Jubilee's milestones in gender parity quest

President Uhuru Kenyatta in Nyeri

President Uhuru Kenyatta addresses wananchi in Othaya town, Nyeri County moments after commissioning Mwai Kibaki Hospital on August 6, 2022. 

Photo credit: Joseph Kanyi | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • The four thematic areas are women in leadership and decision-making; socioeconomic empowerment and financial inclusion; gender-based violence; and women in peace and security.
  • GSWG says Jubilee’s milestones include increased number of women in government agencies, including the Executive, Judiciary and Parliament.

The jury is out on how the Jubilee administration performed in enhancing gender equality.

The Gender Sector Working Group (GSWG) has cited the administration’s milestones in four thematic areas of women in leadership and decision-making; socioeconomic empowerment and financial inclusion; gender-based violence; and women in peace and security.

In a statement released after their last meeting under the current administration, GSWG says Jubilee’s milestones include increased number of women in government agencies, including the Executive, Judiciary and Parliament. It notes that a third of the Cabinet comprises women and the number of women heads of constitutional commissions and independent offices has increased to 53.3 per cent.

At the Supreme Court, the committee notes that 43 per cent of judges are women, with the Chief Justice and her deputy also being women. In academia, out of the 30 public universities in Kenya, women are currently chairing 23.3 per cent of boards.

Legislature and laws

In Parliament, women representation now stands at 31.3 and 21.8 per cent in the Senate and the National Assembly respectively. On legislation, the group notes that the government has implemented a number of laws to enhance gender equality, including the Matrimonial Property Act, 2013; the Marriage Act, 2014; the Lands Act; and the Lands Registration Act, which safeguard women’s property rights.

To prevent GBV against women, girls and children, the government has also been lauded for putting in place the Domestic Violence Act, 2015, and the Elections Offences Act, 2016.

The group also cites the Employment Amendment Act to provide for pre-adoption leave, the Children Act and the Community Registration Act, all passed into law last year.

“On GBV, the government is co-leading the Global Action Coalition on advancing gender equality and ending all forms of gender-related violence. In 2021 during the Gender Equality Forum held in Paris, France, the President made 12 bold commitments aimed at removing the systematic barriers that enable gender-based violence to thrive,” reads the statement.

The government has been lauded for its commitment to eradicating female genital mutilation (FGM), with the ongoing national campaign to end the vice by the year end receiving accolades.

Spirited efforts to tame the vice have also seen cultural and religious leaders from Borana, Samburu and Pokot communities make bold public declarations of their commitment to ending FGM and child marriage.

Anti-FGM steering committees have also been formed in the hotspot counties to lead campaigns to end the vice through community dialogues.

At the Kenya School of Government, an innovative syllabus on sustainable approaches to ending FGM has been designed and to date, 114 anti-FGM champions have been trained and recognised for their outstanding work.

Prosecution of GBV cases

The Jubilee government, through the Office of Director of Public Prosecution (ODPP), has also established a special unit to deal with FGM cases. Last year, the ODPP launched the standard operating procedure manual on FGM cases to enhance the collection and presentation of evidence in court, thereby providing a lifeline to survivors.

“Kenya, together with the neighbouring countries of Uganda, Tanzania, Ethiopia and Somalia, recently launched a costed Action Plan aimed at synergising the strategies, policy and legal framework for ending cross-border FGM. Guidelines for the management of county GBV recovery centres, critical for ensuring survivors have access to quality essential service have also been released,” the group notes.

According to the United Nations Population Fund, at least 200 million girls and women alive today globally have undergone FGM in 30 countries, including Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Tanzania and Uganda. The UN agency, in its 2019 report titled Beyond the Crossing: FGM Across Borders, observed the borders have accelerated FGM in areas where communities on both sides practise the cut.

The committee also enumerates the launch of the integrated response to GBV by the National Police Service, dubbed Policare, which is a one stop centre that provides comprehensive services, including legal, psycho-social support and medical services to survivors.

On economic empowerment, GSWG shows that the Women Enterprise Fund (WEF) has disbursed Sh24 billion to 1.9 million beneficiaries, of whom 1.5 million have been equipped with business skills, with 30,000 being supported in the marketing of goods and services. An additional 5,000 micro, small and medium enterprises have been linked to larger enterprises.

WEF also recently launched a new loan product dubbed Thamini for widows aimed at helping them to enhance their lives and their families’. So far, over Sh10 million has been disbursed to 56 groups benefitting 653 individuals.

Affirmative Action Fund

Under the National Affirmative Action Fund, Sh14.6 billion has been disbursed to all the 47 counties in the last seven years since its inception in 2015. The fund has supported 217,543 vulnerable and special needs children through bursaries and scholarships.

About 28,258 women and girls have also been trained in technical and vocational institutions, with 128 women-owned Saccos being funded. An additional 12,460 groups have been provided with funds for income-generating initiatives through value addition enterprises.

To promote women’s participation in the security sector, the first Kenyan female brigadier in the army and subsequently major general got appointed in 2015 and 2018 respectively.

The objective of GSWG is to advance gender equality and women’s empowerment through state and non-state actors in aligning with Sustainable Development Goals, the Constitution and Vision 2030. It comprises the national government, the Council of Governors, development partners, the private sector, civil society, and foundations, among other stakeholders.

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