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Published: September 7, 2022
In the past decade countries in East Africa have made strides in advancing the rights of women. The social political and economic status of women have improved for example. There is an increase in the number of women holding political positions reflected in the number of women representatives in parliament: Tanzania is at 37%, South Sudan 29%, Uganda at 34%, Kenya at 20%, and Ethiopia 39% women parliamentary representatives.
Despite this macro progress in advancing gender inequality in the region, East Africa still grapples with gender inequalities deeply rooted in structures that undermine the development of women and girls especially at the local levels. Gender inequalities still remain high in income and opportunities with women and girls having unequal opportunities for formal education and unequal platforms for participation and leadership.
Our partners who target the most vulnerable population comprising of mainly smallholder farmers, women, children and people with disabilities have reported that their achievements are undermined and eroded by the highly structured gender inequalities in the communities. Moreover, their programmings have not deliberately made attempts to address gender inequality challenges.
Partners shared that while governments in the region have great policies on advancing gender and development, women and girls remain at the periphery in this development equilibrium. For example in a typical smallholder household in Tanzania, the decision to spend the proceeds from agriculture lies majorly in the hands of the household heads who are mainly men, who are also key perpetrators of domestic violence.
Aware of the need to strengthen the capacity of our partners to be key agents in advancing gender equality within their program areas, and the focus by the Austrian Development Agency (ADA) to advance gender equality in the next framework 2023-2026, as well as our commitment towards the realization of SDG 5, the HORIZONT3000 Regional Office in East Africa (ROEA) through the KNOWHOW3000 program organized 5 days gender sensitive and responsive training for all ADA framework partners and ROEA staff to strengthen their capacity to develop, implement and monitor gender sensitive and responsive projects.
The Gender sensitive and responsive programming training took place in each of the ROEA focus countries that is Uganda (18 participants), Kenya (4 Participants) and Tanzania (16 participants) in the month of March 2022 with over 38 participants. The 18 participants in Uganda came from YARD, AFIRD, Caritas Tororo, Caritas MADDO, Caritas Mityana, Uganda Women’s Network and staff from ROEA. The 4 participants from Kenya came from PACIDA and Diocese of Lodwar, while the 16 participants from Tanzania came from ADP Mbozi, CHEMA, OWSL, HAKIARDHI, MHOLA, WODSTA, HLDD Rulenge and FIDE.
Since the training coincided with the development of project proposals for the new ADA framework 2023-2026, which puts emphasis on strengthening gender equality, the three consultants in each of the countries were tasked to follow up each of the partners through coaching, enabling them to develop gender sensitive project proposals.
The training covered a number of gender focused topics which included introduction to gender equality, gender responsive planning and programming, understanding of the Do No Harm principle, development of gender responsive indicators and gender responsive monitoring.
Some of the participants in Uganda and Tanzania were attending the gender training for the first time while others had been trained before but expressed lack of adequate know-how in gender responsive programming. At the bottom line the training evaluation revealed that there is a lot that was learned and there is much to learn in relation not only to gender responsive programming but in advancing gender equality in general.
We note from the reactions of the participants across 3 East African countries that gender inequality continues to undermine their efforts to alleviate poverty and there is zeal by partners to start the process of bridging the gender gap. The Action plans from the partners after the training show the willingness and readiness to work towards gender equal communities. We have started on this process by offering capacity building in gender sensitive programming through this training, we shall continue to make concerted efforts through advocacy, training and encouraging partners to plan and advance programs that enhance the rights of women at all levels.