The just concluded regional conference on women yesterday recommended East African member states to carry out specific awareness training programs for women entrepreneurs on existing international and regional treaties and legislation to enable them identify opportunities and benefits.
The first ever regional women conference was aimed at discussing the role of women in socio-economic development and women in business in order to share and exploit business opportunities in the region.
Speaking to The New Times shortly after closing the conference, EAC Minister, Monique Mukaruliza, acknowledged that it was essential to consider women as players in regional integration, saying that more training will be delivered to allow women participate effectively.
“As ministers, we have agreed to intensify the training of women, not only to acquire skills, but to also participate effectively in the development of our community.” she noted
Mukaruliza noted that Rwandan and other regional women would be encouraged to indulge in various fields, especially ICT and mining sector.
The meeting resolved that EAC Partner States should always consult women leaders at various levels, including women entrepreneurs and ensure their participation in the formulation of national policies and legislation that reflect on women needs and demands.
Closing the conference, the Ugandan First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for East African Community Affairs, Eriya Kategaya, said that regional countries need to finance all areas that provide employment opportunities for women.
“We need to implement and finance all the initiatives that provide jobs to women in order to empower them to fight poverty and participate in the integration of the East Africa community” he said.
On the issue of promoting youth and business, participants agreed that the EAC Secretariat should coordinate the creation of an EAC Award for outstanding innovative contribution to industry by women and youth as well as establishing a regional business centre for women entrepreneurs.
It was also agreed that Partner States should establish mechanisms that encourage women to move to areas of high growth potential such as finance, banking and mining and fight against social cultural prejudices that discourage women from participating in these sectors.
The meeting recommended that Partner States should enhance access to credit and other financial services as well as promoting women financial capacity through establishment of Savings and Credit Co-operatives (SACCOs) and other Micro finance institutions.
Reports indicate that lack of financial capacity to expand the businesses is one of the major setbacks that impede the development of women in the whole region as access to finance would enhance development opportunities.