Women empowerment no longer an alternative but mandate for Kenya, says Devolution CS Anne Waiguru

Devolution Cabinet Secretary Anne Waiguru says women empowerment is no longer an alternative in Kenya but a mandate.

She said gender equality and the realisation of women’s and girls’ rights are fundamental for achieving human rights, peace and security and sustainable development and must be central to the Post-2015 Development Agenda.

Waiguru told a meeting of women in Nairobi it is exciting to see opportunities for women to advance socially and professionally, expanding in Africa and globally, thereby opening up opportunities for women to influence their societies.

“We are thankful for the women who have gone before use, who opened the door, and fought the hard battle in bringing gender issues to the development decision-making table. We are cognisant that were it not for strong women who went before us, we would not be where we are today. We hope that as we advance this agenda, we may make them proud and honour their efforts,” she said.

She made the remarks at an event to celebrate 30 years since the Third World Conference on Women was held here in Nairobi, in 1985.

She said since the Beijing Declaration and platform for Action more than 20 years ago, generations have been and continue to be inspired by this blueprint for gender equality and women’s empowerment.

“Laws to promote gender equality and address violence against women and girls are being formulated. Girls’ enrolment in primary and secondary education has increased, while women are participating more actively in the labor market and in politics.”

Waiguru said women are an audience that is yearning and craving for a newer approach- an effective approach that is faster, efficient and resilient to all the challenges and shocks that threaten to derail our process of ensuring and securing equity.

It is an audience that has travelled far and wide to deliberate on the scope but also on the timeline for attaining equitable frames of our human livelihoods.

Interior PS Monica Juma(L), NARC leader Martha Karua(centre) and Devolution CS Anne Waiguru (R) while at the Nairobi +50 celebrations held at KICC. The meeting discussed various issues affecting women in the country at large and agreed on the goals to be met. (PHOTO: COURTESY)

The idea to hold the Nairobi +30 meeting, was mooted at the African Women’s Decade, also held here in Kenya in October, 2010.

The African Union Nations that were represented at the Women’s Decade, requested Kenya to host a meeting that would mark 30 years since the 3rd World Women’s Conference where the Nairobi Forward Looking Strategies (NFLS) were formulated.

The minister argued the meeting was an opportunity to generate an African declaration on gender equality and women’s empowerment that will inform the upcoming United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) meeting in September this year.

She added the meeting epitomised our common commitment and is an ideal platform for sharing some of the initiatives we are undertaking in our respective countries so that together, we can learn, reflect and build the momentum required in accelerating our efforts towards the realization of gender equality and women’s empowerment beyond 2015.

The minister said only a transformative approach can steer the world onto a more just, equitable and sustainable path.

Alternative approaches, including strong comprehensive goals to overcome structural impediments to gender equality, are a precondition for a successful Post-2015 Outcome, she added.

“This can only be achieved through a mix of approaches, whether they be a series of short term fiscal stimulus or long term structural reforms."

Waiguru called for review of progress made in all its entirety and determine whether the pace of our progress is acceptable or whether they need to catalyse and hasten it with a view to achieving our set of goals and priorities in our current generation.

The meeting was also attended by ministers representing counties that have hosted such past events since 1975. The delegates of the four countries met here due to the fact that we are all from the countries that have hosted the world conferences on women, all committed to gender equality and women’s advancement, and that we all have memorable days and nights for preparations, and  the memory when the conferences were concluded with a great success.

The four cities of Mexico, Copenhagen, Nairobi and Beijing, are just like four bridges or one belt linking us together, linking women across the world together, linking women’s movements together, and linking all countries together, moving international women’s movement forward and to make achievements one after another.