The EAC Treaty stresses that regional integration and development should be people-centred and participatory. To this end, broad participation of key stakeholders including women, the youth, private sector and the civil society is needed. Partner States must create an enabling environment for these stakeholders to thrive. Especially women, despite constituting over 60% of the EAC population, are still marginalised in decision-making processes and often have limited access to education, finance, information and communication technologies in comparison to their male counterparts. In order to address these challenges, Partner States have begun enacting and implementing different policies and legal frameworks. EAC-GIZ supports the EAC in adopting common approaches towards the inclusive engagement of civil society in the EAC integration process, including marginalised groups such as women, children, youth, elderly and differently abled persons, with the aim of employment creation, poverty reduction, women’s empowerment and improving working conditions.
Gender equality is a major guiding principle of the EAC for achieving sustainable development. For this reason, gender inclusion is promoted in the EAC integration process. This is of paramount importance for attaining the Community’s broader objective of market-driven and people-centred EAC socio-economic development and integration. Emphasis on gender equality is crucial as it helps the different sectors to draft and implement policies and identify gaps in the legal regime that need to be addressed. It contributes to an inclusive, stable and just development that is based on the protection and promotion of human rights, equal opportunities, non-discrimination, and participation regardless of gender. Finally, it also ensures that the EAC integration process is aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals set by the United Nations in 2015 to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all.
Objective: Gender equality is promoted throughout the EAC integration process.
Approach: SEAMPEC supports the participation of women in the economic integration through joint activities with the EAC Secretariat Gender Department. For example, EAC-GIZ provides technical and financial support to innovative projects that target youth and women entrepreneurs in the implementation of the EAC Common Market through IIDEA and IRTF initiatives. In addition, SEAMPEC supports advocacy initiatives of private sector organisations that strengthen the economic participation of women entrepreneurs in intra-EAC trade. The programme also facilitated internal mainstreaming measures geared towards strengthening awareness creation on gender equality such as:
Find more information on SEAMPEC here.
Small-scale, informal cross-border trade within the EAC creates an estimated value of 2 billion USD annually, contributing substantially to the economy of the region. About 80% of it is carried out by women cross-border traders. Most of them are restricted in their activities due to lack of information on trade regulations and safety issues which renders them vulnerable to harassment when crossing border points. This reduces their trading power and income. Still, women engaged in EAC cross-border trade contribute to poverty reduction, improve family welfare as well as income and mitigate the impact of conflict and violence by creating employment, thus enhancing income and food security for their families and communities. Therefore, increased awareness of women in cross-border trade of their rights and their increased participation in trade in the region is crucial for EAC integration and the future economic development. EAC-GIZ specifically focuses on working with women and youth cross-border traders in a bid to break down barriers to their trade and create business opportunities. Through funding grants and creating networks for sharing experiences to help with training and product development, 12,000 women have taken up formal cross-border businesses, overcome cross-border challenges and earned income for their families. Awareness about regional trade procedures and requirements allows them to trade easily and profitably across East Africa.
Objective: Innovative EAC integration stories are showcased with the objective of raising citizen-awareness about the benefits of integration and highlight the realities of integration. Projects addressing women cross-border traders show the tangible benefits that the EAC Common Market provides for the EAC’s people.
Approach: IIDEA and IRTF provide funds for small-scale projects supporting women cross-border traders to make use of the opportunities that the Common Market Protocol offers to them in their day-to-day trading activities across border posts. Additionally, IIDEA and IRTF-funded projects enhance women traders marketing skills and help them to get real-time reliable information about commodity prices, money exchange rates and train them on the required customs regulations and procedures. Border officials are involved in the projects wherever possible to improve the relationship and make them aware of the needs and plights of women traders.
Examples of supported projects:
Find more information on IIDEA and IRTF as part of the SEAMPEC programme here.