Uk High Commissioner to Kenya, Nic Hailey, was one of the guests marking International Women’s Day at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre yesterday (8 March). International Women’s Day is a worldwide event that celebrates women’s achievements – from the political to the social – while calling for gender equality.
At the event, First Lady of Kenya, Margaret Kenyatta, called on women to use their influence to spread peace and progress in the country.
“Rape, FGM and domestic violence all remain a very real, daily threat to many women in Kenya and Africa,” Margaret said, adding that women, girls and children were targeted as vulnerable members of society.
The First Lady also used the celebrations to launch the Strategic National Action Plan for the Kenyan women, which is aligned to the United Nations Security Resolution 1325, and calls for inclusiveness, better coordination, accountability and participation from key stakeholders in the area of peace.
Highlighting that 50 per-cent of Kenya’s population is made up of women, the First Lady pointed out that the actions of women, measurable and immeasurable, hold up half of the society of this country and hence the need to involve them in peace building initiatives.
“These women wield incredible power – As wives and child bearers, mothers, leaders, decision makers and workers. They build homes, bring in incomes, educate children, and silently influence community decisions.” – First Lady, Margaret Kenyatta.
The First Lady added that women always seek peace first whenever there are threats of strife and encourage reconciliation where divisions arise.
She singled out athlete Tegla Lorupe and nominated Senator Naisula Lesuuda who have played a crucial role in spearheading peace in Pokot and Samburu communities respectively.
“We recognise civil society leaders, government agencies and the international community like the UN and the EU who work collectively to lead peace building efforts that have transformed the conditions of suffering at both individual and collective levels. I am proud of you all, as you work towards a more inclusive society.” – First Lady Margaret Kenyatta.
Cecily Mbarire, chairperson of the Kenya Women Parliamentary Association and MP for Runyenjes used the event to urge women to run for top posts, like governor.
Gender Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki described the journey to gender equality as being “long and rough”, saying she believes deeper partnership and collaboration are needed to support more women in social, political and economic spaces.
“In education, free learning has helped us achieve near parity of girls and boys in school”
– Gender Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki.
The Cabinet Secretary added that in economic empowerment, the government had introduced Uwezo, with Ksh 22 billion having been paid out to youth and women through the Youth Fund.
Through the Uwezo Fund, Ksh5.3 billion has been released to the constituencies with Ksh7.5 billion through Women Enterprise Fund since introduction of the affirmative funds three years ago.