Hopes, challenges in women’s quest for leadership

Thursday, August 5th, 2021 00:00 |
David Maraga shows confidence in Koome
Chief Justice Martha Koome.

Kenya’s women have made significant strides in their efforts to take up more leadership roles.

 As next year’s elections draw close, we should reflect on how we can address barriers to leadership women face today and draw lessons from the milestones they have so far made.

The country recently elevated the first female to the position of Chief Justice. We also have the first woman serving as Auditor General.

In the last election, Kenyans, for the first time, elected three female governors.

We also have 23.3 percent of parliamentarians as women, which has been an improvement every election.

The 2010 Constitution created the Woman Representative seat in the National Assembly to boost their numbers.

Women have been appointed to the Cabinet, parastatals and departmental heads, heads of private sector boards and professional associations.

We have also entrenched gender issues in legislation, policies, budgets, plans and institutional framework, mainstreamed gender in public and private life, established affirmative action programmes, availed resources and set gender quotas in various sectors.

Despite all this, we are ranked by the United Nations Development Programme Gender Development Index based on 2018 data at 110th, a not so good a score.

We should improve this ranking by enhancing gender parity in politics, economy and society.

A gender pay gap persists and a recent study showed that the proportion of women in senior management positions was dismal. Deliberate efforts to give women with children economic opportunities would also improve the ranking.

Globally, three in every four hours of unpaid work are done by women. Pressure is expected to grow as the world’s population ages since it is women who do most of the unpaid work to cater for the elderly and vulnerable family members.

Our social welfare policies and programmes must take cognizance of this by making it mandatory to pay women and men equally.

It is also crucial to improve their recruitment in sectors they are under-represented such as the maritime sector and the military.

Gender equality is a fundamental human rights and an economic empowerment issue. We should all work harder to achieve gender equality.

Political parties must also address barriers that prevent more women from participating in political processes, such as having more into party leadership positions and creation of a conducive environment that minimises intimidation and influence of money as a vehicle to elective positions.

It is unfortunate that women seeking leadership positions in most cases also lack networks. They are also exposed to greater danger when campaigning.

We have come a long way as a nation, and this is a good time to take stock of the progress women have made in leadership and consider how we can build on it in the years to come.  

We must make every effort to build a country in which all kinds of women can flourish in all areas of political, social, and economic life. — The writer is a public policy analyst — [email protected] 

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