International Women's Day Celebrations at EAC
East African Community Secretariat; Arusha, Tanzania; 09 March 2017:
The East African Community (EAC) women led by Hon. Jesca Eriyo, Deputy Secretary General in charge of Finance and Administration (DSG F&A), yesterday participated in a colorful march to the local market in Arusha; ‘Soko Kuu’ in commemoration of the International Women’s Day (IWD). Other key EAC women representatives among the front-liners of the march included the Director of Social Sectors; Mary Makoffu and the Principal Human Resource Officer; Ruth Simba
The march also brought together a broad spectrum of women stakeholders from various organizations such as women and men in support of women from EAC, Germany International Cooperation Agency (GIZ), the International Labor Organization (ILO), the Arusha Municipal Council, Women’s Organizations, Vision for Youth representatives as well as secondary school students from the International School of Moshi and Arusha Day Secondary School.
The market march orchestrated by the Tanzanian Army Brass Band based in Monduli, Arusha, was organized by EAC and the Arusha Municipal Council in collaboration with GIZ and ILO, in a bid to offer material support aimed at improving the working conditions of the market cleaners who are mostly women.
On arrival at the market, participants engaged in a cleaning exercise of the market’s environs before officially handing over the purchased cleaning equipment to the market’s management. Witnessing this were Council representatives including Acting City Director; Mariam Kimolo and the Ward Councilor; Abdulrasul Tojo.
Speaking briefly at the market, Hon. Jesca Eriyo urged women to work towards taking up leadership positions at the work place, noting that there are very few women worldwide in top positions within the labor force. She also called for men’s support of women not only at the workplace but the society at large and highly commended those present at the event for taking time to participate in the IWD celebrations.
On behalf of the market businesswomen was Mariam Okashi who particularly thanked EAC and GIZ for their generous support in not only providing cleaning equipment but for having a bigger picture in mind: a clean and safe working environment for the market vendors as well, both men and women.
Participants marched back to the EAC headquarters where they gathered for the official IWD celebrations. Gracing this momentous occasion as Guest of Honor was the East African Court of Justice Judge President; His Lordship Hon. Dr. Emmanuel Ugirashebuja.
In her official opening remarks at the event, Hon. Jesca Eriyo highlighted that IWD can be an important catalyst and vehicle for driving greater change for women and moving closer to gender parity bearing in mind, article 5(e) in the EAC Treaty which stipulates gender mainstreaming in all its endeavors and enhancement of the role of women in cultural, social, political, economic and technological development, whereas articles 121 and 122 emphasize the role of women in socio economic development and in Business. She also encouraged men to support women at the workplace by creating a conducive environment for them to thrive and fully unleash their potential.
This year’s IWD campaign theme is Be Bold for Change with a focus on ‘Women in the Changing World of Work, Planet 50-50 in 2030. The theme aims at encouraging effective action for advancing and recognizing women in all aspects of life.
The theme was developed in cognizance that the global understanding of work is changing with significant implications on the day to day lives of women. While in most parts of the world, women have made tremendous progress in building competencies to access decent work, there exists huge inequalities, informality of labor, violence and environmental impacts in other societies.
Also addressing participants at the official opening was the GIZ Deputy Programme Manager; Kirsten Focken, who began by stating that ‘the presence of both men and women at the event was a symbol of unity, support and solidarity to the gender parity and equality campaign which is reinforced by the commemoration of IWD at EAC”.
She particularly emphasized GIZ’s support towards women in small scale cross-border trade adding that this is what triggered the development of the Simplified Guide for Micro and Small Scale Women Cross Border Traders and Service Providers within EAC.
Delivering the keynote address was the ILO Director-East Africa Office; Mary Kawar. She commended EAC for its efforts this year in engaging women at different capacities at the event to consolidate their efforts towards this year’s IWD theme. She also challenged EAC to set labor standards, develop policies and devise programmes promoting decent work for women for them to thrive in the work place within the region, reiterating; “…for women to have equal opportunities, they have to be protected by laws”.
Presiding over the official IWD celebrations was East African Business Council Executive Director; Lilian Awinja, East African Sub-regional Support Initiative (EASSI) Director; Marren Akatsa-Bukachi, who gave a motivational talk at the event and the East African Women in Business Platform (EAWiBP) Coordinator; Nancy Gitonga.
EAWiBP brings together business and professional women from across the EAC region. The Platform is taking proactive steps to increase women’s participation in intra – EAC trade, EAC integration process and economic empowerment. EAWiBP works towards achieving its goals through policy advocacy and by linking business women to skills, information, markets, capital and technical assistance.
The programme also included presentations on opportunities for Women in the EAC-Case Studies of the Incubator for Integration and Development in East Africa women projects.At the closing, the Director of Social Sectors; Mary Makoffu was pleased to give a vote of thanks to all the participants at the event on behalf of EAC and later, together with the Hon. Jesca Eriyo and the ILO and GIZ representatives, officiated the launch of the Simplified Guide for Micro and Small Scale Women Cross Border Traders and Service Providers within the EAC for dissemination.
International Women’s Day is annually held on March 8 to celebrate women’s achievements throughout history and across nations. It is also known as the United Nations (UN) Day for Women’s Rights and International Peace.
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The East African Community (EAC) is a regional intergovernmental organisation of five Partner States, comprising Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda, with its headquarters in Arusha, Tanzania.
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