Gov’t accelerating gender equality – President Kenyatta

President Uhuru Kenyatta addressing delegates at TICAD meeting in Nairobi. [Photo/PSCU]

Kenya has taken proactive measures to accelerate gender equality and women’s empowerment, President Uhuru Kenyatta has said.

The President cited the establishment of a fully-fledged State Department of Gender Affairs as one of his administration’s efforts to support women’s progress.

He said there are also fully funded Government initiatives, to cater to women, which are backed by legislation.

“They include the Women Enterprise Fund which has disbursed Ksh 8.3 billion since its inception in 2007 and the Uwezo (empowerment) Fund which has disbursed Ksh 5.1 billion since it’s 2013 launch,” President Kenyatta said.

The President was speaking Sunday at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC) during the launch of second Africa Human Development Report themed “Accelerating Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment in Africa”.

The event was held on the margins of the sixth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD VI).

He said Kenya has also initiated the access to government procurement opportunities program that requires every public procurement entity to ensure that at least 30 per cent of its procurement in every financial year is allocated to women, youth and persons with disabilities.

“Through the Access to Government procurement opportunities, beneficiaries have received Ksh 32.2 billion since its inception,” President Kenyatta said.

Other areas where gender inequality has been narrowed, according to the president, include the legislature where women make 25 per cent of Parliamentarians, up from 9.9 per cent in 2007.

At the Cabinet level, he said, women hold 25.5 per cent of the positions while 37 per cent hold high-level positions in judiciary, 34 per cent Principal secretary positions.

President Kenyatta pointed out that at the county level, 50 per cent of all Members of County Assemblies are women.

In the education sector, the president said Kenya has registered great improvement in girls school enrollment and transition rate from primary to secondary school.

He said the free maternity services program in public hospitals has also resulted in a nationwide increase in hospital deliveries with 61 per cent of births being delivered by a skilled health provider.

The president also talked about legislation like the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act of 2015, Prohibition of FGM Act 2011, the Sexual Offences Act 2006 as well as the National Policy on Prevention and Response to Gender Based Violence 2014 which have provided frameworks for the protection of women.

As a demonstration of the Jubilee Government’s commitment to ending harmful socio-cultural practices, President Kenyatta said Kenya will launch the AU campaign on ending child marriage in Africa in october this year.

At the continental level, President Kenyatta said Africa has also made significant progress in advancing the rights of women on the continent.

“We have major continental frameworks that demonstrate our ownership of this issue.  These include: the Maputo protocol, the AU solemn declaration on gender equality in Africa and, more recently Africa’s agenda 2063,” the President said.

The Head of State said Africa has also made progress in terms of implementing global commitments on gender equality and the empowerment of women.

He said the report provide a blueprint with which to move forward and build on the progress already made towards gender equity in Kenya and in Africa.

Speaking at the launch, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Administrator Helen Clark said the report’s recommendations are highly relevant to achieving the African Union’s Agenda 2063 and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

“Gender equality is the sole focus of one of the seventeen SDGs, and is critical to progress across the rest of Agenda 2030,” Ms Clark said.

The report looks at how to address persistent gender gaps across the economic, social, environmental and political spheres.

Ms Clark said giving greater attention to gender equality will support faster and more inclusive human development and economic growth for Africa.

She affirmed UNDP’s commitment to and support for accelerating gender equality in Africa.

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