Maendeleo ya Wanawake commemorated 70 years since the establishment of the organization in the year 1952, with women being called upon to embrace unity and integrity to promote development at the grass root level.
In a speech read by Chief Administrative Secretary for the State Department for Gender, Dr Linah Jebii, on behalf of Ministry of Public Service and Gender, Cabinet Secretary Prof Margaret Kobia, commended the role Maendeleo ya Wanawake has played in supporting and nurturing women and girls to attain full potential in contributing to nation building.
“Maendeleo ya Wanawake has been a pillar of the women of Kenya and in particular at the grass root level. This is evidenced by the large contingent of over 4 million strong women across our country who continue to play the active role in sectors of social economic development,” said Prof. Kobia.
The CS lauded the organization’s National Executive Council for its commitment to strengthen governance and focus of Maendeleo ya Wanawake which had enabled its successful partnership with the Ministry of Gender to promote gender equality and women empowerment through implementation and coordination of policies regarding women in leadership, economic empowerment, eradication of gender-based violence including Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and peace and security.
Additionally, Prof. Kobia recognized the vital role played by the Maendeleo ya Wanawake in contributing to the improved performance in the country’s access to health, education and improved life expectancy.
“According to the gender development index that measures a country’s access to Health, Education, Life Expectancy and Wellbeing, the Women Economic Council 2020 report revealed that Kenya improved from position 118 in 2019 to position 95 in 2020 out of the 186 countries evaluated. Part of this success can be attributed to the work done by Maendeleo ya Wanawake,” she added.
She reiterated the need by the women’s organization to understand the growing and challenging needs of women and girls in terms of technological advancement and socio-economic progress.
The CS assured Kenyans of the government’s commitment to supporting Maendeleo ya Wanawake Organization (MYWO) to realize Kenya Vision 2030 and achieve sustainable development goals.
On her part, Dr Jebii urged women to embrace unity to support each other in the society. She called upon the members of MYWO to support the ministry towards eradication of gender-based violence and all kinds social practices that tended to violate women rights including FGM.
“We need to be at the frontline to advice our children and reporting any cases of early marriages, FGM and others to the relevant authorities through emergency number 1195, this is our role as women,” said Dr Jebii.
In a move to support the vulnerable women in the society like the widows, the CAS hinted on the government’s introduction of Thamini Mjane Fund under Women Enterprise Fund which offers free interest loans to help widows improve their livelihood through business.
Maendeleo ya Wanawake National Chairperson Rahab Mwiu, said the MYWO was committed to promoting women development in the country up to the grass root level by establishing head offices in every county to enable everyone access services easily.
She said the organization was moving forward to construct a head office in Mombasa after completion of the first one in Nairobi.
In her remarks, Uasin Gishu CEC Co-operatives and Enterprise Development Esther Mutai, said the county government had partnered with Women Enterprise Fund which enabled the county administration to increase financial allocation from Sh32 million which was given consistently for the last 5 years to 62 million in a span of 7 months.
The CEC said the county government through the Department of Co-operatives and Enterprise Development works together with partners to enhance women development by mobilising and registering self-help groups to enable them access loans to grow their economy.
“We have Inua Biashara Fund which was started to support women, youth and People Living with Disabilities (PWDs) in enterprising. We also have Cooperative Development Fund, an affirmative fund which offers loans at a rate of 5 per cent to groups,” said Mutai.
Mutai further said the county government also empowers women through the Inua Mama na Kuku project which distributes chicks to women groups to help them improve their livelihood through chicken rearing business.
Present in the event was Narc Kenya chairperson Martha Karua who lauded women efforts in promoting girl child education through MYWO which fosters socio economic development in the country by involving women in all sectors like agriculture, education and others.
The Maendeleo ya Wanawake Organization 70th anniversary which was hosted in at Rift Valley Technical Training Institute grounds in Uasin Gishu County involved women drawn across 14 counties of Kenya to promote women resilience towards gender equality and women empowerment.
By Ekuwam Sylvester and Judy Too