It was an all-inclusive engagement dubbed National consultative forum on gender, equality and women’s empowerment whose theme was “Commitment to Action.’’ In attendance was Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki, Principal Secretary Zeinab W Hussein, the private sector, ActionAid Kenya, the academia force and women leaders.
ActionAid Kenya’s invitation capacity was on its cemented work on Women Economic Empowerment through the Isiolo Kakili project which involves small scale French beans farming for export. AAIK in partnership with the community group mapped out the conflict prone areas where they formed conflict sensitive programming that constituted of training on peace building, rights information and encouraging leadership of women at all levels.
Government initiated service funds including Uwezo Fund, Women Enterprise Fund, Youth Enterprise Development Fund (YEDF) and Affirmative Action Social Development Fund, highly targets women, youth and people with disabilities already in business and sidelines those living in outmost poverty and exclusion without access to any economic activity due to bureaucracy.
With this understanding, ActionAid Kenya recommended that the gap between the women and the funds can only be narrowed down if they’re empowered to take part in economic activities. This can be achieved if the women are mobilized, organized and their capacities build.
“80% of rural women depend on agriculture which is not catered for in the public service funds. They farm, and then sell their produce for monetary gain. To enable qualify for the fund they need to be trained on various skills in new modern technology farming, good infrastructure and a market to sell their produce. Moreover, private sector ought to be also brought on board to purchase these farm products. Our commitment to ensure these women benefit from the funds AAK we’ll collaborate with other stakeholders to enhance simplification of processes for women to access the fund” Makena Mwobobia said.
In addition, the power analysis approach also works best in bringing up the woman living in poverty as it involves training on gender based violence, health, cultural barriers, social issues and unpaid care work. Once this is achieved she can easily work towards being economically empowered and eventually feel confident to tap into the political space.
The meeting was concluded by a reviewed commitment from the Ministry to better address issues of Gender Based Violence, start doing things differently for better results, better plan for GBV cases, spend more time on listening and learning from key stakeholders, develop clear accountability mechanisms, harmonize gender work and invest in the social agenda both at the county and national level.
“What women really want is change we can see and feel” retaliates the Cabinet Secretary Public Service, Youth and Gender Affairs.