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It’s a tough road for women — gender commission

Kajiado East MP Peris Tobiko, Wajir Woman Rep Fatuma Gedi, Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru and Homa Bay Woman Rep Gladys Wanga (right) at Keruguya County Stadium during International Women’s Day celebrations.

Barriers such as exploitation of girls and female genital mutilation have slowed the participation of women in labour, governance and education, the gender commission has said. National Gender and Equality Commission chairperson Joyce Mutinda said women in top positions have offered leadership despite the challenges, for instance in the Covid-19 fight. Significant progress has been since the 1990s, with more women occupying positions of leadership, the commission said. Data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics show women representation in politics was only three per cent in the 1990s. This number increased in 2019 to 31.3 per cent in Senate and 21.8 per cent in the National Assembly. In the Judiciary, women magistrates constitute 53.3 per cent. “Although the minimum-set threshold of representation and participation of women at the national level is yet to be realised, significant progress has been made,” Mutinda said. To mark International Women’s Day, the commission celebrated pacesetters and trailblazers who have advocated for women’s and girl’s rights. This year’s International Women’s Day theme is: Women in Leadership: Achieving an Equal Future in a Covid-19 World. The commission said while the daily statistics on the rate of Covid-19 infections have depicted higher numbers among men, more women have been affected. Mutinda said women have been on the frontline as caregivers in the fight against Covid-19 despite the risk of infection by the virus. Mutinda said in the household, the contributions of women and girls to unpaid work have increased.

“With the revamping of the home-based care program for Covid-19 patients, women and girls take care of children, the elderly and family members infected by the virus,” Mutinda said. The restrictions to movement and confinement of persons at home have also exposed women to intimate partner violence, she said. Kajiado East MP Peris Tobiko, Wajir Woman Rep Fatuma Gedi, Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru and Homa Bay Woman Rep Gladys Wanga (right) at Keruguya County Stadium during International Women’s Day celebrations. As the country recovers from the adverse effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, Mutinda said the commission applauds the government for sustained efforts towards women economic empowerment programmes. The financial stimulus package directed to women enterprises have supported the revival and survival of women-led businesses, she said. Mutinda said the IWD theme of this year celebrates the tremendous efforts by women and girls around the world in shaping a more equal society in times of pandemics. She noted that the journey towards leadership and fair representation of women in the social-economic and political spheres in Kenya has been long and winding. “It can be traced back to the colonial period when the Maendelo Ya Wanawake Movement, a national grassroots movement, was registered in 1952. Since then, in every decade, there have been several initiatives developed to promote the inclusion, participation and representation of women in varying sectors of life. All of which have yielded some gains,” she said. – the-star.co.ke