BY PSCU AND MWAKERA MWAJEFA
Women should be given equal opportunities of authority as men as they are able to deliver in equal measure and there is need for the society to create an enabling environment for them to exercise it (authority).
President Uhuru Kenyatta, speaking during the ongoing Women Deliver 2019 Conference in Vancouver, Canada on Monday (June 3), said this will enable women exploit their skills and talents in providing services to the communities they live in.
“We need to make the society understand that women are as capable as men. We have to create an enabling environment and the opportunity for them to serve,” he said.
According to him cultural and religious barriers as well as stereotypes have continued to be an impediment to women in realizing their potential in leadership and in achieving their dreams of a better society.
The president, attending the conference at the invitation of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, said during his first term in office he made history by appointing six women in key cabinet positions thereby empowering them to impact the Kenyan society.
President Kenyatta, who is representing the African continent at the conference, said he will not relent in pushing for more women to be included in leadership positions and pledged to use his influence to push for the passage of the two third gender law in the Kenyan parliament.
“My government is keen on the involvement of women in leadership roles. We have not accomplished the implementation of the 2/3 gender rule in parliament; we will not relent we will keep pushing,” he added.
The conference focus is on gender equality, the health rights and wellbeing of girls and women across the globe under the theme: ‘power, progress, change’, through which it seeks to inspire women to take up their position in bringing positive change in their societies.
While opening the conference, Prime Minister Trudeau said his country will continue championing gender equality and ensuring that rights of all citizens are respected and protected.
“We are not powerless; it’s up to us to fight back. All of us: women, men, gender diverse people, neighbours and allies across communities. All of us together, all of us standing strong,” he said.
A Zambian young leader Natasha Mwansa challenged political leaders to walk the talk by involving the youth in decision-making as concerns their welfare.
She cautioned governments against enacting policies and programmes concerning the youth without their input.
“It’s about time that governments involve young people in the making of decisions not making us beneficiaries of what they feel we need as young ladies. We need action, words don’t work anymore,” the young leader said.
President Sahle-Work Zewde said her appointment to the highest public office in her country is part of the reform agenda being implemented in Ethiopia and pledged to use her influence to create more opportunities for women.
“When you are a pioneer in something, it is your duty to ensure the door remains open for others to come through,” said President Zewde.
Ghanaian President Nana Akufo Addo challenged women to actively participate in all electoral systems so as to elect more women in political leadership and governance.
“There must be enough dynamism and activism, women must keenly participate in political party processes of empowering women to be in decision making positions,” he advised.
More than 8,000 delegates including world leaders, governments’ representatives, policy makers, influencers, advocates, academics and activists are attending this year’s conference whose agenda is to come up with programmes to accelerate progress for girls and women globally.
On the sidelines of this conference, President Kenyatta held talks with his host Prime Minister Trudeau and Ghanaian President Addo.
In the meeting, the PM praised the Kenyan leader for hosting an 18 African countries’ meeting to discuss conflict and post conflict situations in the continent on the request of the world leaders during the G7 Summit held in Quebec last year.
The meeting held on 22nd May 2018 resulted into the Nairobi call-to-action, a comprehensive road map with clear action points to be undertaken towards the empowerment of women and girls in Africa.
President Kenyatta and the PM agreed on the need to avail resources for the implementation of the road map and support for the various women and girls empowerment initiatives in conflict and post conflict regions of Africa.
The President expressed gratitude to the PM for supporting Kenya’s nascent blue economy sector especially the country’s commitment towards the set up of the Coast Guard Unit and the establishment of marine aquarium and fish processing facilities.
On the other hand, the Prime Minister Trudeau lauded the progress made in the realization of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), a move he said will open up Africa to more world trade.
He expressed Canada’s interest to partner more with Kenya in trade, acknowledging that the country is the bridge to the expansive African market and a definite attraction to investors from the North American nation.
In a separate meeting, President Kenyatta and President Addo agreed to strengthen further the deep-rooted historical and bilateral ties between the two countries.
The two leaders said, Kenya and Ghana have a unique role to play together in ensuring stability, peace and security in East and Western Africa respectively.
They agreed to leverage on the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCTA) to grow trade and people-to-people ties between Kenya and Ghana by enhancing air transport between the two countries.
Ghana, alongside Kenya and Senegal has been identified to pilot the Deliver for Good Initiative that seeks to enhance good practices in gender equality.