World Assembly for Women pays special attention to role of women in Kenyan politics

First Lady Margaret Kenyatta joins women leaders and delegates attending the World Assembly for Women in Tokyo, Japan, for a High Roundtable Luncheon hosted by the Prime Minister of Japan, Mr. Shinzo Abe and the Spouse of the Prime Minister of Japan, Madam Akie Abe.

TOKYO, JAPAN: Kenya received special attention at the just concluded World Assembly for Women (WAW) conference in Japan for doing particularly well in regard to the girl child education and recognition of its women politicians.

Delegates who converged at a special panel on girls and education praised Kenya for promoting gender equity in education and also implementing a constitution that appreciates the potential and contribution of women politicians.

First Lady Margaret Kenyatta, who was among the panelists listed several deliberately pro-active interventions by the government that have made Kenya a fairly success story in the area of girl child education.

But, Sri Lanka beat many other countries when former State Minister of Children Affairs from that country Ms Rosy Senanayake reported her country has a 93 per cent literacy level.

On political representation, parallels were drawn between the populous 168 million people West African nation of Nigeria which has fewer female political leaders compared to Kenya with her 40 million people.

A senior Government delegate from Nigeria said the number of female leaders in that country has been dropping while Kenyan women are pushing for more slots as provided in the new Constitution (2010).

The First Lady told the panelists that Kenya’s greatest pillar on girl-child education is the constitution which recognizes the importance of education as a basic right for all its children.

She said Kenya has for many years recognized that education and training, equitably between girls and boys is a key catalyst towards the realization of its past planning goals and especially vision 2030.

She said Kenya has nearly achieved equal enrolment at primary level except in Arid and Semi Arid areas (ASALS).

The First Lady said all levels of education in Kenya witnessed tremendous growth between 2009 and 2014 and the trend continues to improve as more and more children access education.

Other interventions by the Government, said the First Lady include Free Primary Education and Free Day Secondary Education introduced in 2003 and 2008 respectively and whose overall objective is to increase access, equity, quality and relevance in basic education.

The implementation of the school health, nutrition and meals initiative in some disadvantaged schools is the other intervention that continues to benefit some 1.3 million pre-primary and primary school children in 64 ASAL districts and slums of Nairobi.

School bursaries, elimination of gender based violence in educational institutions, mobile schools, provision of sanitary towels for needy girls, the policy that encourages the re-entry of girls to school after early unwanted pregnancies are the other inventions by the Government that promote equity.

The delegates said half the world’s population is denied its basic fundamental right because it cannot access an education. Majority of these people are women.

On Friday, the WAW conference was told that a large army of 62 million women are illiterate, globally.

Solutions to address equity in education in countries lagging behind on the matter, said the delegates,  lies on  ensuring security of girls in school by providing them with dormitories and boarding facilities, providing them with sanitary  facilities and the removal of socio-cultural beliefs that place premiums and  more value on the boy child.

Priorities should also be placed on the training of more female teachers  and changing  mindsets and attitudes  of some socio-cultural issues about the education of girls, said the delegates.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe opened the panel session and also closed the two-day WAW conference.