The East African Community (EAC) in collaboration with German Agency for International Co-operation (GIZ), East African Sub-Regional Support Initiative (EASSI) and Arusha Municipality have jointly organised a series of activities to mark Gender Week from today to Wednesday.
The event coincides with the World International Women’s Day marked on March 8 mid this week and linked to the United Nation’s Secretary General’s Campaign to End Violence Against Women (UNiTE) on the following day (March 9, this year).
“Especially during armed conflicts, gender-based violence is a deadly crime, a social menace, and a costly public health problem. Civilians, particularly women and children, account for the vast majority of those adversely affected by armed conflicts… as refugees and internally displaced persons.
“We all have to make concerted efforts to avert the violence through increased awareness to which this first EAC Gender Week will contribute,” said EAC deputy secretary-general in Charge of Productive and Social Sectors Jean Claude Nsengivumwa.
“This week-long event will bring to focus the critical need to engender our EAC policies and strategies,” he added.
International sports icon Ambassador Dr Tegla Loroupe of Kenya, a former two-time world record holder in women’s marathon, will be special guest during the event. Loroupe is well known in the region as a firm activist against women and children violence.
She has, among others, reformed a significant number of armed warring cattle rustlers in Northern Kenya, South Sudan, North-Eastern Uganda and Ethiopia and is famed for having brought considerable peace to these troubled- areas which has won her numerous regional and international awards.
Among the highlights of the activities is a workshop to sensitise EAC staff on how to mainstream gender in their programmes and activities on Monday March 5.
Other activities have been organised separately at the Arusha International Conference Centre and Police Officers’ Mess. These include workshops and exhibitions featuring posters, photos, video shows, books and factsheets, among others.
On March 8, the International Women’s Day, a procession has been arranged from the city centre to the Arusha Municipal Hall and will climax with speeches from various dignitaries.
On 9 March, participants will attend a workshop on UNiTe Campaign to end violence against women and girls.
The GIZ Programme Manager for Promotion of Peace and Security, Miriam Heidtmann, said: “The equality of women and men is an integral part of GIZ’s corporate culture,” adding that GIZ has a long-standing tradition of gender mainstreaming.
She also noted that the annual event constantly updated gender strategy based on the assumption that development would only be sustainable if women and men benefit equally from political, economic, social and cultural development, and if they fully exploit their potentials.
Recent ‘EAC Gender Audit’ has acknowledged the EAC–GIZ Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) component as a best- practice for gender mainstreaming in EAC programmes.
“By sharing the practical experiences of gender mainstreaming during the EAC-GIZ-EASSI gender week 2012, we hope that the EAC-GIZ ‘Peace and Security’ programme will serve as an inspiration and example for other EAC projects,” the GIZ programme manager said.