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Nominated MP Agnes Zani (left) consults former MP Priscilla Nyokabi during a leadership forum in Mombasa. [Maarufu Mohamed, Standard]

Lack of political will is hindering attainment of gender parity, key leaders have said.

Speaking in Mombasa during a forum whose theme was “A Gendered Approach to Unlocking the Potential for Sustainable Development”, the leaders also cited insufficient funding and cultural factors as hurdles towards implementation of gender laws.

“The question is no longer about the laws, the question is implementation,” noted Priscilla Nyokabi, a commissioner with the National Gender and Equality Commission (NGEC), during discussions at the second annual regional conference sponsored by Kenya Institute for Public Policy Research and Analysis (KIPPRA).

Even though Kenya has developed multiple laws and policies to ensure the attainment of gender equality in all areas, including the two-thirds gender rule, they said the laws and policies remained ineffective due to failure of institutions to implement them.

Lost the will

“We have lost the will, interest and need to recognise that gender equality is important,” noted Nazi Kibwana, the Makueni County Governor's wife.

Mrs Kibwana said socio-cultural stereotypes continued to inhibit the implementation of gender policies, stating that “boys are told to go become leaders while girls are told to wash dishes”.

“Our laws are not being implemented because of lack of political will across the divide because there is no money for it. Parliament does not allocate enough and the executive does not ask for enough and equality is not an entrenched concept,” said Justice Njoki Ndung’u.

“Where there is sufficient political will, things move so fast,” said Naitore Nyamu of Equality Now, adding that the two-third gender rule would have been actualised if parliamentary leaders were committed to passing it.

Narc-Kenya leader Martha Karua said "patriarchy is holding us back. It is a system that prioritises men at the expense of women. For gender equality to thrive, we have to break down patriarchy”.

According to Protus Onyango from the State Department of Gender, poor funding for implementation of gender laws and policies was perpetuated by those in decision-making institutions such as Parliament and Treasury.

However, Gender Affairs Principal Secretary Safina Kwekwe noted that the country had made remarkable gains in implementation of gender laws and policies over the last five years.

For instance, the PS noted, the elimination of user fees in healthcare facilities has transformed healthcare by increasing health-seeking behavior by 10 per cent, a gain that has subsequently reduced maternal deaths.

Additionally, the PS stated, there has been a rise in health coverage from 30 per cent to 45 per cent in the last four years, during which parity has also been recorded in basic education with girls being mentored in Government STEM projects increasing from 400 to 3,800 in just four years.

Rose Ngugi, the Executive Director of KIPPRA, said the three-day conference was aimed at providing stakeholders with a forum where they can interact to support public policy process.

The forum also served to provide solutions to ensure gender policies were implemented.

Winnie Lichuma, the former chair of NGEC, said Kenyans should hold Parliament to account on gender parity.

Nominated MP Agnes Zani Priscilla Nyokabi National Gender and Equality Commission
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