JOHANNESBURG, South Africa – President Uhuru Kenyatta has affirmed his government’s commitment to gender quality and women’s empowerment.
He said the government’s affirmative agenda is premised on the genuine conviction that empowering women are key to the development of the nation.
President Kenyatta said measures have been instituted to ensure women’s equal access and full participation in power structures and decision-making.
He spoke in Johannesburg, South Africa on Sunday night during the high level panel discussion on the 25th AU Summit theme “Women Empowerment and Development towards Africa’s Agenda 2063”.
He enumerated the various gains the government has made in women empowerment in the country.
These include strengthening institutional frameworks on gender mainstreaming by strategically locating the Gender Affairs docket directly under The Presidency and deployment of experts across all Government Ministries.
President Kenyatta said his government has provided catalytic funds to Women through a Women Enterprise Fund, a Youth Enterprise Fund as well as an Uwezo Fund, all fully funded by the State.
“My government is implementing the 30 percent Public Procurement Preference and Reservations for Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities,” he added.
The initiative launched under his watch in 2013 in fulfilment of the promise to improve the lives of Kenya’s youth and women, is Kenya’s most ambitious and exciting women economic empowerment initiative, President Kenyatta said.
“Kenya Government procurement accounts for as much as 30pc of GDP which as at June translates into to a minimum of $ 2.2 billion per year worth of business from the government to these target groups,” he added.
President Kenyatta said empowerment of women and youth occupies a centre stage in policy deliberations and has multiplier effects.
“Most importantly, this economic empowerment opportunity is premised on the inclusion of women and recognises them as valued economic partners,” President Kenyatta said.
He urged other countries on the continent to seize the opportunity to close the gender gap through sound policy and legal interventions.
President Kenyatta said Africa stands to gain tremendously from the realm of influence for women in Africa and beyond.
On Education, President Kenyatta said Kenya has achieved gender parity in primary school enrolment and surpassed 103.5pc Primary School Gross Enrolment Rate as a result of implementation of the Free Primary Education policy.
“Elimination of tuition fees at public secondary schools has also boosted the transition rate of girls from primary to secondary school,” the President added.
On women and health, the President said his government in 2013 introduced free maternity services in all public hospitals resulting in a nationwide increase in hospital deliveries.
Women delivering in hospitals have increased from 40 percent to 70 percent due to maternity fees waiver in public hospitals, he said.
With regard to Sexual and gender-based violence, the launch of National Policy for Prevention and Response to Gender Based Violence and signing into law the Prevention against Domestic Violence Act are part of the President’s commitment to lead from the front in women empowerment.
Dozens of African leaders who attended the summit were in agreement that empowering women and youth was an imperative to accelerate socio-economic progress in the continent.
The African Union Assembly has designated 2015 the year of women empowerment in line with Agenda 2063.
The chairperson of the African Union Commission Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma presented each of the 54 member states with an agricultural tiller to symbolically launch the campaign to popularize the summit theme.