Gender inequalities have been blamed for the slowdown in the East African Community integration process.
The EAC Deputy Secretary General responsible for productive and social sectors Christophe Bazivamo said that gender inequality prevents women from contributing effectively to development.
“There is poor representation of women in employment and in politics,” he said during the promulgation of the EAC Gender Policy in Arusha recently.
“If women had equal access to production resources as men, they would increase yields on their farms by 20 to 30 per cent,” said Dr Kirsten Focken, the cluster co-ordinator for German development support to the EAC through GIZ.
Last year, Eala passed the EAC Gender Equality and Equity Bill to boost observance and practice of gender equality in the region. Of the 64 regional House members, 25 are women.
The EAC Gender Policy identifies 14 key priority actions that it believes will also promote gender equality and equity within laws, policies, programmes and projects of the community, if applied.
The actions are meant to address gender concerns in governance and participation, education and training, health and HIV and Aids, gender-based violence, environment and climate change, and energy.
Other concerns are in agriculture, food security and nutrition; trade and economic empowerment; security, peace building and conflict resolution; mining and extractive industries; access to safe water, sanitation and housing and migration.
“Insecure land rights reduce women’s ability to pledge the land as collateral for loans,” said Dr Focken, adding that female farmers were less likely to invest in their land or to adopt efficient agricultural practices if they were uncertain of reaping the benefits in the long term.