Home NewsNational EALA Women Caucus Seeks Support For First-Ever Strategic Plan

EALA Women Caucus Seeks Support For First-Ever Strategic Plan

by Daniel Sabiiti
12:38 pm

Women EALA MPs at the Caucus meeting in Kigali

The East African Legislative Assembly Women Parliamentarians Caucus (EALA-WC) has launched its first ever strategic plan with a call for funding to actualise the plan aimed at bridging gender gaps in the community.

The caucus established in 2007 aims to coordinate efforts in advancing women’s rights and gender equality within the framework of East African Community (EAC) regional integration.

The caucus has played a major role in the birth of the EAC Gender Equality, Equity and Development Bill, Prohibition of Female Genital Mutilation Bill, Counter Trafficking in Persons Bill (all in 2016); and the EAC Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights Bill in 2017.

The 5-year strategic plan (2022-2027) developed through consultations, outlines the Caucus’s strategic objectives around the theme of “Accelerating Economic Recovery through Climate Action and Enhancing Food Security for Improved Livelihoods”. These include:

To achieve Gender-Responsive Governance: Through women’s equal political participation, advancing Women’s role in peace and security and promoting good governance, promote an inclusive, equitable and gender-responsive EAC Common Market process.

It also looks to promote women’s equal status and strengthen the EALA-WC’s institutional capacity to effectively and efficiently plan, organize and execute its strategic intent.

“We hope to identify potential partners who can assist in the implementation of this strategic plan but also mobilise resources towards implementation of the plan,” said MP Fatuma Ndangiza, the Caucus’s Secretary General.

Dr. Anne Itto, the Caucus Chairperson, said that as women they want to build institutional capacity to implement gender equality in the region, which is very important to achieve towards EAC integration, however there has been a lack of resources to implement the strategic plan which was tabled December 2022.

“The EALA-WC is currently navigating challenges associated with funding and resource constraints, which undermine its ability to effectively champion women’s priorities in integration,” Itto said.

Itto said that if they had the resources to implement the plan, they would be miles ahead today, thus the dissemination is critical and ensuring all stakeholders are aware and have viable entry points to plug in.

“This is because we cannot do this on our own as the scope of the strategic plan extends from the grassroots to the region and am quite sure all of us are looking at where we can make the most impact,” Itto said.

Speaker of Rwanda Parliament MP Donatille Mukabalisa (2nd right) and Gender Minister Dr. Valentine Uwamariya (far right) welcomed the EALA-WC meeting.

Denise Umwari, representing Dr. Jennet Kem, UN Women Country Representative in Rwanda, said the organisation supports the plan but said that on the regional level, more work is needed despite the establishment of legal and institutional frameworks.

The UN agency pledged to bridge the gender digital gap by calling for more action in promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment in EAC.

“I pledge to call for more action to liaise with my colleagues from sister UN agencies and all our partners to advocate for the support to the noble work of EALA women’s caucus as described in its strategic plan,” Kem’s statement read.

Dr. Valentine Uwamariya, Rwanda’s Minister of Gender and Family Promotion shared Rwanda’s experience of gender equality and commitment to bridging the digital gender divide by 2026 and high quality life for all Rwandans.

“We cannot achieve that goal effectively without promoting an inclusive equitable and gender-responsive East African community common market,” Uwamariya said, noting that EAC women need to trade without any challenge related to border crossing of taxation and stated that by holding back women is to hold everyone in poverty.

Uwamariya said that the caucus stands as a beacon of hope embodying values of inclusivity and progress and crafting the strategic plan document, it embodies EAC’s shared commitment and thus a need to disseminate it and raise awareness and resource mobilisation to achieve the EAC shared goals.

On behalf of MP Joseph Ntakirutimana, the Speaker of EALA, MP George Odongo said that integration is incomplete and social integration is incomplete without the involvement of women.

Odongo, who is also HeForShe member of the caucus said that the participation of women is still slow- which causes a huge governance deficit and thus a strategic plan will intervene and amplify the voice of women to be involved.

“We need to break barriers that are limiting our imaginations beyond culture and tendencies against women participation. It is time to break the egg to enjoy the Omelet,” Odongo said.

Status Quo Challenged:

To better eat that omelette, Women EALA MPs said that there is need to change some structures which impede women to identify themselves as abled persons especially in elections.

EALA Women Caucus

“Women leaders should be voted by fellow women, that way they can own their business. In my experience of being elected it is men who determine whether you are suitable or not, and that doesn’t make us feel in charge, “MP Zipporah Kering said.

Moses Kanyesigye, the Joint program coordinator, SMEs, Youth in business, trade and enterprise- East African Business Council (EABC) & Youlead Africa challenged the leaders to rethink inclusion by asking when the all borders will be open to welcome all as family, the high calling fees will be scrapped and when will EAC trade without barriers.

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