Gender inequality in the East Africa region is manifest at all levels: in the social spheres, at the domestic level, and in public institutions. Gender based violence is particularly problematic. While there has been increased representation of women in politics – Rwanda leads the world in women’s representation in parliament at 61.4%, progress has been uneven.
Until recently there was a lack of harmonized policies and legislation to deal with gender inequality across the region. But in March 2017, the EAC Gender Equality and Development Act (also called the Gender Bill) was passed by the East Africa Legislative Assembly. While the Act awaits to be assented to by the Heads of States and to take effect nationally, there is a clear need for a harmonised framework for action, to track success, and to make cross-national comparisons.
The Eastern African Sub-regional Support Initiative for the Advancement of Women (EASSI) is monitoring the implementation of the Gender Bill at both the regional and national level to gauge progress toward gender equality.
EASSI is a civil society network working through National Focal Point member organisations in eight countries of the region: Burundi, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Somalia, Tanzania and Uganda. Its Secretariat is based in Uganda.
The Commonwealth Foundation has supported EASSI’s advocacy on the Gender Bill by enabling interaction between EASSI and members of the East African Legislative Assembly. The project also includes the development of a gender barometer which will provide an annual report that assesses progress of government’s actions, such as formulating policies that remove gender based discrimination, guaranteeing women’s rights, and providing the necessary services for the realisation of these commitments. These actions require financial resources, institutional mechanisms and accountability frameworks that should be integrated in national plans and budgets.
Citizens views on government performance are a fundamental component of the barometer that integrates the use of a ‘Citizen Score Card’. The barometer offers evidence based information for holding governments accountable to their gender commitments.
Availability and utilisation of monetary resources play a central role in the realisation of the right to health in Kenya. Resources allocated to health need to be utilised in an accountable and transparent manner, thus ensuring that everybody, especially the most vulnerable, can access health services.
Kenya Legal and Ethical Issues Network on HIV & AIDS (KELIN) is building a network of knowledgeable civil society organisations (CSOs) Community Based Organisations (CBOs), the media and communities of persons affected by HIV and TB to monitor the implementation of the right to health commitments, including the availability and utilisation of resources allocated to health at county and national level. This includes participation in health planning processes at county level and the development of communications to inform stakeholders on health issues. KELIN is also facilitating constructive engagement between the network and decision makers, such as government officials at county level, to advocate for measures that can promote greater transparency and accountability in the health sector.
This project builds on the “Influencing HIV Policy in Kenya” project funded by the Commonwealth Foundation from July 2013 – June 2016. The project established and built the capacity of networks in key target counties to engage in local governance processes for enhanced and inclusive delivery of health services.
Through the proposed project these networks will be expanded and further strengthened to monitor the implementation of the right to health. Network members are closely involved in the planning, implementation and monitoring of the project in order to promote ownership.
By the end of the project, network members will have acquired skills and experience to enable them to continue to monitor the implementation of the right to health commitments in the long term.
KELIN is a Kenyan civil society organisation working to protect and promote health-related rights in Kenya by: advocating for integration of human rights principles in laws, policies and administrative frameworks; facilitating access to justice in respect of violations of health related rights; and developing the capacities of civil society organisations and groups working to promote the right to health. KELIN has been at the forefront in advocating for increased public participation in governance processes relating to the health sector, including policy making and legislation review, in Kenya. The organisation has experience of participating in the development of policies and legislation relating to health in Kenya, including the Health Act 2017 and the Reproductive Health Bill 2015.
Equal rights for children and young people with disabilities, although recognised in Kenya, need to be strengthened through engagement between policy makers and civil society.
AbleChildAfrica is working with disabled peoples’ organisations and civil society organisations to improve the rights of Children with Disabilities (CWDs) in Kenya.
In partnership with Action Network for Disabled (ANDY), AbleChildAfrica is forming a coalition of child focused civil society organisations (CSOs) and disabled peoples’ organisations (DPOs) to work with government officials, and to deliver a public campaign that will enhance government and the public awareness of child focused disability rights. AbleChildAfrica is developing the coalition’s ability to advocate for the rights of children with disabilities, facilitating meetings between coalition members and government officials, and developing evidence based reports of policy recommendations for policy makers.
By the end of the project, it is expected that effective public campaigns and engagement between policy makers and the coalition will lead to the implementation of policies that strengthen the rights of children with disabilities.
AbleChildAfrica is a UK based charity working with and alongside partner organisations in Africa to achieve equal rights for children and young people with disabilities. AbleChildAfrica works in partnership to provide direct services such as education and health, and engages in advocacy and influencing working in the UK and internationally. www.ablechildafrica.org
Action Network for Disabled (ANDY)
Action Network for Disabled (ANDY) works to promote the equality, inclusion and empowerment of young people with disabilities in Kenya. ANDY supports young people with disabilities to become involved in development and decision-making processes. It facilitates their socio-economic empowerment by involving them in small scale self-sustainable projects. www.ablechildafrica.org/our-partners/kenya-partner
Right to information (RTI) is a key tool for guaranteeing a number of human rights, particularly economic and social rights. Building the Kenyan government’s capacity to share information, and improving civil society’s understanding of and ability to use the Access To Information (ATI) Act in the public interest is recognised as a necessity.
In partnership with Katiba Institute (KI), Kenya, the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI), India, will support civil society and government in the implementation of the ATI Act in Kenya.
The project is working with civil society organisations to raise awareness of right to information, emphasising the value of accessing information held by public authorities. It is also supporting Kenyan government officials in developing an RTI implementation plan.
Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative is facilitating an exchange between Indian civil society, government representatives and their Kenyan counterparts. This exercise in South-to South collaboration will utilise India’s experience, in implementing a similar law since 2005.
Endorsed project title: Building civil society organisations’ capacity to advocate for Right to Information
Photo: Flickr CC dilettantiquity
Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative
The Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, India works to promote the practical realisation of human rights in Commonwealth countries focuses on building and reforming systems of governance, essential for the protection and promotion of human rights. CHRI played the lead role in successfully advocating for the adoption of RTI laws in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, the Cayman Islands, Guyana, the Maldives, Malta, Pakistan and Sri Lanka www.humanrightsinitiative.org
Katiba Institute (KI), Kenya, established in 2011, is a constitutional research, policy and litigation institute focused on the implementation of Kenya’s 2010 Constitution and the development of a culture of constitutionalism in Kenya. KI has experience of working with CHRI to advocate for the adoption of a strong right to information law in Kenya. www.katibainstitute.org