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Marren Akatsa-Bukachi

30 September 2005
I am the Executive Director of the Eastern African sub-regional support Initiative for Women (EASSI) based in Kampala Uganda. EASSI was formed in 1996 as a facility to monitor how governments in the sub region were implementing the Beijing Platforms for Action.

Before I joined EASSI in June 2004, I was a Programme Officer for Good Governance, Human Rights and later on Gender, at the Royal Netherlands Embassy in Nairobi. I joined the Embassy after working for four years as a civic educator with the Institute for Education in Democracy in Kenya. I mainly educated the youth on their rights and responsibilities, and trained election monitors.

Working at the embassy was tame compared to what I had been doing before and I began to feel restless as my activism could not be overtly displayed.  I wanted to be out in the field making a difference, not just disbursing funds and waiting for reports. In June 2004 I joined EASSI which is a woman focused organization. EASSI's work focuses on women's poverty at the household level and how this can be eradicated. The Millennium Development Goals look unreachable by 2015 unless they are scaled down to the household level where poverty is most acute.

Another area of concern for EASSI is conflict, and the lack of space for women's organizing. Our sub-region is replete with major and minor conflicts and bodies have been put up by governments to mediate conflicts. Women are not key players in these bodies yet they are the main victims during conflict situations.

Apart from that I am personally interested in women's political participation as a result of my experience in monitoring elections in Kenya, where women experienced both physical and verbal violence. I want to see women politicians recognised as political players and not 'women' political players. In a situation of insecurity many women will prefer not to play any role in politics whether as voters or as candidates.  I would like to see more of this subject debated.

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