Kenyan women reflect on gains

March 9, 2010 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 8 – As Kenya joined the rest of the world in marking the International Women’s Day on Monday, women leaders acknowledged that they had made remarkable progress in the political arena.

Speaking from her constituency, Runyenjes MP Cecily Mbarire told Capital News that there was increased political participation in the country.

“It has been a great political milestone the fact that we have been able to have more active political participation of women in party structures. We are celebrating having 23 women MPs, the largest number ever since independence,” she said.

She also said it was an achievement that there are women MPs who had expressed interest in the presidency, like Gichugu MP Martha Karua. Ms Mbarire said it was an indicator that women were ready to find a strong political footing in top positions in the country.

She said women MPs were lobbying and motivating their male counterparts in Parliament to ensure that the draft Constitution is passed. The MP said it was favouring the women and when passed it will create more opportunities for them.

But she urged women to still work hard despite the affirmative action and special inclusions in favour of women saying a lot still needed to be done since women were still lagging behind in terms of development and getting opportunities.

She complained that it was unfair that women still had to be pulled back due to cultural beliefs. She said people should abandon old fashioned beliefs that limited the woman’s opportunities of taking up education and leadership roles in the counry.

Speaking from South Africa, Prime Minister’s wife Ida Odinga also praised women for working hard in the political scene but encouraged more women to redouble their efforts to grab more leadership positions.

“Kenyan women have made tremendous achievements. Politically, women have moved forward, we have many women Ministers and Assistant Ministers, we have women holding high positions,” she said.

She further recognised women’s efforts in improving the country’s economic status in their various capacities saying a lot had been achieved compared to previous years.

Mrs Odinga also acknowledged the role women have played in working on the ‘woman friendly’ Constitution. But she raised concerns over girls’ poor performance in the national examinations appealing to the government and parents to do more to support the girl child.

“The girls are still going through a lot of difficulties that stop them from achieving excellent results compared to boys, maybe we have to put more resources in education for girls,” she said.

Mrs Odinga also expressed concerns that women were still dying during birth due to poor medical facilities.

“We still have many young women who die simply because they are not able to reach medical care because they are far spaced, or the centers are too costly or have no knowledge on good health care, we still have a problem,” she complained.

She urged women to rise above political, religion and tribal belonging and preach peace to help the country heal and live in sustainable unity.


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