A toast to 2022 gender parity champions

Former Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta

Former Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta in Nairobi on November 7, 2022. He is one of the people who have been recognised this year for championing gender equality.

Photo credit: Lucy Wanjiru | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Different women, men, public and private institutions flew high the gender equality flag in 2022.
  • These champions worked or launched initiatives or policies intended at narrowing down gender inequalities.

As the year comes to a wrap, we take time to recognise women, men, public and private institutions that flew high the gender equality flag in 2022.
These champions were awarded for their work or launched initiatives or policies intended at narrowing down gender inequalities.

Former President Uhuru Kenyatta

In June, Gender is my Agenda Campaign (Gimac), a network of African wo­men’s and civil society organisations awarded Mr Kenyatta African Gender Award for his steady efforts in advancing women’s and girls’ rights in Kenya.

During his two terms, Mr Kenyatta steered numerous affirmative policies and schemes. Soon as he took up the reins in 2013, he launched free maternity services, Uwezo Fund and Access to Government Procurement Opportunities with a policy that 30 per cent of the public tenders go to women, youths and persons with disabilities.

In the second term, he launched the Big Four Agenda comprising food security, affordable housing, manufacturing, and affordable healthcare for all, all of which directly or indirectly empower women.

For instance, by 2019, women accounted for 17 per cent of the formal manufacturing sector, an increase from one per cent in the previous year, according to a joint survey by the Kenya Association of Manufacturers and International Centre for Research on Women.

Between 2019 and 2021, President Kenyatta made landmark gender equality commitments.

Unforgettable is the pledge to end female genital mutilation by the end of this year and the 12 commitments on ending gender-based violence (GBV) under Generation Equality, a global campaign led by UN Women to accelerate gender parity. In fact, Mr Kenyatta was the co-leader of Generation Equality’s Action Coalition on ending GBV, alongside the heads of state of the UK, Iceland, and Uruguay.

It can be remembered that in 2020, he stood in the gap and ordered the National Crime Research Centre to probe underlying issues leading to teenage pregnancies at the height of the Covid-19 crisis.

At the time, there was a national uproar from civil society over huge numbers of adolescents being impregnated in the six months of school closure.

In all, Mr Kenyatta emerged as a gender equality champion.

Centre for Rights, Education and Awareness (Creaw)

The civil society group, alongside Mr Kenyatta, earned the Civil Society Award from Gimac for championing gender equality in Kenya. Creaw works with state and non-state actors to advance empowerment of women and girls.

It is a member of the National Advisory Committee on Generation Equality Forum, where it promotes accountability for the bold commitments Kenya made to tackle GBV. It is also a member of the National Steering committee of Policare to ensure the actualisation of the integrated response to GBV. It’s also a member of the National Council on the Administration of Justice working committee, contributing to the review of the Sexual Offences Act and other GBV-related laws.

Annabell Waititu

Ms Annabell Waititu gives her acceptance speech after winning the Gender Diversity and Water Award at the International Water Congress and Exhibition in Copenhagen, Denmark on September 11.   

Photo credit: Photo I Pool

In September, Ms Waititu received the first edition of the Gender Diversity and Water Award 2022, by the International Water Association. The award recognises individuals for their outstanding professional contribution to the advancement of gender diversity, equity and impactful change in the water sector.

Ms Waititu is a founding partner and vice president of programmes at Bigfive Africa. She has built 20 years of experience in water and environment sectors and utilised this expertise to advance gender mainstreaming in the water sector across East Africa. She has worked at Water for African Cities, Lake Victoria Water and Sanitation programme and the Nile Basin Initiative.

Jack Tuwei

In 2022, Athletics Kenya (AK) president Jack Tuwei was vocal on tackling GBV in the athletic industry.

Athletics Kenya president Jack Tuwei on November 1, 2022.

Photo credit: Jared Nyataya I Nation Media Group

“AK will never tolerate or condone violence, whether meted against or by an athlete. Our desire is to weed out this vice once and for all and one of the ways to do this is for as many victims as possible to come out and tell their story,” he told a local daily in May.

Mr Tuwei continues to encourage athletes to embrace amicable means of solving domestic problems to avert homicide. During the year, the industry lost two athletes – Damaris Muthee Mutua and Agnes Tirop – allegedly to intimate partner violence.

Kenya Prisons Service and Taita-Taveta County

Kenya Prisons Service, in collaboration with the Taita Taveta government, established a daycare centre at the Wundanyi Prisons. The facility, fully funded by the county, takes care of the children of incarcerated women as they attend vocational training at the institution. With these skills, they are able to start income-generating activities upon the end of their jail-terms.

British American Tobacco (BAT)

BAT was named gender mainstreaming champion for Africa at the 10th Accenture Gender Mainstreaming Awards for accelerating gender diversity and inclusion at the workplace. The company’s East Africa unit won in the category of Women Empowerment in the Workplace – East Africa, and came second place in the Mainstreaming Gender and Disability category.

A 2019 study by Nairobi Securities Exchange, Equileap and New Faces New Voices found BAT to be among five companies out of 61 listed companies with more than 14 weeks of paid primary-care leave. The study showed it offered 16 weeks of paid maternity leave.

Kenya Private Sector Alliance (Kepsa)

In March, Kepsa launched a private sector gender mainstreaming policy. The policy provides guidelines on adoption of mechanisms that promote gender equality in the private sector.

“The formulation of this policy demonstrates the private sector’s commitment to ensuring that gender mainstreaming is integral to the policies and operations of an organisation,” Kepsa chairperson Flora Mutahi said during the launch.

“It is, therefore, imperative to ensure that no one is left behind in this quest for sustainable growth and development.”