Those who joined secondary school when bullying was rife can recall a common saying, “A Form One was to be seen and not heard.”
That was the case for men during the inaugural Sigand Nyinam Convention held in Homa Bay on Sunday night.
The event held at the Governor’s Park, from 6.30 pm to about 4 am, attracted women from Homa Bay, Kisumu, Migori and Siaya counties.
Nyinam is a Dholuo term which means daughters of the lake. The name was derived from the fact that the women hail from four counties which border Lake Victoria.
The women resorted to speaking Dholuo since it is the dominant vernacular language spoken by residents of the four counties.
As the night unfolded, it was evident that the forum was meant specifically for women to be heard.
Even though a number of men attended the bash, the mood was that they were there to be seen and not heard.
They were missing from the programme and the few whose voices were heard were artistes, including Onyi Papa J and Tony Nyadundo. Others provided security and technical advice behind the scenes.
At about 8 pm, Azimio leader Raila Odinga's wife Ida Odinga who was the chief guest arrived. She was received by Homa Bay Governor Gladys Wanga, Rangwe MP Lilian Gogo and Suba North MP Millie Odhiambo.
Others who attended the event were nominated Senator Beatrice Ogola, women reps Ruth Odinga (Kisumu), Christine Ombaka (Siaya) and Fatuma Mohamed (Migori) and Kabondo Kasipul MP Eve Obara.
Invited guests from outside Nyanza included Dr Ruth Masha, the CEO of the National Syndemic Diseases Control Council (NSDCC).
The event began with entertainment from female musicians. The musicians included benga maestro Lilian Aoko (Princes July), Susana Owiyo, Esther Akoth (Akothee) and Linet Aluoch Pamba.
The event began with speeches to mark the launch of Nyinam Convention. The objective of Nyinam Convention is to create a forum for advocating for the rights of girls and well-being of women in the region.
Wanga, the senior most female elected leader in Nyanza, said the convention will encourage women to contribute in leadership roles to improve lives of girls in Nyanza.
Women who excel in various categories will be awarded special titles. These titles include Sulwe Mar Nyanam (SMN), Nyarnam Ma Ratego (NMR), Nyarnam Ugwe Wanga (NUW) among others.
She urged county assemblies in the region to make legislation for the various titles.
“I want our county assemblies to make legislation so that we can publish the titles in the Kenya Gazette. This will enable women to use the titles for official purposes,” Wanga said.
Ida Odinga, Phoebe Asiyo, Grace Onyango, Grace Ogot and Grace Olum were among the women honoured during the launch.
Dr Masha said out of 10 mothers giving birth in hospital in the region, five are girls.
Ida said time had come for leaders in the region to put strategies in place to protect girls’ sexual rights. She said failure to do so will deny the region female leaders in future.
Dr Gogo reaffirmed the significance of women’s unity in championing the rights of girls in the region.