What inequality looks like

Eastern Africa is one of the fastest-growing regions in the world. But the advantages of this growth do not reach all people. Millions are excluded from key institutions and opportunities that should be open to all. This inequity is perhaps most deeply felt in the region’s imbalanced distribution of resources, limited prospects for employment, and lack of leadership opportunities for women and young people.

Political and economic power has long been built around individuals, families, and networks rather than around public institutions. But to address the region’s challenges, these institutions must become responsive and accountable to all East Africans. For this to happen, civil society and the public must have opportunities to participate in decision making and to work in partnership with government to better their societies.

Answering inequality with justice

Our work is rooted in the belief that East Africans can realize their own vision of a just, equitable, democratic, and peaceful region. And there is much to build on: Progressive reforms and constitutional democracies have taken root. New laws guarantee civil and human protections. There are fresh opportunities for women and youth to take part in building stronger and more inclusive political, social, and economic systems and in creating new spaces for participation and dialogue. Civil society movements and groups have played significant roles as drivers of this change, bringing the promise of democracy closer to the region than ever before.

But we know that this promise can be fulfilled only when government works to improve the lives of the region’s most disadvantaged people. At all levels, government must serve the broad public interest and ensure that everyone is treated equally under the law. Governments that truly work for the people will expand opportunities for women and youth. They will make sure that all the region’s people have access to sustainable livelihoods and benefit from public and natural resources. And they will work to uphold people’s ability to express themselves freely and reach their full potential.