Non-Tariff Barriers, NTBs are still a bottleneck to many cross border traders in East Africa particularly the women. Unfortunately, very few Civil Society Organizations, CSOs have the capacity to advocate for their total elimination. To support CSOs and ensure that they are fully engaged in demanding and advocating for gender responsive trade policies, EASSI with support from DIAKONIA organized a workshop that brought together all the CSOs working on trade. The meeting held on 9th November 2017 was aimed at improving participants’ understanding of gender dimensions of Non-Tariff Barriers and development of individual SMART Plans for their Elimination.
In a study of the gender responsiveness of Non-Tariff Barriers Act in the EAC done by EASSI, it was revealed that there are various gender inequalities in trade including; procedures to obtain a passport for women that differ from those for men. In addition, the study identified gender gaps in most trade policies that included; mainstreaming gender equity in trade instruments and processes is difficult, women’s participation at all levels of the trade is lacking, trade facilitation crafting and implementation was missing, empowering women by information and training is still a challenge, Gender budgeting is not implemented and women cross border traders are not protected against sexual violence. Mr. Wakabi Siranji from Ministry of Trade, Industry and Cooperative informed participants that so far the Uganda government and other EAC Partner states have made progress in Eliminating NTBs and these included; Establishment of NTB Reporting System, Re-alignment of National Laws to the NTB Act, Implementation of the Communication and Advocacy Strategy for awareness creation and Establishment of Institutional mechanism for handling NTBs.
As a way forward, participants also provided various strategies for realization of trade without NTBs and these included; Public awareness through media, Institutionalizing Joint Border Committees and NTB Platforms at the local government, private sector and community levels, Translation of all the information on NTBs in to local languages, Developing a calendar for monthly meetings as an association where members are able to raise the various NTBs they are facing, incorporation of Women trader’s representatives on the NTB Monitoring and elimination committees and demanding Governments to allocate resources to allow gender budgeting.
The Women’s Economic Justice Project in the EAC (East African Community) under EASSI and partners work to eliminate the Non-Tariff Barriers is in line with goal number 1 of Agenda 2030 which seeks to end poverty in all its forms everywhere and area one of the Beijing Platform for Action which addresses women and poverty as well as critical area 6 which addresses women and the economy.