A new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) progress report shows there is slow pace towards making gender equality a reality by 2030.
Ten years since the promulgation of the New Constitution 2010 which guarantees gender equality, the report observes the country is yet to implement the two-thirds gender rule.
Women have often accused the government of lacking the political will to implement the rule.
In 2016, the UN General Assembly adopted 17 SDGs to be achieved by 2030. Among them is gender equality as goal five. Kenya, a member of the UN, committed to ensure gender equality by 2030.
However, five year since the adoption of the SDGs, much still need to be done to make equality a reality.
The report by SDG Kenya Forum, a body that monitors the progress of the goals’ implementation, paints a mixed picture for the country.
According to the report released during this year’s SDG forum held in Machakos recently, violence against women is still rampant.
“Despite legislative provision, sexual and gender-based violence is rampant in Kenya. Full enforcement of the law is the only way of assuring eradication of harmful practices including violence against women and girls,” reads part of the report.
And irrespective of there being tremendous progress in formulation of laws including the Sexual Offences Act, 2006 and Protection against Domestic Violence Act, 2015, formulated to eliminate violence against women, the report indicates gaps still exist in their implementation.
It indicts the government for lack of political commitment in ensuring women’s full and effective participation in political leadership.
Kenya fares poorly in the region with respect to women’s political representation. This exclusion according to the report is attributed to patriarchy and an electoral system that allows intolerance and violence, naturally favouring men.
Catherine Nyambura the Gender and Advocacy Lead at SDGs Kenya Forum indicated the realisation of SDGs is hampered by lack of enough resources to fund SDG-related projects.
Speaking at the forum, she said there is need for the government to directly invest in projects that will help the country realise them.
Nyambura, however, added the government’s Big Four Agenda and Vision 2030 will go a long way in making SDGs a reality.
“It is a mixed picture. Demonstrating political will on some areas such as the recent President’s remark on ending Female Genital Mutilation(FGM) by 2022, and violence against women by 2030, but lagging behind in passing the two-thirds gender rule and allocating resources for gender matters,” said Nyambura.
It is, however, not all gloom as the report recognises some of the government’s initiative geared to ensure economic empowerment at the grassroots level.
This, the report says, is an enabling environment that shows evidence of its commitment to finance business opportunities and facilitate market access.
“The Constituency Women Enterprise Scheme allows women’s groups to access loans to expand or start new businesses. The removal of school fees for day secondary schools and free primary education, is particularly relevant for girls. The government’s provision of free maternal healthcare policy has also allowed for an increase in facility-based deliveries,” says the report.
The report recognises that the Council of Governors (COG) and the Ministry of Public Service, Youth and Gender Affairs signed an Intergovernmental Framework in January 2019, aimed at enhancing gender equality.
The Framework provides a mechanism for consultations and cooperation between the national and county governments on gender mainstreaming.
To help achieve gender equality, the report recommends that the government undertakes resource measures that aid the realisation of the constitutional and legislative land equity provisions.
Such measures, the report proposes, should include joint titling of matrimonial property, development of engendered community land use and management plans, simplification of the succession process to make it more affordable, and devolution of land registries.
The forum through the report also roots for women to be enabled to participate in economic empowerment activities like table banking; and access to soft loans.
It also recommends a women fund for domestic violence survivors to start small business.
The co-chair of this year’s SDG Forum Mr George Wala said the country has made impressive strides in realising some SDGs including healthcare and education.
Mr Wala who is also the country director of Voluntary Service Oversee observed the country, however, lags behind in inclusivity, historical injustices and marginalisation.
“There is a gap in financing and coordination of SDGs. The private sector should be roped in order to champion some of the goals like gender among others,” said Mr Wala.
As part of its gender equality campaign, the government has, in the recent times, shown commitment in fighting the Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).
President Uhuru Kenyatta while launching the National Policy on Abandonment of Female Genital Mutilation 2019, last month described the rite as an archaic cultural practice that assaults the wellbeing of individuals and society, and pitched for its complete eradication.
The government is banking on the new policy to eradicate FGM by 2022. The State has now, through the policy, placed those subjected to and at risk of FGM including religious leaders, traditional justice systems in FGM practicing communities, and stakeholders involved in anti-FGM advocacy at the centre of the campaign.
Pundits opine the Bridging Bridges Initiative (BBI) report could have come to give women a lifeline on the elusive two-thirds gender rule.
The report launched by President Uhuru and Opposition leader Raila Odinga last year, contains proposals aimed at guaranteeing gender equality, inclusivity and representation.
This, the report observes, will equalise both genders in political terms, rather than creating a parallel system that creates a sense of tokenism.
Priscilla Nyokabi a commissioner at National Gender and Equality Commission (NGEC), said women are happy with BBI and want its implementation immediately.
“Women have a reason to celebrate BBI in all levels. We shall support, protect and pursue its implementation. On devolution, women have won and now seek to have either the deputy president position or that of prime minister in future once it is passed,” said Nyokabi when contacted.
Maendelo ya Wanawake chairperson Mrs Rahab Muiu termed BBI report as a good document that has made sure the gains for gender equality and empowerment are secured.
“This is a dream come true for women and we are fully behind it. It has come to unite the country which is a plus for the women and children as they are the ones who suffer most during conflict and war,” she said.