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Campaign for EAC Gender Equality Bill

Wednesday, 09 November 2011 22:04 EASSI
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The Campaign for an East African Community Protocol on Gender and Development spearheaded by EASSI, emerged as a response to the need to ensure that the EAC regional integration process fully addresses gender considerations through development of a Declaration that brings into one legally binding document all commitments to women’s rights based on international instruments such as the Beijing Platform for Action and CEDAW and regional instruments such as the AU Solemn Declaration on Gender parity all informed by the specific gender considerations prevailing in the EAC region. The campaign seeks to ensure that gains made towards addressing women’s rights do not dissipate in the integration process but are scaled up to the sub-regional level.

The campaign draws on the experiences of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) which through the concerted efforts of gender focused organisations, and women members of Parliament was able to lobby for a Gender Protocol with far reaching results for the realization of women’s rights in the southern African region.

The project was implemented in three phases namely; (i) Phase 1: 2008 – 2010; (ii) Phase 2: 2010 – 2012 and (iii) Phase 3: January 2013 to June 2013.

Goal
The overall goal of the project was to contribute towards gender equality and women’s development and empowerment in the EAC. The purpose was to consolidate and strengthen all the international commitments to gender equality (BPFA, CEDAW, the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa and the MDGs) into one regional legal instrument

Objectives

•    Advocate for the adoption and implementation of an East African Gender Equality Declaration 
•    Advocate for the establishment of a Centre for Gender and Community Development at the EAC

Target group

The targets for the project were the East African Community (EAC) structures including: the EAC Secretariat; the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA); the East African Court of Justice; and relevant Ministries of Gender, Ministries in charge of EAC Affairs and other Gender machinery in the five member countries of the EAC, namely Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda.

Key achievements since 2008

  • Signing of an MOU between EASSI and the EAC, July 2010
  • Development of a Draft Gender Protocol
  • Adoption of the Draft Gender Protocol by the EAC as their own internal document
  • Establishment of an EAC Sectoral Council on Gender, Youth, Children, Social Protection and Development - the first of its kind, mandated to implement the social development agenda of the EAC.
  • A Draft Gender Bill by the EAC (June 2013)
  • Development of a regional Monitoring and Evaluation framework
  • Participation in ongoing process to develop an EAC Gender Policy
  • Development of Gender Mainstreaming instruments in the EAC

Challenges

•    Inadequate data on gender and women’s issues thus making it hard to hold the governments accountable.
•    EAC bureaucratic processes - a major impediment to the campaign especially with the initial lack of a specific Sectoral Council to make concrete decisions and give direction to matters related to the Social Services Sector including gender. (The council was eventually established in 2012).
•    The Gender and Community Development Department remains thin on the ground with only one substantive staff member.

Lessons learnt

•    It is important to have formal partnership when working with complex institutions such as the EAC. The MoU for the Gender Protocol campaign signed between the EAC and EASSI was very instrumental since the EAC had to abide by the commitment made.
•    It is good practice to involve as many stakeholders as possible at various levels. The EADGE campaign was taken to grass roots, national, regional and International level, which enabled the process to benefit from synergies among women and men in the region.

Conclusion

When we set  out to implement the campaign for an EAC Gender and Development Protocol, we did not anticipate the difficulties of causing change in a highly patriarchal institution entrenched with its own beliefs and culture.  What has been achieved over the past few years is tremendous.  Now that the EAC proudly speaks of the gender Protocol speaks volumes of how things have changed. The same EAC drafting a gender Bill which reflects almost 100 percent women’s aspirations as set out in the draft Gender Protocol is in a way communicating that campaign coalition has done a good job.

The gender mainstreaming instruments are going to be a forerunner for the Protocol and Bill and will be instruments with which EASSI and the Women of East Africa will hold governments accountable in regard to gender equality internally within the EAC organs.


Last Updated on Monday, 18 April 2016 13:32