How women and girls fared this year

Tuesday, December 24th, 2019 14:00 |
FGM, How women and girls fared this year.

World record breaker

Chef Maliha Mohammed brought the world to a standstill on August 8, 2019 at Kenya Bay Beach resort when she broke the record for the longest nonstop cooking hours.

The 36-year-old single mother of two cooked for 75 hours nonstop, breaking the previous record of 68 hours 30 minutes 01 seconds set by Rickey Lumpkin in the US in 2018.

Maliha prepared 400 recipes of local and international foods to have her name in the Guinness World Records. The food was later distributed to the needy.

Nairobi meet for population

The 25th anniversary of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) 2019 was convened by the governments of Kenyan and Denmark and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) to highlight the gaps in availing sexual rights and reproductive health services to women and girls.

Among issues discussed were maternal mortality, family planning, gender based violence, ending harmful practices against women and girls and advancing gender diversity in leadership.

However, the event was marred with controversy as the church claimed it promoted homosexuality and abortion, hence organised a parallel event to counter it. 

Nominated for anti-FGM app

Five students from Kisumu Girls School were nominated for the Sakharov Prize for developing a mobile app to help girls affected by female genital mutilation.

Stacy Owino, Cynthia Otieno, Purity Achieng, Mascrine Atieno and Ivy Akinyi, known as the ‘Restorers’, want to use the i-Cut app to connect survivors of FGM to legal and medical assistance.

Although they did not win the Sh5.6m prize, it is clear they are at the front row in fighting against the deadly vice that has brought pain to girls from many parts of Kenya. 

Commitment to end FGM

Still related to FGM, it was a great win for women and girls when religious and cultural leaders from 22 counties with high prevalence of the age-old practice made a declaration in November to support President Uhuru Kenyatta’s plan to end the illegal practice by 2022.

FGM has been linked to culture and religion for years, promoting its perpetual existence and giving birth to new strategies including medical and cross-border FGM.

Increase in femicide 

Violence against women has been on the rise in Kenya recently. This year alone, it was reported at least 80 women were killed, with most cases involving intimate partners.

This confirms a 2018 UN report that stated the home is the most dangerous place for women in the world.

The spike in deaths has been attributed to normalisation of gender-based violence and toxic masculinity, promoted by socialisation and power imbalance between men and women. 

2/3 Gender bill fail

In terms of leadership, women lost out with the failure of the two-thirds gender bill, which sought to ensure representation of women at all levels of leadership.

It flopped for the fourth time this year, with only 174 members present during its debate. For it to pass, it required 233 out of 349 members of the National Assembly to support it. 

Teenage pregnancies

Despite many efforts to address teenage pregnancies in Kenya, it is still on a threatening rise.

UNFPA highlighted that in 2019, 28,932 girls aged 10 -14 and 349,465 girls aged 15-19 were impregnated. 

Narok, Homa Bay, West Pokot, Tana River, Nyamira, Samburu, Migori and Kwale counties lead in teen pregnancies in 2019. The counties that posted the low rates are Embu, Nyeri and Muranga.

Such pregnancies come with adverse effects including birth complications and dropping out of school.

The increasing numbers have also raised concerns over sex education, in a country where sex is still considered taboo.

Menstrual hygiene taboo

Menstrual health took centre stage in 2019, especially after a 14-year-old girl committed suicide after a teacher shamed her over menstrual stain.

The incident brought discussions on gaps and misses in menstrual health management, which picked up after billboards of women with disability were put up to highlight unique challenges they face. 

The Basic Education (Amendment) Act 2017 provides for the provision of free, sufficient and quality sanitary towels to girls in schools in Kenya.  

More on Lifestyle