Each year on the 8th of March, the World celebrates International Women’s Day. This year, on the 6th of March 2020, the East African Community (EAC) Secretariat and its partners joined the rest of the World in taking stock of women’s achievements throughout history and across nations. The Incubator for Integration and Development in East Africa (IIDEA) invited six women project beneficiaries from each of the six EAC partner States to participate in the commemorations.
This years’ theme was “I am Generation Equality: Women’s Rights”, with #EachforEqual, and #IWD2020 as the Campaign Hashtags. It was celebrated at the EAC Secretariat headquarters in Arusha with over 200 participants in attendance from across the EAC.
The IIDEA project beneficiaries who traveled to Arusha for the commemorations included Jean Bayera from Rwanda, Edna Mudibo from Kenya, Noellah Gachuma from Tanzania, Mariam Babu from Uganda, Dukuze Mireille from Burundi, and Suliman Grace Keje Habib from South Sudan. Dukuze Mireille, a beneficiary from the IIDEA funded project by Health Healing Network Burundi (HHNB), traveled with her six-month old baby to the commemorations. Mireille directly benefited from the Mobile Platform for Maternal Health project during delivery and antenatal care. The project utilizes a digital platform to enable information sharing, pregnancy monitoring and education among nurses, community health workers, and pregnant women in Burundi and can be replicated across the East African region.
Noellah Gachuma from Tarime, Tanzania, showcased cotton oil and soap, which she produces and sells in the Mara region of the country. Her products also find markets in Kenya. This was made possible through Base for Education Dissemination (BED), which is an IIDEA project partner. Grace Keje, from South Sudan also displayed Shea butter products and extracts, which she also produces from natural extracts.
While making opening remarks at the commemorations, the EAC Secretary General, Amb. Liberat Mfumukeko, said that EAC had adopted, among other things, a programme to mainstream gender and promote the rights of women in all EAC policies and programmes, and in regional and continental instruments. His remarks were delivered by Mary Makofu, EAC Director of Social Sectors. Dr. Kirsten Focken, the EAC-GIZ cluster coordinator, called upon policy makers to review laws and regulatory frameworks that hinder gender equality, women’s economic participation, and develop specific innovative approaches to promote generation equality and women rights. She concluded her remarks by urging the EAC Partner States to fast track assent of the EAC Gender Equality and Development Bill so that it becomes a reality for the region.