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Monday, 9 March 2015

Celebrating women achievements during International Women Day 2015

By Bob Aston
Kenya on Sunday joined the World in celebrating the International Women Day 2015 whose theme this year was “Make it happen”. The event which is celebrated annually on March 8 commemorated the 20th anniversary year of the Beijing Declaration and platform for Action, a historic roadmap signed by 189 governments 20 years ago that sets agenda for realizing women’s rights.
The Beijing Platform for Action focuses on 12 critical areas of concern and envisions a world where each woman and girl can exercise her choices, such as participating in politics, getting an education, having an income and living in societies free from violence and discrimination. It envisaged that women empowerment and their full participation on the basis of equality in all spheres of society including participation in the decision making process and access to power are fundamental for the achievement of equality, development and peace.
The day represented an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of women while at the same time recognizing the challenges that women face and focusing more attention on women’s rights and gender equality.
Women being trained on bead work
Significant progress towards gender equality and empowerment of women has been realized over the years in Kenya. Currently the government has put in place several initiatives and formulated policies to support women including the Women Enterprise Development Fund, the Uwezo Fund and the 30 percent allocation of all public procurement to women.
The Kenya constitution has also improved women’s rights particularly on citizenship, land and property rights, participation in the political process and on discrimination. The constitution has also ensured that a third of elected and appointed posts in public offices are reserved for women.
Another significant milestone has been on the education front. In this year’s Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE), the ratio between girls and boys was 437,288 (49.7) girls and 443,258 boys (50.3) while 23 out of the 47 counties had more girls than boys sitting for KCPE examination. Girl’s performance also improved in the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) while the gender ratio was 54 percent boys and 46 percent girls.
The countless acts of courage carried out by women and their determination to make positive change has significantly contributed to the social and economic development of the country. However, disparity between women and men characterizes most spheres of society in the Country.
Women are still underrepresented in decision making positions. They also have less access to education, land and employment. Traditional ideas about the roles of girls and women particularly in rural areas has restricted their contributions. These ideas hold women back from contributing to important development goals, especially in areas of economic growth, nutrition and food security.
Giving women an equal opportunity and allowing them to reach their full potential would go a long way in not only uplifting their livelihood but also improving the economy of the country.
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