Gender, equality bill in the offing

08Feb 2016
Our Reporter
The Guardian
Gender, equality bill in the offing

THE East African Gender Equality and Development Bill, 2016 sailed through the First Reading as the House sat over the weekend.

Foreign Affairs, Regional East African and International Cooperation, Augustine Mahiga

The object of the Bill is to make provision for gender equality, protection and development in the Community.

According to the mover of the Bill, Nancy Abisai, the partner states undertake in Article 6(d) of the Treaty for the Establishment of the EAC not to discriminate against any person on grounds of gender as one of the cornerstones of good governance, in addition to the principles of democracy, rule of law, accountability, social justice, equal opportunities as well as in the protection of human and people’s rights.

The Bill avers that women and men’s contribution in the integration process is fundamental as are the obligations of Partner States to their commitments under the various instruments and Protocols.

However, emerging threats resulting from HIV and AIDS, globalization and human trafficking of women, men and children as well as the feminization of poverty and gender based violence could impact negatively on their citizens.

The Bill contends that whereas the Partner States have over the years recognized the importance of gender equality and have developed programmes and enacted legislation in this pursuit, these efforts are at different levels and certain differences particular to each Partner State.

As a result, gender initiatives affect women, men and children differently across the EAC.

The Bill has been forwarded to the relevant Committee by the Assembly and it is expected that public hearings to collect views shall be undertaken.
Meanwhile, a bill on Anti-Corruption is in the offing. The Assembly has granted Abubakar Zein leave to introduce the EAC Integrity and Anti-Corruption Bill, 2016.

The leave was granted pursuant to the provisions of Article 59(1) of the Treaty and Rule 64 (1) of the Rules of Procedure of the Assembly.

The Bill seeks to outlaw corruption in the EAC and to introduce and inculcate values within the institutions and Organs of the Community. According to Zein, the Treaty and other instruments prohibit anti-corruption but at the moment the Community lacks legal framework to anchor integrity matters.

Rising in support of the motion was Hon Abdullah Mwinyi who said the piece of legislation was long overdue while Dora Byamukama called on the Partner States to support the key Bill and added that the Community also needs to finalise and operationalize related instruments which include the EAC Protocol on Preventing and Combating Corruption and that on Good Governance.

AbuBakr Ogle remarked that corruption continued to be an endemic problem in the region and called for the fast racking of the Bill.

Dora Byamukama noted that the Bill was coming hot on the heels of another, on the EAC Whistleblowers Protection Bill, 2016, moved by Margaret Nantongo Zziwa which also passed through the First Reading and has since been committed to the relevant Committee.

Similarly sailing through the First Reading is the EAC Retirement Benefits for Specified Heads of Organs Bill, 2016.

The Bill moved by Frederic Ngenzebuhoro makes provision for retirement benefits in respect of the former President of the EACJ, former Speaker of the EALA and former Secretary General of the EAC –specified leaders who have honourably served and completed their terms of service in the Community.