing for women in business have also been identified and projects initiated.
Projects to Promote Participation of Women in Business, Trade and Investment
- Regional Financial Facility to be developed in collaboration with the East African Development Bank (EADB). This will target women-owned businesses and aim at reducing the risk of loans extended to women-owned businesses, limit transaction costs as well as guarantee payment in case of default.
- A Regional Strategy for Promoting Women in Business for Socio-Economic Development has been developed.
The Vision of the Strategy is “a Region in which women enjoy economic, social, and political rights and are empowered to secure better lives for themselves, their families, and their communities”.
The Mission of the Strategy is to “increase the number of women engaging in viable and value adding economic activities; and also, capable of equitably contributing to the socio-economic development of the Region”.
Celebrating of the International Women’s Day
Every 8th of March, the EAC joins the rest of the world to celebrate the International Women's Day. This is to honour our mothers, sisters, daughters, friends, colleagues and all the ladies who have inspired, paved the way and given hope to so many of us; the true pillars of the region.
An EAC Women’s website was developed to popularise this day and as a constant avenue of interaction, providing tailored information on women, gender and the other achievements and successes made by women.