The National Gender and Equality Commission (NGEC) has raised alarm over the increased cases of Violence against women during the Covid-19 period even as the world commemorates International Women’s Day.
According to NGEC the pandemic has seen more women experience violence with girls being prone to defilement as well Female Genital Mutilation which in turn creates barriers to women participation in labour, governance and education.
“The restrictions to movement and confinement of persons at home have also exposed women to intimate partner violence. Girls are exposed to exploitation and torture, Female Genital Mutilation, defilement and child labour,” NGEC said
The Commission however acknowledged Governments efforts in ensuring women are empowered economically through various programs.
“The continual training of women and youth on the value chain, innovations, financial management, low-cost manufacturing, recycling of waste, talent-based enterprises, start-up kits, marketing, and consumer preferences have gone a long way in promoting women participation in formal and informal employment,”the commission stated
Additionally, NGEC lauded the government for creating social safety programs including health insurance, social security programs for the informal sector as well as cash transfers to older members of society, persons with severe disabilities, orphans and vulnerable children.
The Commission further indicated that significant progress had been made in representation and participation of women in leadership at the national level
“In politics, for instance, women representation in the 1990s was 3%. This number increased in 2019 to 31.3% in Senate and 21.8% in the National Assembly. In Judiciary, women magistrates constitute 53.3% (Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, 20201).” NGEC highlighted
NGEC also acknowledged the critical role women have played in the fight against Covid-19 noting that most of them have been at front line as healthcare givers despite the risk posed by the highly infectious virus.
The commission also stated that gender inequality has been felt in the labour sector where more men than women are present thus creating an economic participation and opportunity gap.
“Within the labour market, gender gaps tend to widen with seniority level. An analysis of the gender mainstreaming reports for the year 2019/2020 received by the Commission from government Ministries, Departments and Agencies show that men are dominant in the senior management positions,” the commission stated
Further, to achieve a gender-equal future NGEC called for the implementation implementation of the Sessional Paper No. 02 of 2019 on National Policy on Gender and Development. This paper draws policy issues that Kenya must implement to realize gender equality and women empowerment along the 12 critical areas identified in the 1995 Beijing Platform for Action.
The commission also recommends compliance with the constitutional provisions on gender equality and freedom from discrimination, and with international and regional commitments that Kenya has ratified on women rights as well as increased resource allocation for gender equality programs.
This year’s theme for International women’s day is “Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a Covid-19 world.”