Women from Wajir County have vowed to tackle challenges that have hampered their involvement in business, saying it has come in the way of gender equality and empowerment.
A Wajir investors’ and women groups’ meeting was held in a Nairobi hotel last week to seek solutions on how women in the county can overcome the challenges.
The discussion focused on capacity building, women empowerment and business opportunities in the county. The meeting was convened by The Kenya Diaspora Alliance (KDA) in conjunction with the Wajir County Government.
The women were advised to form cooperative societies to benefit maximally from investment opportunities.
Habiba Mohammed the convener of a group dubbed Champions for Change, said they have come up with a movement, County Women Initiative, to empower women economically. She added the initiative will ensure there is improvement in health, water and sanitation, which was adversely affecting the women.
“We are pushing for the full implementation of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG 5) on gender equality. Our women and girls must be empowered by allowing them to have political and economic rights. They should not be discriminated on base don their gender since they should have equal rights,” she said.
Habiba, who represented the County First Lady, asked the government to come up with legislations that would enhance gender equality, adding the high poverty levels in Wajir County was adversely affecting women.
Former Wajir Woman Representative Fatuma Ibrahim, said the county has potential for investment and called on its government to create a conducive environment.
Nairobi County Assembly speaker Ms Beatrice Elachi, who was also present, encouraged women to focus on what they want to achieve.
“All we want is a conducive environment that will enable women engage in business. Both genders must be treated equally,” said Elachi.
KDA Global Chair Dr Shem Ochuodho said his organization was ready to partner with women groups and the county government to initiate development projects.
A legal expert who addressed the meeting Dr Alutalala Mukhwana implored on the county government to remove hindrances that were making investments unattractive.
“The county government should ensure that progressive pieces of legislations are put in place,” said Dr Alutalala.
Devolution Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa, Wajir Governor Mohamed Abdi Mohamud and his Mandera counterpart Mr Ali Roba attended the meeting.
Wamalwa said Kenyans in diaspora play a critical role on the development of the country through their remittances that last year totalled about Sh 300 billion.
The CS said the establishment of economic blocs have made it easier for potential investors.
“The North Eastern region is open for business. The government has set aside about Sh120 billion that is going to the region’s water, solar and energy,” said the CS.
The governor said his administration is determined to ensure gender equality and empowerment.
He said they had embarked on a program to improve access to water and sanitation, health and education which will help women and children in the county.
“We are committed to devolving resources and decision-making to the ward level to increase empowerment,” he said.
The governor promised to ensure women empowerment through education, access to rural financial services, capacity building and other targeted interventions.
“We are scaling up investments in health and nutrition, referral services, maternity services and child health, rain water harvesting technologies for domestic consumption in water stressed areas, and irrigation for food and fodder production,” he said.