First lady Rachel Ruto is using faith diplomacy as a pillar in her strategy to empower women economically as well as close gaps in gender equity in Kenya. She said this during the Organization of African First Ladies for Development (OAFLAD) at the ongoing African Union Summit in Addis Ababa.
She said her strategy is aligned to OAFLAD priority areas of economic participation, education and health.
“Priorities are organized around three strategic pillars including women economic empowerment which involves financial inclusion and health. The environment and economic pillar includes green and blue economy and health and wellness while faith diplomacy includes family and national values and mercy works,” she said.
She said that the women economic empowerment is through table banking.
“The flagship program, Joyful Women was founded in 2009. Table banking is a funding model where members save and borrow directly from their savings for short or long-term loans. The program is aimed at empowering women and ensuring they are financially included,” she said.
According to Ms Ruto, Joyful Women has more than 150,000 members and more than 11,000 women groups representing 39 counties.
Ms Ruto also said that through faith diplomacy, she is working towards peace and national cohesion through her advocacy for a return to family values. She added that she is partnering with faith based organizations to incorporate value based teachings.
“Women and children bear the brunt of war and unstable conditions. Gender-based violence (GBV) and other social ills contribute to unstable families and despite the government’s free primary education program, some children in urban settlements are not in school due to family responsibilities as some children are heading households. I’m using faith as a tool for promoting cohesion, peace and development,” she said.