The Eastern African Sub-regional Support Initiative for the Advancement of Women (EASSI), together with affiliated regional civil society organisations are pushing for the enactment of a gender equality and development bill in the East African Community.
This is part of advocacy efforts to protect and promote gender equality and women rights within the region, where the activists have called for the bill that will help accelerate implementation of the different international instruments to which the EAC partner states assented.
While the EAC partner states signed and ratified various regional and international instruments relating to gender equality and women’s rights, efforts to implement them are sometimes insufficient.
According to Christine Nankubuge, the programme’s director at EASSI, the bill on gender equality and development was initiated after realising that there was a slow implementation of some of the commitments and no official agreement to hold members accountable.
“EAC partner states signed to other instruments of international treaties and when we were asking ourselves where we are in terms of realising women’s rights and gender equality, we found that there was no legally binding agreement to hold partner states accountable. This is how we started the campaign for having a gender equality and development protocol,” she said during the national validation meeting of the Rwanda Baseline Barometer Report.
The campaign for the bill which started in 2008 is currently tabled at the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) as a Private Members Bill.
During the Validation Meeting of Rwanda Baseline Barometer Report on Gender Equality and Development that took place in Kigali, participants took time off to review different sectors of development of which many are outlined in the bill.
“We have had a fruitful day reviewing various reports on Rwanda’s situation in terms of realising gender equality and development in different sectors of development. Countries were able to learn from what we’ve done for the past years. We know Rwanda tops other countries in the region in terms of gender promotion,” said Emma Marie Bugingo, the executive secretary of Pro-Femmes, one of the affiliate organisations.
Rwanda is spearheading gender equality in the region in several fields, but there are some areas where it’s lagging behind. For example in economic justice where women hold a few economic positions, in agriculture where over 70 of the population involved in agriculture are women, and in decision making and power particularly issues of land ownership and control, among others.
Bugingo said that, once the bill is adopted Rwanda will gain much especially in promoting these sectors and that other countries will be able to learn from the country.