Kenyans should support women seeking elective positions in the August 8 elections without discrimination, says Public Service, Youth and Gender Affairs Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki.
Ms Kariuki said women are as capable as men to hold powerful positions. She was addressing representatives from 150 women rights groups from 35 African countries during the opening of the Pan African Women’s Conference.
The three-day forum is the first since adoption of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 2030 in 2015.
It is hosted by Femnet — African Women’s Development and Communications Network — and aims at pushing African governments to effectively deliver on Agenda 2030 for sustainable development.
“Time has come for women to be supported to get whichever positions they are seeking. Allow women to run for elective positions without intimidation,” said Ms Kariuki.
The Cabinet secretary said men have been taking advantage of women who declare interest to run for powerful political positions by insulting them to make them withdraw their candidature.
“Men should hear this; do not abuse women, do not threaten them either physically or verbally,” she said.
The congress is requesting governments to prioritise full implementation of SDGs 2030 and especially Goal 5 on gender equality and empowerment of women and girls.
Ms Kariuki said Kenya is at the forefront of the fight for women and girl rights and is particularly championing to have more women in both elective and appointed positions.
Both the Judiciary and President Uhuru Kenyatta have directed the National Assembly to pass the two-thirds gender rule to enable more women to take up leadership posts.
She said that currently 24 per cent of women occupy senior positions in government, 37 per cent have been appointed to deputise senior positions, 50 per cent are serving in the Judiciary and many others are serving in county governments.
“We are on course to ensuring women and girls have access to good health care and that girls are not subjected to female genital mutilation,” she said.
Other platforms seeking to empower women include the Women Enterprise Fund, the Affirmative Actions, Uwezo Funds and the 30 per cent rule on State tenders to women.
Femnet chairperson Emma Kaliya said no country has been able to achieve gender equality. “Governments should increase finances for women empowerment and ensure that these resources are available,” she said.