NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 13 – President Uhuru Kenyatta has challenged women to use their numbers and voting power to boost gender equity.
He said women, who constitute over 50 percent of the country’s population, possess the ability bring about positive change in Kenya.
“Let us all play our individual and collective roles effectively and change our mindsets to ensure that changes of national interest occurred in the country,” President Kenyatta said.
He spoke Thursday at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre in Nairobi when he opened the Nairobi +30 conference and launched the two-thirds gender principal campaign to facilitate gender equity.
The first world conference on women was held in Mexico in 1975, followed by Denmark in 1980, Kenya in 1985, and China in 1995.
He said since the 1st World Conference on Women was held in Mexico, major achievements have been realised in gender equity.
“Women now hold major leadership positions right across this continent. That advance has been matched by unprecedented economic empowerment,” the President said, adding that more needs to be done, as indicated in the recent review of the implementation of the Beijing Platform of Action.
President Kenyatta said although progress in the empowerment and involvement of women has been slow and uneven across the globe, Kenya has been at the forefront in facilitating gender equality.
The Head of State said Kenya has deliberately broken away from the old habit of exclusion and embraced equality for women as enshrined in the new Constitution.
He said the Constitution imposes a duty on the State to use legislative and other measures, including affirmative action, to realise gender equality, pointing out that within one election cycle in Kenya, women’s representation in Parliament has risen from 9.9 to 25 percent.
“As President, it is my obligation to protect the Constitution of Kenya. That means defending, among others, its provisions on gender equality,” President Kenyatta said.
He pointed out that six out of the 18 Cabinet Secretaries are female, with portfolios range from Defence, and Devolution and Planning, to Foreign Affairs.
At county level, President Kenyatta said women account for 6 percent of elected members of county assemblies.
Although there is no female Governor, the President said female Deputy Governors make up 19 percent, while more than a third of County Commissioners are women.
In the Judiciary, President Kenyatta said the Deputy Chief Justice and the Chief Registrar of the Judiciary are women, the Supreme Court consists of 28.6 percent of women, the Court of Appeal consists of 30.8 percent women while in the High Court 40.7 percent are women.
“This means that the gender threshold has nearly been met in the senior levels of the Judiciary,” the President added, saying in constitutionally mandated National Commissions, women lead four of the 10 commissions.
President Kenyatta said his government has begun life-changing initiatives by providing funds to women through the Women Enterprise Fund, Youth Enterprise Development Fund and the UWEZO Fund for women, youth and people with disabilities.
He said Kenya has also introduced a 30 per cent Public Procurement Preference for women, youth and people with disabilities.
“My government’s procurement accounts for as much as 30 percent of the country’s GDP, which translates into a minimum of Sh20 billion a year worth of business,” he said, adding that since the inception of the initiative in June 2013 more than Sh15.6 billion worth of tenders have been allocated to groups, majority of them belonging to women.