One of the major guiding principles in achieving the EAC integration is a people-centred and private sector led development as provided for in the Treaty for the establishment of the EAC. The GIZ-EAC Programme “Support to the East African Community Integration Process” is committed to supporting equal participation and representation of the interests of women and men in political decision-making processes in the EAC integration process. Also IIDEA has been supporting several regional integration projects with a special focus on women empowerment; such as Sauti, Pro-Femmes, Cocafem, SSWEA, DMT and HHNB. Their contributions range from the facilitation of market access through mobile applications, to capacity building training and include also Maternal Care in rural Areas.
Training for Cross-Border Trade Women Cooperatives
In the current phase, the programme supported the EAC Gender Department in the implementation of the Strategic Plan for Gender (2012-2016) in four areas:
- Participation of women in cross-border trade
- Regional awareness campaigns on gender equality
- Monitoring & Evaluation (M&E) system to track the progress of policies and legal frameworks and progress in the Gender sector
- Gender Audit Report.
These measures were implemented in collaboration with the GIZ-African Union Border Programme and the EAC Secretariat.
- An EAC Gender Policy was adopted; EAC Secretariat, Organs and Institutions as well as Partner States have committed to its implementation through integrated work plans
- A market place to support small scale cross border women doing cross-border trade was created at Busia border post in Kenya
- Over 300 cross-border women traders went through training courses on the EAC trade guides, rules and regulations
- A cross-border women’s association to resolve border disputes involving women cross-border traders was formed in Busia
- The number of women in business participating in the EAC policy development process and trade in the region has increased.
The challenges remaining include inadequate resource allocation to the EAC Gender Department, lack of statistical data on gender, which affected the finalization of documents such as the EAC Gender Policy, the EAC Gender Barometer and the 2nd EAC Gender Audit, and limited support for gender issues in the EAC by other development partners. Gender mainstreaming in the EAC Secretariat, Organs, Institutions and Partner states is still not a top priority.
Women in East Africa getting engaged to become entrepreneurs
The GIZ-EAC Programme, which is about to start a phase of cooperation with the EAC, will integrate gender into all programme activities and ensure that women and youth are appropriately included in the various sectors.
Especially our Incubator for Integration and Development in East Africa (IIDEA) will take a stand for women empowerment and change the focus of the project selection towards this global aim.