“Run the world (Girls).” These words are in Beyoncé 2011 studio album. Basically, the song recognises the power of womenfolk in making the world go round. And, yes, girls have run the world, only they hardly shout about it.
For many years, the role women play in national development has been taken lightly compared to appreciation of what men do.
Consequently, this has resulted in gender discrimination, starting from the basic level in the family to the higher echelons in society. Luckily, there is a reawakening and women are getting substantial recognition for their roles, both in the homes and outside.
In this part of the world, we say that investing in a girl’s education is empowering the whole family. Indeed, the campaign to uplift and empower the girl child has been central to many of the country’s education initiatives for more than two decades now.
It may be lost to many of us that the gains currently being made by women in the career world are a direct result of deliberate efforts to educate the girl child.
While a lot of advocacy and lobbying work has been put in empowering girls, their educational achievements cannot be taken for granted.
In addition to ongoing national efforts, Kenya is a participant of many global initiatives that celebrate the talents, intelligence and resilience of the world’s 1.1 billion girls. For instance, on October 11 this year we marked the sixth anniversary of the UN’s International Day of the Girl.
Amidst various social and economic challenges facing girls globally, this day takes into consideration the fact that girls everywhere, Kenya included, are a source of power, energy and creativity.
This day reaffirms the need for all players to invest in skills training, education and livelihood activities for young women around the world, in order to uplift their status.
Given a chance, girls can drive change and help to build a better future for the human race as a whole. But this needs deliberate strategies and policies aimed at helping this become a reality without unnecessary hurdles on the way.
As a signatory to the UN’s Social Development Goals (SDGs), Kenya ascribes to SDG 5 that requires countries to ascribe to gender equality by empowering all women and girls in various areas. SDG 5, which has seven targets and 14 indicators, underscores the need to uplift women and girls in society by eradicating all forms of discrimination, eliminating violence and harmful practices against them.
In addition to advocating for reforms that give women equal rights to economic resources and control of different types property, SDG 5 also tackles apparently mundane issues like compensation and recognition of the role women perform in domestic work and household chores. The latter is borne out of the notion that charity begins at home. We must recognise the nurturing role women play in our homes in order to appreciate the big picture.
Let us go back to the role of women in the family, the most important unit of any society. The influence and impact mothers have on their children stays with them throughout their lives, and is often passed on to future generations. That is why most successful people in various fields will confess that the greatest influence to achieving success has been their mothers.
Therefore, it beats logic why such a central figure in our families and communities can be ignored in national initiatives.
Arising from their basic roles, women are a treasure trove of wisdom and intelligence. They are able to nurture great personalities who move the world to greater heights of achievement. Their ability to multi-task is also near magical, achieving a perfect balance in their different roles. Now, imagine what kind of contribution such a woman can offer in changing society for the better.
While our 2010 Constitution states categorically that there should be no more than two-thirds of any gender particularly in public service, our political class is still stuck in legalities instead of ensuring that the law is implemented as stated.
Suffice it to say that girls matter. No nation can boast of having achieved progress without fully incorporating the different contributions of women.
Really, no one should be left behind. We must create an inclusive society that appreciates and rewards women for their onerous roles and invaluable contributions in society.
Ms Laboso is the Governor of Bomet County.