Leaders call for tough legislation to protect girls

Homa Bay Governor Cyprian Awiti (right) with Homa Bay Catholic Bishop Philip Anyolo at a funds drive at St Bhakita Girls School in Rangwe.

Homabay,KENYA: Leaders from Nyanza, Rift Valley and Central want politicians to tone down on rhetoric and use their energies to address the deteriorating academic performance among girls.

Homa Bay Governor Cyprian Awiti led six MPs and Five Women Representatives from Meru, Homa Bay, Nandi and Nyeri in demanding enactment of stiffer laws to help keep girls in school and help improve their academic performances.

Speaking in Homa Bay County on Friday, Senator Otieno Kajwang, MPs George Oner (Rangwe), Opondo Kaluma (Homa Bay Town), Milly Odhiambo (Mbita), Syvans Osele (Kabondo Kasipul), and Oyiugi Magwanga (Kasipul) said it was a pity leaders had failed to address the plight of the girl child despite all indications many of them were dropping out of schools.

Women County MPs Priscila Nyokabi (Nyeri), Siopan Tuya (Narok), Florence Kajuju (Meru), Zipora Kering (Nandi), Gladys Wanga (Homa Bay) and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga’s wife Ida, led the onslaught on what their termed Kenyans’ poor attitude towards the empowerment of girls. The leaders said girls in many regions were endangered and could hardly compete with boys because of cultural hurdles, early marriages, poverty, sexual abuses and stereotyping.

Stung by the myriad problems facing the girl child in Homa Bay, the leaders spent only one hour to raise Sh2.8 million for St Josephine Bakhita Girls Secondary School in Rangwe Constituency.

Mr Awiti and Mrs Odinga, briefed the visiting MPs of the problems facing the girl child in the region.

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Mrs Odinga who is the school’s patron, said she was moved by the plight of girls in the country. “I was a teacher and I know what our girls from poor families go through. Because of this, I will provide sanitary towels for a year for all the girls in this school,” she said.

Mr Awiti said his county government would push for tough legislations to deal with sex predators ruining the future of schoolgirls.

Student woes

He called for devolution of education ministry to the counties to enables governors deal firmly with problems facing students.

“The biggest culprits are sex pests who prey on out innocent girls, impregnating them and sending them out of schools. We will deal with them ruthlessly because we have powers to do so,” said Awiti. Most of the leaders called for stiffer penalties for men found defiling or wooing schoolgirls out of schools.

The Women MPs  from the Jubilee  Coalition said they had visited  Homa Bay, a CORD zone to show that development knew no political boundaries.

“As women leaders, we don’t care about political parties when pursuing development, especially those affecting the  women and children.  We want to be a uniting factor in this country. We want men to emulate us,” said Ms Kering. She was supported by Kajuju, Nyokabi and Tuya who said they would  visit all parts of the country to support girls’ education.

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