ACFODE participated in a Regional Gender Equality Conference themed “Affirmative Action and the Role of Men in Enhancing Gender Equality and Women Empowerment in East Africa.”
The Conference, which was presided over by Hon. Sophia M. Simba, Minister for Gender Tanzania, took place from the 25th to the 26th of September 2014 at Mt. Meru Hotel in Arusha Tanzania. It brough together gender equality stakeholders from East Africa including policy makers, legislators, political party representatives, civil society organizations and academic institutions.
The event was organized by We Effect in partnership with ACFODE, GROOTs Kenya, MEGEN Kenya, TAWLA Tanzania, and NAWOU.
Infotainment: pupils share their perspectives on gender in a role play during the conference
Predominately, it focused on the status of Affirmative Action in the Eastern African Region. Whereas most participants saw it as positive discrimination that has helped correct certain injustices against vulnerable groups including women, who suffer for reasons not of their own making, others regarded it as a biased practice.
Thus, on Day one (1) participants discussed the role of politics in supporting women’s participation, and the involvement of men and youth in the pursuit for gender equality; whereas on Day two (2) they focused more on male champion experiences, and experience sharing by participants from the region.
Gallery Walk: participants visit ACFODE’s exhibition stall
What stood out strongly at the Conference was that “Gender Equality is not a Privilege but a Right.” Also, it was observed that engaging men and boys in gender equality is key; because women alone cannot achieve it without men and boys’ cooperation and participation.
“Men as community, political or religious leaders often control access to most resources. As heads of state and government ministers, as leaders of religious and faith-based institutions, as judges, as heads of armies and other agencies of force, as village heads, or indeed as husbands and fathers, they often wield enormous power over many aspects of women’s lives. It’s therefore important that they are involved in all initiatives that are geared towards making gender equality a reality,” shared one of the participants.
Ugandan team strategizing on the way forward
The event ended in much vitality, with country teams strategizing on the way forward. For Uganda specifically, a coalition titled “Gender Equality Uganda” was formed. Its objective is to collaborate with men and boys, youths, educators, parents, activists and policy makers to raise awareness about the impact of Affirmative Action in Uganda, and work towards achieving gender equality in all areas of life for Ugandan women and girls, as well as men and boys.
Public Relations & Communications Specialist