Archives September 2019



Nairobi, Friday, 20th September 2019,

This week Kenya is hosting the 12th Commonwealth Women Affairs Ministers’ Meeting (12WAMM), an initiative of the Commonwealth member countries which brings together ministers, senior officials, civil society organisations, academia and development partner agencies to discuss critical issues in advancing women’s empowerment and gender equality in the Commonwealth.

The first meeting was held during the Third World Conference on Women held in Nairobi in 1985. The WAMM meetings have since been held every three years and the hosting is rotated among the Commonwealth regions.

As a Commonwealth member country, Kenya made its contributions to the meeting centered on the priority themes of the commonwealth on gender empowerment: women’s economic empowerment; women in leadership; ending violence against women and girls; and, access to affordable quality health care, a cardinal pillar in the Presidents Big Four Agenda of Universal Health Care.

Additionally, the meeting aimed to build synergies with the ICPD + 25 (Nairobi Summit) that Kenya will be hosting with UNFPA in November 2019.

Kenya shared the progress it has made in terms of policy and legal frameworks to entrench gender equality.

Article 27 of the 2010 Constitution guarantees equality and freedom from discrimination stating that every person is equal before the law and has the right to equal protection and equal benefit of the law.

Beyond the supreme law, the development blueprint Kenya Vision 2030 has reinforced the same. Other policy and legal frameworks have been enacted to promote, enforce and monitor equality and non-discrimination.

These include National Human Rights Policy and Action Plan; The Marriage Act 2014; The Matrimonial Properties Act 2013; The Land Act 2016; and Draft National Policy on Gender and Development among others.

With regard to access to health services, Kenya put in place the Community Health Policy and the Sessional Paper No. 2 of 2017 on the Kenya Health Policy 2014-2030.

These policies ensure free maternity service which has resulted in more safe deliveries with 61 per cent of births being performed by skilled health providers. The government programs ensure that expectant women get free pre and post-natal care which has gone a long way to ensure safe deliveries and proper care for both mother and child.

Kenya recognizes that women’s economic empowerment is critical to achieving gender equality as well as sustainable development which encompasses productive employment and decent work for all, ending poverty and reducing inequalities.

To this end, the Government put in place various programs that include gender mainstreaming, affirmative action and gender-responsive budgeting.

The government has set aside special catalytic funds dedicated to women, persons with disabilities and the youth for development programmes. These include:

  • A Women Enterprise Fund that provides micro-finance credit and other financial support for women;
  • The Youth Enterprise Development Fund that provides credit for young men and women to enable them to establish businesses; and
  • The Uwezo fund that gives seed money as startup capital to the special interest groups.

Others worthy of mention include Access to Government Procurement Opportunity program that reserves 30 per cent procurement opportunities for the vulnerable; and National Government Affirmative Action Fund which runs programs targeting socio-economic empowerment of women, youth, and persons with disabilities, children and elderly persons.

Kenya shared its programs and experiences with regard to prevention and response in the fight against gender-based violence (GBV). Of special reference was the National Policy on Prevention and Response to gender-based violence passed in 2014 which birthed the Protection Against Domestic Violence Act, 2015.  Subsequently, between 2015 and 2016, there were 4,299 newly prosecuted cases of sexual and gender-based violence and 871 convictions.

To monitor and mitigate the effects of GBV, a toll-free hotline (1195) operated with support from various telecom agents is in place. The goal is to involve community members and survivors in the fight against sexual violence, FGM and other forms of violence by ensuring early reporting of all the cases within the recommended 72-hour window.

Ministry of Health is in the process of establishing 47 Gender Based Violence Recovery Centers in the 47 Counties by the year 2022. Four centres have been established where survivors receive integrated medical, and psychosocial support services, access to justice and initial temporary protection in one place.

On inclusive leadership, the Kenya constitution was noted to have served the gender agenda impressively well. Article 27 (8) of the constitution states that, the State “shall take legislative and other measures to implement the principle that not more than two-thirds of the members of elective or appointive bodies shall be of the same gender.”

In addition, the constitution reserves 47 seats for women in the National Assembly and 16 seats for women in the Senate courtesy of Article 98. There are other progressive articles which embed equality and non-discrimination based either on ethnicity, religion, tribe, education, gender, political, economic, cultural and social domains.

Subsequently, there has been tremendous growth in women participating and holding key positions. The trajectory has been upward. After the 2013 general elections, women representation in Parliament increased from 22 women in the 11th parliament to 86 in the 12th parliament while 96 women were elected as members of country assembly.

In 2017, parliament had three women elected and 18 nominated to the Senate, three women elected as Governors, 98 women elected as members of County Assembly while 599 were nominated in fulfilment of the two-thirds gender principle at the County level.

Other sectors fared much better with women accounting for 57% of all practising lawyers, 49% of magistrates, 41% of High court judges, 36% of county commissioners, 33% of Members of County Assemblies and 31% of senators, to mention some important sectors.

These are significant gains by any consideration.

The commonwealth meeting has provided a platform for Kenya to share with the rest of the commonwealth family on its achievements and best practice.

The country has made notable strides in many spheres beyond the commonwealth thematic concerns. However, there is a lot more ground yet to be covered. The outcomes of the 12th WAMM will inform and strengthen the country’s gender agenda going forward.

Like the inaugural meeting in Nairobi of 1985, we expect that the outcome of the current meeting will be as impactful in driving the global gender equality agenda.



Friday, August 15th, 2019

The Ministry of Public Service, Youth and Gender on 15th of August honoured the late Bomet Governor Dr. Joyce Laboso by naming a women’s leaders award in her memory. Named the Purple Ribbon Award, the prize will be awarded to women leaders who display exemplary leadership, courage, perseverance and resilience while promoting national values of peace, human rights and social equity.

During the inauguration event hosted by Cabinet Secretary for the Ministry Public Service, Youth and Gender, Prof. Margaret Kobia and attended by eminent women leaders at a Nairobi hotel, the Cabinet Secretary noted that the award will recognize women and girls who show determination, perseverance and courage in the face of adversity.

“The Award will serve as an affirmation to the achievement and leadership of women in promoting national values, peace, human rights and social equity as exemplified by the late Hon. Dr Joyce Laboso during her life. The late Hon. Laboso demonstrated that true heroism is not achieved by focusing on ourselves, but by moving beyond the self and doing well for all humanity,” she said.

The event was the second since the launch of the program last year by His Excellency President Uhuru Kenyatta to honour women who excel in different sectors of the Kenyan society. The inaugural program last year witnessed the conferment of National Honours to 30 eminent women leaders by His Excellency the President Uhuru Kenyatta.

The Cabinet Secretary commended the Eminent Women for their foresight, struggle and resilience which led to the realization of gender equality and women empowerment. She said that it was from their struggles that women’s rights became recognized as human rights now enshrined in the Kenyan constitution.

Prof. Kobia challenged women in leadership to take the younger women under their wings and mentor them to develop their leadership skills. “Through mentorship we can mold a capable generation from the youthful population that looks up to us for guidance to whom we can pass the leadership baton,” the Cabinet Secretary said.

Among the eminent women leaders in attendance included Kirinyaga Governor Anne Kamotho and Wife of the Former Prime Minister Ida Odinga among others.

By Rogers Muthama



The Ministry of Public Service, Youth and Gender on 9th August 2019, launched 15 refurbished Youth Empowerment Centers in various Counties across the Country.

The centers will serve as resource facilities for youth in the respective regions to access ICT services, guidance and counselling on drugs and substance abuse, HIV/AIDS prevention among other services. They are also equipped to provide positive leisure activities including indoor and outdoor and games.

As one of the activities marking the National Youth Week 2019, fifteen Principal Secretaries from various state agencies commissioned the newly refurbished centers spread out across the country. The Principal Secretaries held conversations with the youth from the respective regions in a bid to identify the immediate needs of the youth from the localities.  

In his statement, the Principal Secretary, State Department of Public Service and Youth Dr. Francis Owino, stated that the Government embraced the idea of establishing Youth Empowerment Centers in 2008 by establishing 152 Centers in over 100 Constituencies by 2012. The centers had remained largely unused and needed refurbishment to make them useful centers for youth.

“In order to make the YECs operational and beneficial to the youth the Ministry embarked on refurbishing 21 Centers in the last financial year 2018/2019,” said Dr. Owino. He noted that the Ministry has allocated funding to refurbish another 60 centers in the current financial year 2019/2020.

Youth Centers are a Vision 2030 flagship project under the social pillar the Government will embark on putting in place the balance of 138 YECs in the remaining Constituencies and Sub- Counties once the existing 152 are fully operationalized.

 “Broadly, the YECs provide safe spaces to address social, economic and health needs, including psychological concerns, prevalent among the youth,” added Dr. Owino in the statement. 17 Youth Centers launched during the National Youth Week were in the counties of Embu, Nairobi, Nyeri, Kirinyaga, Laikipia, Bomet, Nandi, West Pokot, Tharaka Nithi, Machakos, Kitui, Kilifi, Kakemga, Garissa, Mandera, Homabay and Kwale.

Chief Administrative Secretary Hon. Rachel Shebesh Called on the Youth to Maximize Government Opportunities for their Empowerment

Chief Administrative Secretary Hon. Rachel Shebesh Called on the Youth to Maximize Government Opportunities for their Empowerment

Wednesday, August 7th 2019

Youth in Arid and Semi-Arid areas (ASALs) have been challenged to exploit financial interventions put in place by the government to address their specific social- economic needs and to realize empowerment. 

Speaking during the launch of the National Youth Week activities on 7th August at Anchor in Samburu County, Chief Administrative Secretary in the Ministry of Public Service, Youth and Gender Hon. Rachel Shebesh cited the Access to Government Procurement Opportunities (AGPO), which seeks to empower women, youth and persons with a disability by giving these groups 30% of all procurement initiatives without competition from established firms.

“Participation of young people in public procurement is key to create employment, wealth and enhance economic growth and I encourage the young people from Samburu County to compete with other stakeholders for their share of these procurement opportunities,” the CAS challenged the Youth. “In addition, the Government is currently engaging the private sector to extend the same in their own procurements,” she added. 

The CAS noted that already, under the Ministry of ICT Ajira Digital Project, the Government has provided 638,400 youth with continuous training and mentorship opportunities for the acquisition of skills to access digital jobs locally and internationally. 

Hon. Shebesh said in the current financial year the Government will refurbish 60 more YECs arguing that the plan is to have a fully operational Youth Empowerment Centers in every constituency. 

She affirmed that the Ministry is committed in promoting the inclusion of women and youth living with disabilities in social economic development through affirmative action programmes. 

“34 billion Kenya Shillings from UWEZO Fund, YEDF, WEF and NGAAF has been given out to 4.5 million beneficiaries across the country cumulatively since inception to support small businesses,” said the CAS. “Huduma Centers have promoted the ease of doing business by cutting down the bureaucracy and making government accessible under one roof at the grassroots,” she added.

On issues of Gender-Based Violence, Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and early marriages Hon. Shebesh said the victims need to be empowered to come out and not to continue suffering in silence since it has been criminalized with steepened penalties for the perpetrators.

She stated that the Government has also provided free sanitary towels for students in all public primary and secondary schools as well as all female students in special schools which has reduced school absenteeism and increased transition rate.

Kenya, the European Union (EU) and Spain to upscale fight against Gender Based Violence (GBV)

Kenya, the European Union (EU) and Spain to upscale fight against Gender Based Violence (GBV)

The European Union (EU) including Spain have pledged to continue partnering with Kenya through the Ministry of Public Service, Youth and Gender to upscale the fight against Gender Based Violence (GBV).

The Ambassadors of Spain and the EU in the country H.Es Javier Garcia de Viedma and Stefano-Antonio respectively, were speaking during the launch of Kenya-EU-Spain Learning Seminar on the Criminal Justice System on Gender Based Violence at a Nairobi hotel on Thursday.

The seminar which was presided over by the Chief Justice Hon. David Maraga and also addressed by the Cabinet Secretary Prof. Margaret Kobia, seeks to share experience and harmonize efforts at combating Gender Based Violence (GBV).

Justice Maraga elaborated reforms being put in place by the Judiciary to fast track gender based violence cases besides calling for public sensitization on the need to collaborate with Organs charged with combating the vice.

In her remarks, CS Prof Kobia appreciated the support of the Embassy of Spain in collaboration with European Union Delegation in Kenya stating, “It provides an opportunity for criminal justice system peers and anti-GBV Stakeholders from Kenya and Spain to share and cross-learn best practices in prevention, processing, prosecution and adjudication of GBV and human trafficking crimes.

Noting that fighting Gender Based Violence remains one of the pillars in promoting Gender Equality and Women Empowerment (SDG 5), Prof Kobia cited the Government interventions which include development of policies, capacity building, establishment of Gender Based Violence recovery/safe centres and a hot line. 

On her part, distinguished Spanish Judge Ms. Zita Harnandez shared her country’s experience in fighting the vice and elaborated measures being implemented include providing victims of abuse with six months’ unconditional unemployment benefit to give them a new start

She added that the State has pursued successive programmes to combat GBV cases including actualizing national policy, legal besides recognizing that violence against women was a public matter.

The two-day event brought together duty bearers in the Criminal Justice System from Kenya and Spain including the Judiciary, office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, and the Police Service among others to establish strong bilateral networks and forge exchange programs amongst themselves in the fight against GBV and human trafficking.

Moderators of the Seminar were the State Department of Gender Principal Secretary Ms. Safina Kwekwe and Secretary Gender Faith Kasiva.

Others in attendance were Lady Justice Hannah Okwengu, Chairperson, Kenya Women Judges Association (KWJA) Dr. Ruth Kagia, Deputy Chief of Staff Policy and Strategy and senior government officials.