Posted by: africanpressorganization | 28 July 2011

Rwanda to host EAC conference on women in business / Conference to lay foundation for regional microfinance scheme for women



Rwanda to host EAC conference on women in business / Conference to lay foundation for regional microfinance scheme for women


ARUSHA, Tanzania, July 28, 2011/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The East African Community will hold a regional Conference on Women in Socio-economic Development and Women in Business from 5-6 August 2011, at the Kigali Serena Hotel in Kigali, Rwanda.


The Conference themed Unlocking Business Opportunities for Women within an EAC Common Market will bring together women entrepreneurs from the East African region delegates from Partner States’ Ministries of EAC, Trade, Finance and Gender and Development. Also expected are representatives of the East African Business Council and Members of the East African Legislative Assembly.


EAC Deputy Secretary General in charge of Productive and Social Sectors, Mr. Jean Claude Nsengiyumva says the role of women in boosting social and economic development of the Community needs to be enhanced through entrepreneurship and trade across the region.


“Women constitute over 60 per cent of the EAC population, hence the need to have them fully participate in the regional integration process and be informed of all steps being undertaken by the Community through policies, programmes and projects aimed at enhancing their wellbeing,” says Mr. Nsengiyumva.


The two-day forum is expected to lay the foundation for a regional microfinance scheme for women while conference participants are also expected to make robust proposals in forging an EAC Women Entrepreneurs Association, which will champion the interests of women in business in the region.


The East African Community Customs Union and Common Market integration phases have opened up borders and unlocked opportunities for East Africans to freely move across the borders as persons or workers, establish themselves as self-employed persons and trade in the service sectors in the region.


The Conference on Women in Socio-Economic Development and Women in Business will be an opportunity for women to come together and share experiences and best practices from exemplary legal and socio-political systems that have gained acclaim for championing, enforcing and attaining the rights of and for women.


Considering that women constitute the major segment of the annual exhibition Jua Kali/ Nguvu Kazi organised by East African Community in collaboration with the East African Confederation of Informal Sector Association, the main aim of the Community therefore is to empower East African women and help them move beyond the informal trade regime and become key actors in cross border trade.


Kigali-based journalists interested in covering this event are requested to register with the EAC Media Centre by 2 August 2011. Limited slots available. More information is available on the conference website:


Background Information


Under the provisions of Article 121 of the Treaty for the Establishment of the East African Community, the Partner States undertake to enhance the role of women in socio- economic development.


The Partner States recognise that women make a significant contribution towards the process of economic transformation and sustainable growth and that it is impossible to implement effective programs for the economic and social development of the Partner States without the full participation of women.


To this end, the Partner States committed themselves to, through appropriate legislative and other measures to, among other things:


–    promote the empowerment and effective integration and participation of women at all levels of socio-economic development especially in decision-making;


–    abolish legislation and discourage customs that are discriminatory against women;

promote effective education awareness programmes aimed at changing negative attitudes towards women;


–    create or adopt technologies which will ensure the stability of employment and professional progress for women workers; and


–    take such other measures that shall eliminate prejudices against women and promote the equality of the female gender with that of the male gender in every respect.


Furthermore, Article 122 provides for enhancement of the role of women in business where Partner States recognise the importance of women as a vital economic link between agriculture, industry and trade. Therefore, EAC Partner States have undertaken to:


–    increase the participation of women in business at the policy formulation and implementation levels;


–    promote special programmes for women in small, medium and large scale enterprises; eliminate all laws, regulations and practises that hinder women’s access to financial assistance including credit;


–    initiate changes in educational and training strategies to enable women to improve their technical and industrial employment levels through the acquisition of transferable skills offered by various forms of vocational and on-the-job training schemes; and


–    recognise and support the national and regional associations of women in business established to promote the effective participation of women in the trade and development activities of the Community.


Articles 127, 128 and 129 of the Treaty reflect the willingness of the Partner States to provide an enabling environment for the private sector and the civil society to take full advantage of the Community. As an important constituent of the civil society, the role of women has also to be viewed in the broader political context as captured under the above articles of the EAC Treaty.



East African Community (EAC)


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