Kenya: First Lady Margaret Kenyatta has stressed the need to empower women with job and business skills that will enable them to independently earn a living.
The First Lady said most married women were forced to put up with abusive relationships due to inability to support themselves.
“A woman who can earn a living is full of confidence and self-respect and is an asset to the community,” she said.
The First Lady spoke Friday night during the Gender Violence Recovery Centre (GVRC) Gala Dinner at Nairobi Arboretum gardens.
She said the envisioned change cannot be realised when women lack knowledge and resources.
The First Lady also said girls should be accorded the opportunity to acquire quality education in order to understand their rights and fight for them in homes, communities and nationally.
She called on Kenyans to discard retrogressive cultural practices like female genital mutilation (FGM) that continue to plague young girls, blaming the conspiracy of silence to the violence and suffering that continue to afflict women in the country.
“If we are to protect our daughters from the violence and suffering that so often afflicts the women of this country, then our course is unavoidable: Ee have to speak publicly about these painful things,” she said.
The First Lady added that the violence against women, men and children are germs bred by silence and they all need assistance to find their voices starting in their homes and families.
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“Let us treat every woman and girl the way we would want to be treated, and let us teach our sons to respect their mothers and sisters,” she said.
The First Lady pointed out that her “Beyond Zero campaign” has firmly convinced her of the need and value of raising awareness for gender violence among other issues.
She lauded the Gender Violence Recovery Centre (GVRC) and Nairobi Women’s hospital for their brave fight against gender-based violence and challenged them to devolve their activities to all counties.
The First Lady invited institutions to form teams, to train and join her for the inaugural First Lady’s Half-Marathon on March 9 to raise funds for disadvantaged mothers and children to access quality healthcare.
Supreme Court Judge Lady Justice Njoki Ndungu called for effective involvement of more women in formulation of programmes and policies that directly affected them.
Lady Justice Ndungu, who sponsored the Sexual Offences Bill during her stint in parliament, regretted that gender-based violence is highest among pregnant women, yet most gender policies and decisions are made by men.
She challenged elders to scale-up boys’ mentorship programmes that would curb violence against women. Njoki is the GVRC Board of Trustees chairperson.
Nairobi Women’s Hospital CEO Dr Sam Thenya said a 1 million fathers’ sign-up campaign has been launched with the explicit objective of bringing on board more men to stand in solidarity with women to end gender-based violence.
Dr Thenya described gender violence as a societal problem which requires the involvement of all Kenyans in solving it.
The Gender Violence Recovery Centre has been providing specialized medical treatment and psycho-social support to survivors of sexual and domestic violence who cannot afford treatment since 2001.