Gender issues, particularly with respect to women's status and rights, have for a considerable period, been in the forefront of donors' dialogue on social issues with Africa. While Africa countries have fully acknowledged the seriousness of the issues and the urgent need for action, the dialogue has been largely donor-driven and issues and priorities been donor-set. Recognizing the need for a new approach in this important area for Africa's progress, the Bank, in collaboration with the Economic Commission for Africa, initiated a Gender and Law Program, in October 1997, at a Conference held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The Program shifts responsibility for identification and implementation of themes, issues, and priorities to in-country stakeholders rather than with donors. During the Conference, each country delegation voiced its priorities for change. The issues included land-related challenges, family law, violence against women, employment and labor, and decentralized governance frameworks. Land and the division of household property are prime areas where gender-based disparities marginalize and disenfranchise women of Eastern Africa. In an effort to improve women's social and economic life, two main themes emerged: the impact of customary laws and practices and the need for effective implementation. The delegates emphasized the need to initiate action for change at grassroots, institutional, and policy making levels.