EAC Gender Equality and Development Bill/ACT
FINALLY, THE EAC GENDER EQUALITY AND DEVELOPMENT ACT WAS PASSED ON INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY, 2017 AS THE BEST GIFT TO EAC CITIZENS!
The Eastern African Sub Regional Support Initiative for the Advancement of Women (EASSI) cordially thanks the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) for their demonstrated commitment to gender equality by passing THE EAST AFRICAN GENDER EQUALITY AND DEVELOPMENT ACT on International Women’s Day, 2017 in Kigali, Rwanda.
Since 2008, EASSI in partnership with women rights’ alliances in the 5 Partners states has been campaigning for an East African Gender Equality Protocol. This later changed into a bill which was tabled at East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) as a Private Members Bill by Hon. Nancy Abisai. The overall purpose of the EAC Gender and Development Act is to advance Gender Equality across the 5 EAC Partner states in the economic, political, social and cultural spheres, for the benefit of women and men by consolidating into one legally binding document, the various human rights instruments to which the EAC partner states are party or signatory at the continental and International levels. (The Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, CEDAW, the protocol to the African charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the rights of women in Africa and the Recent Sustainable Development Goals especially Goal 1 and 5)
This campaign was inspired by a similar campaign in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) waged by the women’s movement in Southern Africa for a SADC Gender
The EAC Gender Act harmonizes national laws of the EAC Member States with regional and international standards of protection and promotion of gender and human rights, promote non-discrimination and gender equality in the processes of good governance for strengthened regional integration and sustainable development of the Community.
The EAC Gender Equality and Development Act focuses on these 13 critical areas;
- Legal and State Obligations to Protect Human Rights.
- Power and Decision Making.
- Agriculture and Food Security
- Land Rights.
- Peace and Security.
- Climate Change and Environmental Management.
- Extractive Industries.
- Marginalized Groups
To fast track implementation of the EAC Gender Act, EASSI has already produced a pilot EAC Gender Barometer, based on the 13 articles of the Gender bill and will include Citizens Perceptions. Having a Gender Barometer is a critical tool for not only enhancing citizen’s participation in governance processes through critical information but also a tool for holding governments accountable to their gender commitments.
EASSI@20:Celebrating 20 years of advocating for women’s rights and gender equality in Eastern Africa and the Horn
In 2016, EASSI marked its 20th Anniversary with pomp and colour. A series of activities were organized to mark the event and among them were; Launch of EASSI house and Training Center and the Ist Eastern African Sub-regional Women's Colloquium on SDGs.
Launch of EASSI House and Training Center
To mark, its 20th Anniversary, EASSI held anniversary celebrations at its secretariat in Kampala, Uganda. It used the occasion to launch its House and Training Center.
The House was launched by the Ugandan State Minister for Youth and Children Affairs Hon. Florence Nakiwala Kiyingi. The second floor of the house is now complete. The house will have four floors and a basement. EASSI house is a hub for women empowerment that once fully complete will only be equaled to a five star facility. It will have rooms for accommodation, conference rooms, office space to let and a resource center for young women. Currently, the organization has opened up its ground and second floor for hire to those in need of rooms for conferences/meetings and office space. It is anticipated that completion of the EASSI house will open up more opportunities for the organization. Currently, it acts as the venue for most of EASSI events. The House has a fast speed wires internet connection and a constant supply of power. It has rooms that can accommodate both small and big meetings and conferences.
Support Women's Empowerment, get your office space at EASSI house or host a meeting/conference here!
1st Eastern African Sub-region Women's Colloquium on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
EASSI in partnership with UN Women held the first ever women’s colloquium on SDGs as another major activity to mark its 20 year anniversary. The Colloquium was held to take stock of the achievements of the women in Eastern Africa and the Horn in line with gender equality. The overall objective of the Colloquium was to bring together national and international policy experts, women’s organizations, academia, and other key bodies to identify innovative ways of promoting the achievement of the SDGs and raise awareness on the Agenda 2030. Participants were drawn from Uganda. Kenya, Tanzania, Burundi, Rwanda, Eritrea, Somalia and Ethiopia.
Information and Marketing Centers
EASSI operates 7 resource centers at Malaba (Kenya/Uganda) border, Busia (Kenya/Uganda) border, Taveta (Kenya/Tanzania) border, Mutukula (Uganda/Tanzania) border and Katuna (Uganda/Rwanda) border. It also operates one marketing and resource center under her Women Economic Justice project in Luweero district-Uganda. Through the resource center, EASSI disseminates up to date market information to women traders on different products across the region. This has enabled the women make informed choices on where to buy or sell their goods. The Resource centers are equipped with computers, photocopiers, mobile internet and skilled staff.
EAC Gender Barometer
With support from Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), EASSI continued to build and consolidate earlier achievements attained during the East African Gender Protocol (EADGE) campaign, towards producing the 1st ever EAC Gender Barometer. Under the EADGE Project EASSI in partnership with the Society for International Development (SID) established the Monitoring and Evaluation Framework to Tracking Gender Equality Commitments in the East African Community and a Status report on the East Africa Community Partner States for a Gender Barometer (EASSI 2013) among other studies. Under the ongoing WAW project EASSI is utilizing structures from the grassroots to national and regional levels, to strategise and broaden its advocacy efforts and increase synergies with strategic links.
The East African Community Gender Barometer report will be produced on an annual basis and is similar to the SADC Gender Barometer. The EAC Gender Barometer will provide a synthesized measure of gender equality that is both easy to understand and to communicate. The tool will also play an important role by supporting decision-makers in assessing how far a given Partner State is reaching gender equality. The use of the Gender Barometer will allow meaningful comparisons to be made between different policy areas and across partner states. The Barometer will also give visibility to gender equality by making it possible to measure its progress over time.
At the beginning of 2016, EASSI and its focal point organizations from Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Burundi and Rwanda were trained by Gender Links on the production of EAC Gender Barometer. Gender Links is a Southern Africa NGO that has been at the forefront of producing the SADC Gender Barometer report since 2009.
Monitoring the Beijing and African Platforms for Action
Over the years, EASSI has been documenting and monitoring post-Beijing progress within the eight countries of the sub-region. Reviews on the progress of member countries on the 12 critical areas of concern were done at Beijing +10, +15 and more recently +20 and reports published. You can find some of these reports under “Publications” on the website (www.eassi.org).
Citizen Voice and Agency emphasizes community development practices such as participation, inclusion, ownership and sustainability. This can only be achieved through clear advocacy strategies which integrates, information, voice, dialogue and accountability. EASSI advocates for women’s rights and Gender Equality in East and the Horn Africa. It strives to ensure that gender dimensions are included in Key Policies and frameworks.
In 2017, one of EASSI's Advocacy towards the enactment of the East African Community (EAC) Gender and Development Bill yielded results when after 10 years, the East African Legislative Assembly passed it into law. After this great achievement, EASSI is now directing her advocacy towards;
- The EAC Partner states to fast track the assent and later implementation of the Act.
- Civil Society to embrace the Act and create mass awareness among the EAC Citizenry to demand for implementation of the Act.
Besides the EAC Gender Bill, EASSI is also advocating for the Engendering of the East African Non-Tariff Barriers Act.
Campaign for the Gender Responsiveness of the EAC Non-Tariff Barriers Act (NTBs Act) 2015
EASSI in partnership with DIAKONIA is implementing a 5 year project; Promoting Women’s Economic Justice in the East African community. The philosophy behind this project is that achieving women’s economic justice in the EAC is possible if stakeholders enhance the credibility of their advocacy with evidence on gaps that are periodically assessed and documented. This will also be possible if a deliberate effort is made to invest in strengthening the capacity of civil society to engage, influence and demand for the implementation, review, and formulation of gender responsive trade policies, laws and regulations at national and regional level. The overall goal of this project is to contribute to women's economic justice in the East African Community. The project focuses at achieving 2 broad areas: EAC and partner states enact and implement the EAC Gender Bill by 2020; and EAC and Partner states implement the EAC Elimination of Non –Tariff Barriers Act (2015) in a gender responsive manner by 2020. Under this project, EASSI made the following achievements.
Futher still, EASSI is also keen on mobilizing women to hold governments accountable on various issues particularly those around the 12 critical areas of concern of the Beijing Platform for Action and the EAC Gender Equality and Development Bill. These are: Gender Based Violence, the Media, Education, Health, Power and Decision making, Economic Empowerment, Agriculture and food security, land rights, trade, Peace and Security, Environmental Management, and Marginalized groups. Through research, EASSI uses evidence based information to sensitise the women/communities to hold their government accountable in regard to the earlier mentioned areas.
EASSI also trains organizations and women leaders in advocacy for the advancement of women.
EASSI endeavors to increase the capacity of its members, staff and board in the following priority areas:-
- Organizational development
- Resource mobilization
- Networking and communication
- Leadership, Lobbying and advocacy skills
- Monitoring and Evaluation
Communication and Networking
Communication is a backbone of any successful change process and the key to establishment of acceptable public trust, building public image and partnerships. This is why EASSI uses strategic communication to ensure that the work we do with women and girls, boys and men is shared and communicated to the different stakeholders and their feedback received where necessary. EASSI uses cutting edge communication tools, strategies and platforms to contribute to the body of knowledge on women’s rights and gender equality. Priority areas include:
- Strengthening the capacity of women and girls as well as their associations and groups to access information and manage knowledge.
- Creating and managing platforms to share information, ideas, strategies and experiences for cross-learning and implementation. This includes; social media platforms, websites, list serves and e-gender databases among others.
- Media campaigns aimed at fixing attention on issues relating to gender equality, driving debate and encouraging action-oriented solutions until commitments to gender equality in the EAC are met.
IEC Materials -EASSI develops and disseminates Information, Education and Communication (IEC) materials on the status of implementation gender equality instruments, progress and calling for accelerated implementation where needed. It also collects success stories and lessons learnt which are shared inform women and duty holders. Examples of such materials are newsletter, documentaries, and policy briefs, annual and quarterly reports among others
The Young Women’s Leadership Training Institute and Volunteer Programme
Over 10 years of mentoring and nurturing young women who are passionate about women and gender, EASSI through its volunteer and young women’s leadership programme has contributed to over 80 young women who have stepped out to mentor others and occupy positions of leadership. The programme targets young women between the ages of 25-35 years. The training has transformed the lives of young women and has equipped them with knowledge, skills and expertise to become transformative leaders within their communities and the region at large.
The objectives of the leadership program include: Equipping young women with knowledge and skills in leadership, gender analysis as well as in the formulation and implementation of gender responsive projects and programmes; initiating a forum for young women to meet and build alliances for individual and professional support, sensitizing and empowering young women on gender issues so as to improve the quality of gender analysis and research in the Sub-Region; strengthening existing national and regional networks through net-working and solidarity and to build and sustain links and empower the young women living in fundamentally patriarchal communities with self-development and life skills.