Women, youth task EALA on integration challenges

Despite a ‘remarkable’ progress on regional integration, numerous challenges still need to be addressed, women and youth groups yesterday told Rwandan members of the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA).
A section of the participants who attended the interactive meeting with Rwandan East African Legislative Assembly MPs at in Kigali yesterday.  The New Times/ T. Kisambira.
A section of the participants who attended the interactive meeting with Rwandan East African Legislative Assembly MPs at in Kigali yesterday. The New Times/ T. Kisambira.

Despite a ‘remarkable’ progress on regional integration, numerous challenges still need to be addressed, women and youth groups yesterday told Rwandan members of the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA).

Delegates of the civil society, National Women Council and representatives of both the National Youth Council and the Council of Persons with Disability (PWDs) from across the country were meeting the eight members of EALA in Kigali.

During an interactive workshop to share what EALA has achieved and chart way forward, women said one of the challenges is that Rwandans importing goods from regional countries endure robberies and violence from even the fellow passengers.

They called upon the MPs to push for a mechanism that would protect them.

EALA member Valerie Nyirahabimana said there is an information desk on women in small and medium trans-boundary business meant to operate on border posts to address women issues.

Other opportunities to support women doing business, including the EAC bank, which plans to set up a grant fund are in the pipeline, she added.

According to Nyirahabimana, a draft law to set up EAC Women Council is also underway during this fiscal year.

An initiative of Rwanda to bring together women business of the region last year helped local women to discover more opportunities within the region, the lawmakers said.

Meanwhile, the youth, represented in EALA by Jean Damascene Ndahiro, called for an EAC Youth Council to be set up to address  proliferation of drugs and unemployment.

Also, Gastone Rusiha, the chairperson of the Council of PWDs, said the disabled are ignored in most of the EAC sittings. He appealed to EALA members to advocate for a desk in the community secretariat.

Responding to PWDs interest, MP Nyirahabimana said the issue was raised in 2009 and that the Rwandan representatives called for a clear policy to cater for PWDs.

Dr James Ndahiro, the MP representing PWDs in EALA, stressed the need for the integration process to cater for people living with disability.

“Is that treaty on non-tariff barriers clear about purchase of goods and services used by PWDs? We should look at such agreements and find what they say about us,” he said.

Encouraging the participants, the MPs said it’s even allowed to send a motion as interest groups for EALA to consider.

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