Maendeleo ya Wanawake Organization has been identified as a crucial component in the country’s Social-economic progress in the fight against Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).
Speaking Thursday at the Machakos International Convention Center during celebrations to mark the 70th anniversary of the Maendeleo ya Wanawake Organization, the State Department of Public Service Principal Secretary (PS), Mrs. Mary Kimonye said that the organization was the first to implement alternative rites of passage that led to the reduction of FGM in the country.
“As we mark the 70th anniversary of the Maendeleo ya Wanawake Organization, it is necessary to acknowledge the organization as the pioneers in the battle against FGM,” said Kimonye.
“This is through the introduction of alternative rites of passage which has enlightened many communities on the negative effects of FGM practices in the country,” added Kimonye.
Kimonye said the Maendeleo ya Wanawake has been the largest organization involved in reproductive health in the country and was the first women organization to roll out a national program on family planning.
She also stated that the organization was the first to implement the civic education program with Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA), which includes capacity development initiatives that have encouraged good relations, harmony, and peaceful cohabitation among people of different ethnic groups in the nation.
“I also acknowledge the fact that Maendeleo ya Wanawake is the first women organization to roll out a national civic education program with FIDA 1996 ahead of the 1997 elections which has reduced tribalism and increased harmony and peaceful coexistence between individuals from different ethnic groups,” she said.
Regarding its role in socio- economic development, Kimonye said that the organization has a current nationwide rainwater harvesting initiative which aims to provide at least a 10,000-litre water tank to every woman at the grassroots level so that they can tap rainwater that is clean and time-saving.
“Our appreciation extends to Ndumu Plastics’ engagement with the organization to create a microfinance initiative to help grassroots women get access to water for home use and to start smart agriculture, which will help enhance food production in the country,” said Kimonye.
She pointed out that the group has worked with Equity Group Foundation on the water harvesting project to teach women in financial literacy, entrepreneurial education, digital literacy, and business development services.
The PS further added that Maendeleo ya Wanawake has had a lot of achievements since its inception as it has performed well and remained strong regardless of all the political regimes and the economic upheavals that the country has experienced.
In attendance was the NARC Kenya Party Leader, Martha Karua who said that the organization is a premium women’s organization that has nurtured virtually all other women’s groups and successful women in the country adding that the job the organization has done in the nation is exceptional in terms of growth.
“Most of the highly ranked women in the country, including me, are a product of this organization. The organization has also encouraged other female empowerment groups to focus on their goals to ensure that women improve their livelihoods in the society,” said Karua.
Karua said that Maendeleo ya Wanawake organization does not discriminate given that it accommodates people of all social status with people of high and low ranks both in the rural and urban areas.
Karua said that the organization has also motivated women to run for political office so that they may spearhead the country’s economic growth since they are the country’s economic backbone.
Machakos County Deputy Governor Eng. Francis Maliti who was in attendance acknowledged the importance of women empowerment groups in enhancing women’s well-being.
He also said that the government is committed to improving women’s well-being through the implementation of women empowerment funds, education, and the inclusion of women in positions of leadership in government.
“The government has implemented programs that protect the rights of women in the society. Machakos County government has ensured that women acquire proper education, jobs in the public service so as to promote equality in the society. Out of 6,664 county employees, 4035 are women,” said Maliti.
The DG also endorsed the Maendeleo ya Wanawake organization’s goal of ensuring that the rights of the male child are protected so that they are not left behind in the development of their own livelihoods.
By Conceptah Isanya and Caroline Mutheu