Regional body to empower Kenyan women

September 2, 2011 4:32 pm

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 2 – The Kenyan chapter of the Professional Women Empowerment Society of East Africa (PROWE) has been launched.

The newest entrant of the pan African organisation – that aims to bridge the gender gap by empowering and motivating professional women to undertake socio-economic and political development – was launched as part of the Month of the Woman Entrepreneur celebrations set to go through September.

Speaking during the launch, the chairman of the Commission for the Implementation of the Constitution (CIC) Charles Nyachae said by women constituting slightly over 50 percent of Kenya’s population, they were the biggest gainers of the Constitution.

“As that section of Kenyan citizens who comprise the majority it’s your Constitution. Protect the process of implementation because the minute you allow someone to derail it they will take us backwards. As women entrepreneurs you have so much to gain from this Constitution,” he said.

According to the World Economic Forum, in the last five years global gender gaps in economic participation and political empowerment remain very wide averaging 60 percent of the economic outcomes gap and 17 percent of the political outcomes.

Also speaking during the ceremony, KEPSA Chairman Patrick Obath said women have to lobby both government and the private sector to establish gender equality in Kenya.

“It is time to create the agenda for gender in those organisations so that women can get the 30 percent and more. What we need is to generate enough women to begin to come up in leadership positions,” he said.

Operating under the auspices of the International Labour Organisation and the Women Entrepreneurship Development and Gender Equality Programme (WEDGE), PROWE has already been established in Uganda and will be launched in Zambia, Ethiopia and Tanzania later this month.

PROWE Kenya’s Interim Chairperson Irene Wanyoike said it was created to develop women’s potential through advocacy, networking and skill development.

“Our mandate is to develop the skills of professional women, to assist women especially now to take their positions and grab the many seats that are there for grabs in this country. Women seem to be shying away from them,” she said.

She added that as the first association that brings together professional women in Kenya, PROWE will encourage women to take centre stage in influencing the economic and political arenas.

Mr Nyachae also addressed the one third gender rule that has been at the centre of much debate recently, clarifying that Article 81 (b) of the Constitution should be based on the principle of equality and not affirmative action.

“The Constitution does not talk about one third. It says no elective public body shall have more than two thirds of its members being of one gender.  What that means is if the day after the next election, the assembly has one gender with more than two thirds that Parliament will not be able to convene,” he said.

He further added that women should be enabled to form companies and do big business across the board.

“Ideally, women and companies owned by women should aim at bidding, qualifying and doing half of the government business. They must therefore learn the trade, engage locally and internationally.”


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