Kenyan women urged to take up leadership

September 3, 2010 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 3 – Civil Society Organisations are urging women to take advantage of the provisions set out for them in the new Constitution and increase their efforts in reaching out for leadership positions.

According to Community Aid International, many women shy away from key positions and lose out on the benefits they bring.

Executive Director Joseph Kwaka said that building confidence in themselves will enable women to step up to leadership.

"It is one thing for the Constitution to create space for leadership and opportunities for leadership and governance for women but it is another thing altogether to have women availing themselves to that leadership," he said.

"Women are often called upon to join schools boards and different committees for devolved funds but they underrate themselves and think that they are not worth being in those committees," he added.

Mr Kwaka further stressed the need to sensitise women on the various provisions in the new Constitution that will benefit them.

"The next phase of struggling to have women to take up positions and spaces provided for them by the new Constitution is about sensitising women to avail themselves for leadership," he stated. "It is about training women to provide quality leadership than ever before. Having those women to fight for other women to join such boards."   

Meanwhile, the Federation of Women\’s Lawyers executive director Grace Maingi has called on Civil Society Organisations to be actively involved in civic education exercises on the new Constitution.

She said that this will make Kenyans more aware of the contents of the new law.

"The other key issue is civic education and engagement. It is very important for us to take up that key role to educate our citizens so that they can effectively participate," the FIDA boss stated.

"Once the Civil society plays its key role, you will see that the citizenry are more informed and able to play their role effectively," she said.

She expressed FIDA\’s commitment to ensure that the bill of rights is adhered to by offering litigation services to those whose rights have been encroached on.

"The other key role the civil society has to play is to ensure realization of human right and one way to do this is to litigate. The bill of rights has opened a big avenue for us to litigate on behalf of citizens when their rights are violated," she said.

"Therefore the onus is on us to engage judicial officers. Let us see judicial activism coming up," she stated.

The Caucus For Women\’s Leadership Programme Manager Peter Ocholla reiterated FIDA\’s sentiments stressing the need to especially sensitise the local communities on the land clause in the new law.

He says many communities do not recognise women\’s rights with respect to land inheritance and ownership.

He emphasised the need for continuous sustained campaigns on the land issue to change the mind set of local communities.

"When a man dies and the widow is left, nine out of 10 times, she has no access to ownership of that land.  Title deeds are a rumor in many areas and you then find a lot of landlessness," he said.

"So when we are reforming our land, we must also focus on those communities\’ perceptions and attitudes in a sustained campaign," he added.


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