Members of the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) have approved a new bill that seeks to promote gender equality and development. The lawmakers have recommended that Rwandas model be used to successfully implement this bill.
“President Paul Kagame told us that integration is our business and we should push and push till we get there. We can achieve the bill by learning from Rwanda where women secure 64% of seats in Rwandan parliamentary elections” Dora Byamukama (Uganda) said.
The bill proposed by Nancy Abisai (Kenya) in 2016, was today passed during fifth house seating held in Kigali.
President Paul Kagame on Monday officially opened the session which will take two weeks in Rwanda and urged regional lawmakers to strive for unity in the integration process.
According to EAC lawmakers, there is no problem with policies in member states but inefficiency in implementation causing more disconnection and continuous widening of gender gaps.
This new gender equality and development bill provides that whereas partner states recognize the importance of gender and have developed programs and enacted legislation in this pursuit, there is need to harmonise various commitments on gender equality at regional level.
Statistics presented to parliament indicate that only Rwanda has above 30 percent representation of women in leadership roles. Other states except Tanzania had below 30 percent but even in Tanzania women don’t hold an elected seat but a special seat.
Members of Eala also said that a bill without policy and monitoring and reporting system will only remain in words and ineffective.
A field report on various countries presented by Valerie Nyirahabineza (Rwanda) showed that many member states had difficulties in elaborating gender policies and implementation of international gender bills. The lag is owed to political will, lack of compliance and legislation.
Some lawmakers suggested that since Rwanda has made some tremendous steps in gender policy and implementation, other states should copy Rwanda to implement this new bill.
“We have existing gender models like gender monitoring offices in Rwanda which the EAC councils of ministers can adopt in other countries. We can choose to implement gender policies in primitive ways but such examples of successful processes are need in a long run,” said Martin Ngoga (Rwanda).
Establishment of functional legal systems, child and youth oriented structures such as national child forum in which children speak up about their views to leaders in Rwanda. EAC member states could also use this as a tool towards bridging the gender gaps, ending child marriages and female genital mutilation..
The final vote on the gender bill will be held during international women’s day March 8 and the speaker of Eala parliament Fred Kidega said that it would honour all women.
Though fully approved, some lawmakers insist that words should move into action and less political talk.
“It is not enough to pass the bill. let’s play our part and we will change the image of gender equality. This may take time for some countries but we have to act now” said Kirunda Kivejinja (Uganda).