A leading Kenyan women development and empowerment organisation, which has announced setting up of a fund to help women who aspire to run for political office, has said the assistance would also be extended to those vying for other competitive elective offices such as in the trade union movement.
Dr Jennifer Riria, Kenya Women Holding chief executive, told a forum on the sidelines of the Commission on the Status of Women at the UN Headquarters in New York, that the Democracy Trust Fund would go beyond political offices as it seeks to ensure a balance of gender in all spheres of leadership in Kenya.
"Women are not one dimensional beings and a proper response to their comprehensive wholistic approaches is necessary,'' Dr Riria told the gathering which was also addressed by the PS for Gender Safina Kwekwe and World Women Banking president Mary Ellen.
It was attended by a large number of Kenyans who included Controller of Budget Agnes Odhiambo, a number of women MPs and officials of the ministry of Gender who are in New York to attend the 62nd session of the commission.
The endowment fund, Dr Riria, also founder of the Kenya Women Finance Trust said, would also provide training as well as funds to build the next pool of women leaders in all spheres. to create a pipeline of women leaders, the fund would also strive to pair up senior women and younger ones.
"Left to grow organically, the world will take 217 years to achieve gender equality,'' she said, adding that economically empowered women were better placed to provide an all round leadership.
The fund by Kenya Women Holding is slated to be participatory and contributory, by a target group.
The organisation, Dr Riria told her audience at the Church Centre of the United Nations, would ensure that the initiative is solid and a sustainable alternative funding mechanism for promoting gender equality in Kenya. The fund would also be used to support "all processes that empower and build capacity for women,'' she explained, singling out lack of access to to financial resources as a key hindrance to women candidates in running effective electoral campaigns.
"Nexes of political power and money is real,'' Dr Riria noted, adding that the organisation would in addition, pursue "an inclusive agenda'' by integrating the youth and people with disabilities in their programs and interventions.
The fund, which has been registered as a trust, she explained, would be managed by a board of trustees from different professions, "and who have a record of supporting women's participation in national leadership as a human rights issue."
Kenya Women Holding was founded in 1981 and operated under the name of the Kenya Women Finance Trust.