The Gender Equality and Development Act was passed by East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) on Women’s Day. The law aims to advance gender equality and equity among EAC member states in economic, political, socio-economic and cultural aspects.
PIC:Christine Mbonyingingo (middle) and Commissioner Ministry of East African Community, Ronah Serwadda (right) looks on during a press conference at the East African Sub- regional support Initiative, (EASSI) on 10/3/17. PHOTO BY JULIET KASIRYE
Women organizations in East Africa have asked regional heads of state to ratify a new law that seeks to provide guarantees for gender equality and protection of women from all forms of violence.
The Gender Equality and Development Act was passed by East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) on Women's Day. The law aims to advance gender equality and equity among EAC member states in economic, political, socio-economic and cultural aspects.
The Act mandates member states to uphold the right of every woman and man to life, personal dignity and integrity, and security of a person at all levels in their public and private lives.
Women organisations through their umbrella body, the East Africa Sub Regional Support Initiative, (EASSI), at a press briefing on Friday, implored the heads of state of the five EAC states to assent to the new law to protect women.
"Although the Act was passed, if it is not domesticated by Uganda and the member states-Tanzania, Rwanda, Kenya, Burundi and South Sudan, it will not help us," Marren Akatsa, the EASSI executive director said.
According to Akatsa, the Act it is intended to harmonise national laws of the EAC member states with regional and international standards of protection and promotion of gender and human rights, promote non-discrimination and gender in the processes of good governance for strengthened regional integration and sustainable development of the community.
The Chairperson EASSI, Christine Mbonyingingo said that EALA members passed the bill into an Act on the women's day as a gift in their honour.
"Since 2008, EASSI in partnership with women's rights alliance in the five partner states has been campaigning for an East African gender equality protocol. This later changed into a bill which was later tabled at the EALA by Hon. Nancy Abisai," added Mbonyingingo.
Commissioner Ministry of East African Community, Ronah Serwadda clarified that if the representatives pass the Act, it will be domesticated by individual states which will be in cooperated in their books of law.
"For easy implementation, EASSI has produced a pilot EAC gender barometer that will not only enhance citizen's participation in governance processes through critical information, but it will also act as a tool for holding governments accountable to their gender commitments," Akatsa said.
The deputy spokesperson Uganda government, Shaban Bantariza commended EALA for passing the legislation. He said, "When EALA passed the legislation, it facilitated Uganda to do better than it has already done in terms of promoting women's activities and programs."
According to Bantariza, Uganda is the best in supporting women's affairs on the continent. Basically, women are successful and more serious than the Youth who just make a lot of noise.
"I believe when heads of state meet, they will ratify the law," concluded Bantariza.