East Africa Leads In Gender Reforms

By Victor Kiprop

east africa reforms

East African states are among countries that have been recognised by the World Bank for leading in the world’s gender equality campaign through eradication of legal barriers against women.

A new World Bank report released last week on Thursday found that Kenya, Tanzania, DR Congo and Zambia implemented the most reforms to remove legal barriers to women’s economic inclusion in the past two years.

According to the Women, Business and the Law 2018 report, the four African nations collectively implemented 13 reforms out of a total 34 reforms carried out throughout sub-Saharan Africa, which accounted for one-third of all reforms carried out globally.

“Progress in sub-Saharan Africa is encouraging. Despite myriad challenges facing the region, many governments are working to rescind laws — often holdovers from the colonial era — that discriminate against women,” said Sarah Iqbal, programme manager of the Women, Business and the Law project.

Domestic violence law

Kenya was lauded for its 2016 domestic violence law, which protects family members, current and former spouses and partners from physical, sexual, psychological and economic abuse; improved access to credit information by distributing data from two utility companies that report positive and negative payment information and provision of legal aid in civil matters.

“Tanzania has made primary education both free and compulsory, and its new Legal Aid Act allows for legal aid in civil proceedings, in addition, improving access to credit information by distributing data from retailers,” the report said.

Zambia was lauded for its 2015 Gender Equity and Equality Act, which prohibits gender discrimination in employment; the establishment of the Gender Equality Commission; development of civil remedies for sexual harassment in the workplace and the prohibition of discrimination based on gender and marital status by creditors in financial transactions.

The report also recognised DR Congo’s adjustment to the family code to allow married women to sign contracts, get jobs, open bank accounts and register businesses in the same way as married men.


Despite the progress, protecting women against violence remains a challenge as 19 of the World’s 45 economies with no laws against domestic violence are in sub-Saharan Africa.

Europe and Central Asia led in the removal of legal barriers to gender equality with 15 reforms implemented, followed by sub-Saharan Africa with 13 and East Asia and the Pacific, which implemented 11 reforms.

According to the World Economic Forum’s 2017 Global Gender Gap Index, Burundi and Rwanda were ranked among the only 13 countries in the world that have closed more than 80 per cent in their economic participation and opportunity gender gap.

Source: allafrica.com

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