Women's rights meeting pledges to address social injustice, mentor leaders

Some of the participants who attended the 3rd edition of the Annual Women's Rights Convention. [Jayne Rose Gacheri, Standard]

A two-day convention on women’s rights closed its doors Friday with a strong message through a Communique that touched on many issues, including milestones and challenges that affect women, especially in their leadership quest. 

Cabinet Secretary (CS) for Public Service, Gender and Affirmative Action Aisha Jumwa, who officially opened the Convention on Wednesday, lauded the organisers of the convention for planning the event when Kenyan women are rising in leadership nationally and across the globe.

The event hosted by Crawn Trust, Care Kenya, University of Nairobi Women Economic Empowerment (WEE) Hub, and Echo-Network Africa was themed “Inclusive Governance: Sote Pamoja". 

Setting out the phase for the third edition of the Annual Women’s Rights Convention, Ms Jumwa said it was important to understand the status of the rights of women through reflection on where they were coming from, where they were, the gains, challenges, and opportunities they faced. 

“By doing this, women will be better informed on innovative strategies they can employ to further advance their cause, which calls for greater solidarity among networks that share a vision of transforming the political, social, and economic landscape across generations,” said the CS. 

According to Daisy Amdany, Executive Director of Crawn Trust, the forum provided space for gender advocates across the country to converge with the sole purpose of supporting and sustaining transformative women’s leadership movements. 

“The forum provided space for women from across the 47 counties to converge and discuss issues, gains, and challenges in a deliberate and strategic way of fostering discussions on inclusive governance towards improving women’s representation in leadership positions and to promote the theme “Sote Pamoja", which translates to 'All together' in Kiswahili,” said Amdany. 

The convention applauded the collaborative approach and commitment of the government to work with women as demonstrated through the appointment of Hon Aisha Jumwa as the CS for Gender and Affirmative Action. 

In order to build a truly transformative and inclusive governance movement, the women committed not to lose sight of the mission to ensure no woman is left behind, especially at the grassroots level, and to harness the skills that lay dormant within marginalised groups.

The convention noted with concern the barriers to women's political participation including discrimination based on age and marital status, objectification and shaming through derogatory language and online attacks, especially from male competitors, gatekeeping to certain spaces, lack of access to finance, and physical and sexual violence. 

Among other recommendations, they called for the adoption of a broad-based action plan that gives space for women to access leadership positions across all spheres. 

They further called for the need to address the underlying causes of poverty and injustices among the marginalised groups in order to achieve equality through building agency and transforming structures to fight discriminatory social norms. 

In conclusion, the women agreed that after taking stock of women’s political participation and assessing the state of inclusive governance in Kenya, there is a need for the adoption of a collaborative approach to steer the women's movement and other stakeholders in order to achieve the implementation of the two-thirds gender rule. 

“We must always keep focus on the goal, we must always remember that the essence of the movement is ‘Sote Pamoja’, and we must not leave any woman behind,” said Rahab Muiu, Maendeleo Ya Wanawake Organisation chair.

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