Use gender-sensitive trade policy making to improve women's welfare, EAC urged

Nairobi, Kenya (PANA) - East African nations can harness their trade policies to help empower women economically in the region, thanks to improvements in education, employment and other key areas.

This is according to new research released in Nairobi on Wednesday by the United Nations and funded by The Netherlands through TradeMark East Africa.

Titled East African Community Regional Integration: Trade and Gender Implications, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) analyses the impact of East African Community (EAC) regional integration on women's well-being in five of the six EAC countries.

UNCTAD also released an advocacy document entitled: "Advocating for gender-sensitive trade policymaking in the East African Community," which makes concrete recommendations to better guide trade policies to the benefit of women across the bloc, based on the findings of the report.

Embedded with specific objectives and monitoring indicators, UNCTAD’s recommendations target eight areas, besides education and employment

Also targeted are they look at access to resources, the unpaid care and domestic work burden, and decision-making, together with gender policy at the national and regional level, and gender mainstreaming in trade policy.

“This new analysis is another UNCTAD contribution to the debate on how we, together, can make trade policy more gender-sensitive, and pave the way for more inclusive prosperity that leaves no one behind,” said UNCTAD Secretary-General Mukhisa Kituyi.

Trademark East Africa Chief Executive Officer, Frank Matsaert, said: “We will continue facilitating women’s empowerment through support of delivery of practical solutions to challenges that affect women entrepreneurs who trade across borders in East Africa.”

The report looks at gender and trade issues in five countries of the EAC – Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, the United Republic of Tanzania and Uganda - given that the sixth member state, South Sudan, only joined recently.

It assesses the impact of regional integration on women’s well-being, with a focus on women’s employment.

It also underlines the importance of putting in place policies to address gender inequalities and ensure that women fully benefit from international trade.

“The analytical work in this report is accompanied by practical ideas,” explained Dr. Kituyi.

Among the key recommendations are closing the gender gap in secondary and tertiary education and putting in place skill development programmes to enable women to match what is needed to work in higher value-added sectors.

A regional credit mechanism could be established to support women entrepreneurs across EAC countries since existing country-level mechanisms have proved insufficient and not uniform.

Gender chapters could be included in any future free trade agreements the region will engage in. UNCTAD experts recommend the establishment of a regional platform to exchange best practices among EAC member countries.

There should be a uniform monitoring tool to check the implementation of the 2017 EAC Gender Equality and Development Bill, an important piece of regional legislation on gender equality.

Home to 150 million people, the EAC was founded in 2000 by Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. Rwanda and Burundi joined in 2007, and South Sudan in 2016.

The UNCTAD report examines the impact of regional integration and overall trade openness on women’s employment patterns.

Tariff liberalization in the EAC export markets led to an increase in women’s employment share in manufacturing firms in Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda.

In Burundi, women workers were negatively affected. Production workers –  those performing simple tasks such as maintenance and assembly line work – benefited the most, with little improvement for women in white-collar jobs.
-0- PANA DJ/MA 9May2018

09 may 2018 11:55:41




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