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Promoting advancement of women in leadership

Female Leaders in governance, politics and civil society have today engaged in a stakeholder meeting to unpack the roadmap to achievement of the Two-Thirds Gender rule in the upcoming 2022 General Elections.

The meeting, organized by Common Women Agenda (COWA), Mechanisms to Promote the Advancement of Women (MePAW) and Mzalendo Trust, is aimed to review women’s preparedness in political processes as well as highlight media engagement for equal representation.

The Cabinet Secretary for Public Service, Gender, Senior Citizens Affairs and Special Programmes Prof. Margaret Kobia, said that there is need for women to work together across the generations and separately in their respective areas of engagement to safeguard women’s hard won celebrated constitutional gains.

Farhiya Ali, Nominated Senator (left), Caroline Kariuki, Chief Executive, Kenya Private Sector Association(KEPSA) centre and Wangechi Wachira, Executive Director, Centre for Rights, Education and Awareness during a meeting on Promoting the Advancement of Women in Kenyan Politics in 2022 at Villa Rosa Kempinski Hotel on Tuesday, 2nd November 2021. Photos by Widen Ratemo

“As the 2022 General Election approaches, women should come together and forge a common front to safeguard the existing leadership and decision-making spaces while seeking to meaningfully enter and participate into more spaces,” said Kobia.

She stated that it is important for women’s voices to be heard within discussions on dynamics of power, saying that it determines the way men and women are treated by institutions, policies, and laws.

“The way people are treated forms an integral part of what it means to be socially, economically and politically included,” stated Prof. Kobia.

The CS made the remarks in a speech read on her behalf by the Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS) Ministry of Public Service, Gender and Special Programme, Rachel Shebesh during a meeting on Promoting the Advancement of Women in Kenyan Politics 2022 at a Nairobi hotel.

Referencing the number of women holding positions as committee chairs and speakers in the Senate and National Assembly, Kobia cited inadequacies of legal framework, lack of previous experiences in political office, gender-based violence and patriarchal structures propagated through the media as factors that greatly impact the level of women participation in politics and leadership.

The CS encouraged women candidates to walk the talk despite the circumstances, further promising to support young women joining leadership. 

United Nations Women Country Director, Anne Mutavati in her speech expressed that Kenya still lags behind with 20 per cent of women representation in leadership, only beating Eswatini and Botswana in the Eastern and Southern Region of Africa.

“Kenya leads in a lot of aspects on the continent and is tirelessly working towards meeting the goals that have been set for 2030. But why has the issue of the two thirds gender rule deliberately chosen to remain at the bottom of the pyramid?” challenged Mutavati.

She emphasized on the need to have an evolving growth strategy as a country, and encouraged women already in leadership to consider generation equality and involve young women in taking up leadership positions.

In her address, National Gender and Equality Commission (NGEC) Chairperson Joyce Mutinda expressed the need to lobby enforcement of the elections offences act and address violence meted against women during the electioneering period.

Mutinda stated that in order to enhance women participation and representation in the next year’s polls, NGEC is working to ensure compliance with policies and is currently monitoring voter registration to ensure high turn up on registration of women.

Giving her remarks, Nairobi Women Representative Esther Passaris urged women to walk together irrespective of their political parties to ensure that women secure seats at every level.

“There is a need to have coordination in all levels and ensure we are not divided by our political parties” she said.

Passaris encouraged women to support each other, while investing in their visions and taking advantage of the media in airing their agenda.

By Moffin Opilio

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