Home NEWS Local News Stakeholders call for socio-economic, political empowerment of women and girls

Stakeholders call for socio-economic, political empowerment of women and girls

Stakeholders in Nakuru have called for socio-economic and political empowerment of women and girls for equity and national development and prosperity.

While noting that women form the backbone of the society, Nakuru County Chief Officer in charge of Gender, Social Services Gladys Kamuren encouraged women to participate in social development by seeking positions of leadership at the national and county levels.

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Kamuren applauded the over 20 per cent representation of women in the National Assembly, saying more needed to be done to achieve the two-thirds gender rule.

She stated that investing in women and girls is not only a matter of justice, but a smart investment generating significant returns for the entire community.

Kamuren urged women to lend their voice to combating harmful cultural practices even as she expressed satisfaction that a lot of resources are being channeled by the devolved unit’s administration towards ensuring equity and justice.

“We also, as women, must continue to raise our voices and protect ourselves against harmful practices such as female genital mutilation (FGM) and early child marriage; these factors impede our pathway to reaching our gifted potential,” Kamuren said.

She underscored the importance of investing in women as a fundamental human right issue and emphasized the need for urgent action to address barriers to women’s economic empowerment and participation.

Speaking at Keringet in Kuresoi South Constituency, Kamuren indicated that by ensuring safety, access to quality education, and empowerment of women and girls they beneficiaries will be liberated from fear, violence and unleash their full potential, thereby contributing significantly to the growth and advancement of the society.

County Director for Gender and Inclusivity Ms. Selina Nkatha said the devolved unit has formed Gender Technical Working Groups (GTWG) that have been cascaded to Sub-County levels and are charged with holding monthly community engagements where women are provided with mentorship and networking opportunities.

The County, she disclosed, is connecting women entrepreneurs with investors, financial institutions, Savings and Credit Cooperative Societies and industry leaders facilitating access to funding and resources to grow their ventures.

She noted that while the journey of women in leadership has been long and bumpy, their determination and commitment has yielded fruit. “Therefore, we celebrate the gains made and also reflect on the social, economic, political and cultural context in which women and girls live and work,” the Director pointed out.

Nkatha noted that gender equality and women empowerment are essential components of human development and basic human rights.

She called for protection of the girl child from sex pests who include some close relatives.

The Director lauded the collaboration and support they receive from donor partners and the civil society in ensuring a peaceful and free society.

A 2021 Report of the United Nations Secretary-General acknowledged that progress had been made in women’s representation at different levels, mainly through legislated gender quotas, and the impact of women’s participation in decision-making and civil society.

However, the report said these were being negated by systemic challenges, which includ the increasing levels of violence perpetrated against women in public life and harmful practices. Not to mention specific challenges encountered by marginalized women who face several forms of discrimination.

Projects Coordinator of Groots Kenya Dorcas Kigera affirmed that men must be allies in the fight for gender equality, using their privilege to amplify the voices of women and advocate for change. Likewise, she added, women must support and uplift one another, by forging networks of solidarity that transcend societal divides.

Kigera noted that in most circumstances, teenage pregnancies are borne out of sexual gender-based violence (SGBV) and/or transactional sex, and not necessarily consensual sex adding that denying girls re-entry to school after pregnancy is setting them up for failure and leaving them revolving in the vicious cycle of poverty.

In 2023, a total of 110,821 pregnancies were recorded among adolescents aged between the ages of 10 to 19 in the first five months of the year.

Data from the Kenya Health Information Systems shows that from the 110,821 pregnancies, a total of 6,110 were among adolescents aged between 10 to 14 years while another 104,711 were between the ages of 15 and 19.

Kigera stated that while girls are judged harshly and punished for falling pregnant, their male counterparts, who are sometimes responsible for their pregnancies, get to move on with their lives uninterrupted.

Having appreciated the increased rate of pregnancies, the Ministry of Education in Kenya developed National Guidelines for School Re-Entry in Early Learning and Basic Education 2020, to ensure that teenage mothers can attend school pre-delivery and post-delivery.

Despite the policies, she said, it is saddening that girls are still denied the opportunity to get an education which is their right, and more so that such denial is perpetuated by leaders who should be protecting this right.

Further, Kigera indicated that education for young mothers fosters a sense of empowerment, allowing young mothers to make informed decisions about their lives and those of their children.

“As they gain financial stability through education, they are better positioned to provide a secure and nurturing environment for their families. As a society, we should celebrate and champion the transformative power of education, ensuring that every teenage mother is afforded the chance to build a better tomorrow,” she added.

 

Dennis Rasto
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