Archives 2021

Advancing the Discussion on the Inclusion of Widows during 65th Session of Commission on the Status of Women

Cabinet Secretary, Prof. Margaret Kobia, yesterday attended a virtual side event on the 65th session of Commission on the Status of Women hosted by the Global Fund for Widows. The theme of the event was dubbed ‘Widowhood, Empowerment, and the Path to Public Life’.

Worldwide, it is estimated that there are over 250 million widows and nearly one in ten face discrimination and extreme poverty, along with their families with growing armed conflict, HIV and Aids, Pandemic and other threats.

In Kenya, there are approximately 4 million widows according to the Government census of 2019, who continue to face challenges that involve disinheritance, discrimination and harmful traditional practices that include cleansing rites and sexual violence.

The challenges faced by widows are an impediment to the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals.

In her address, Prof. Kobia highlighted the policy and legislative framework in place for widows in Kenya. “The Government of Kenya is reviewing its policy and legislative frameworks to facilitate the protection and empowerment of widows. In recognition of the economic and social contribution of women, including widows, to our societies, the Government is committed to empower women economically and strengthen their land, property and inheritance rights, ” she said.

The Cabinet Secretary noted the Government’s achievements in addressing the plight of widows including the establishment of pioneering programs for widows through the Ministry of Public Service and Gender that gives space for widows in political participation in local and national government.

She expressed the Government’s commitment to lead on mainstreaming widowhood as a human rights issue that must be addressed to provide them with opportunity, access, and inclusion.

On her part, UN Women Executive Director, Dr. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka said the violation of rights of widows is a global phenomenon and called for policies to address the issue. “It is important to address these issues and ensure there is a policy and legal environment for women to have recourse,” she said.

She challenged the participants to engage in discussions that will help member states to confront the issues faced by widows at the national and international level. Global Goodwill Ambassador for Widows in Peace and Security, Dr. Alie Kabba said widows globally have been left behind for too long as they continue to suffer without being acknowledged.

“In my capacity in the UN Security council and as the Global Goodwill Ambassador for Widows in Peace and Security I pledge to ensure the plight of widows is given a lasting resolution and accorded their human fundamental rights and end their human rights violations which they are faced with everyday,” he said.

Other guest speakers during the side event were Sierra Leone Minister for Gender and Children’s Affairs, Hon. Manty Tarawalli, Liberian Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection, Mrs. Williametta Saydee, Women’s World Banking President and CEO, Mary Ellen Iskendarian among others.

By Nelly Kosgey

National Stakeholders Dialogue on the 65th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW65).

Chief Administrative Secretary for Gender, Hon. Jebii Kilimo, on 18th March, 2021 presided over a virtual national stakeholders dialogue on the 65th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW65).

The Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) is the principal global intergovernmental body exclusively dedicated to the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women.

During the Commission’s annual two-week session, representatives of UN Member States, civil society organizations and UN entities gather at UN headquarters in New York. They discuss progress and gaps in the implementation of the 1995 Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, the key global policy document on gender equality, and the 23rd special session of the General Assembly held in 2000 (Beijing+5), as well as emerging issues that affect gender equality and the empowerment of women. Member States agree on further actions to accelerate progress and promote women’s enjoyment of their rights in political, economic, and social fields.

This year’s CSW65 session is being conducted virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic under the theme “women’s full and effective participation and decision-making in public life, as well as the elimination of violence, for achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls.”

The State Department for Gender is organising through a multi-sectoral committee, Kenya’s participation in a series of side events and activities.

In her statement today, Hon. Kilimo noted that Kenya had made significant progress in addressing the areas of concern on the Beijing Platform for Action and said that the theme on women’s leadership and addressing related violence is timely as the country gears for the General Election next year.

“As a country, we have made steady progress in enhancing women’s participation in decision-making and public life. Notably as evident in key positions held by women. In the Executive, the number of women Cabinet Secretaries has gradually increased from a paltry 18.8% in 2012 to the current 33.3% in 2021. In the Legislature, women represent 22% of elected members and 18% of nominated positions in the National Assembly, 27% of elected and 86% of nominated positions in Senate and 34% Members of the County Assembly. In the Judiciary, the Deputy Chief Justice and the Chief Registrar of the Judiciary are women. As at 2020, women constituted 40% out of the 108 judges. Near gender parity has been achieved at the magistracy level with males accounting for 244 magistrates and females at 215. Further, the judiciary has started to produce a body of constitutional jurisprudence on gender equality.

Principal Secretary for Gender, Prof. Collette Suda urged the stakeholders to fully engage in the process as required even under challenging circumstances to ensure the Government’s obligations on Gender are fulfilled.

“You will have the opportunity to interact with the country position paper and give your input for ownership,” she said.

On her part, UN Women Country Representative, Ms. Anna Mutavati acknowledged that the CSW continues to play a critical role in setting global standards and the resultant review of progress made in the advancement of women and girls in all spheres of life. She pledged commitment from UN Women in working with all actors to realize the vision of a more prosperous and fair world for all.

Present at the virtual meeting was Hon. Senator Petronila Were, National Gender and Equality Commission Chairperson, Dr. Joyce Mwikali Mutinda and CEO, Betty Nyabuto, Uwezo Fund Board CEO, Peter Lengapiani, among other Ministry officials and various national CSW stakeholders.

By Nelly Kosgey

The Coca Cola ‘When Women Lead’

Cabinet Secretary, Prof. Margaret Kobia today presided over a Coca Cola webinar event dubbed ‘When Women Lead’, where she laid emphasis on Government policies that are meant to address gender equality challenges.

She highlighted the role of the State Department for Gender in policy formulation, development and coordination to ensure gender equality.

“Having clear policies and funding to support the implementation is very crucial because it helps in addressing gender equality challenges and the realization of SDG 5, ” said Prof. Kobia.

The Cabinet Secretary said despite cultural issues which create barriers for gender equality and more so women representation in leadership positions, gender equity and gender equality contribute to economic development.

The webinar was attended by Deborah Mallowah, Vice President East and Central Africa, Coca Cola, Dr. Vijooh Ratansi, Chancellor, Nairobi University, Jeremy Owori, CEO Absa Bank among others.

By Brian Were

Public Service HR Officers Trained on Mental Wellbeing

Public Service HR Officers Trained on Mental Wellbeing

The training of public service human resource management and development officers on essential counselling skills kicked-off yesterday, March 15th, at the Kenya School of Government, Embu campus.

The month-long training programme aims to equip officers with knowledge on the role of counselling in managing human resources in the public service and to generate mental health champions equipped with basic counselling skills. The training will also highlight the signs and symptoms of psychological disorders such as depression, substance abuse disorders as well as address emergent mental health challenges within the work environment.

The training, the second of its kind, comprises of 150 senior HR officers and line managers drawn from various Ministries, Departments, State Corporations and Counties. The cohort will be taken through a counselling curriculum developed by the State Department for Public Service in conjunction with the Kenya School of Government. The first cohort of 41 mental health champions was trained in February 2020.

While opening the training session, the Director of Human Resource Policy at the State Department for Public Service, Mr. Benrodgers Milaih, who was representing the Principal Secretary for Public Service noted that the current mental health trends in the country are of great concern to the Government with depression and substance abuse disorders being the two main contributors to the worrying and frequent cases of suicides, homicides and femicide. This situation is reflected in the public service as indicated by the clinical records in the counselling unit.

He noted that the Covid – 19 pandemic has exacerbated the mental health situation at the work place and this has negatively impacted work productivity. “It is in view of this prevailing situation that we find this capacity building exercise to be timely and appropriate for human resource officers because of your daily interaction with public servants and therefore are at a vantage point to be able to identify and assess the psychological needs of staff,” he remarked.

According to the World Health Organization (2019) Kenya is ranked sixth in Africa in terms of depression cases, having increased by 18% since 2005. Between 76% and 85% of people in low and middle-income countries receive no treatment for their mental disorders. This is attributed to insufficient trained health-care providers, high levels of social stigma and inaccurate assessment of the disorders.

By Andrew Ishepai

OECD: Effective Strategies on Financing GEWE Programs

Cabinet Secretary, Prof. Margaret Kobia yesterday joined partners in a virtual event organized to celebrate International Women’s day. The event, organized by OECD Development Co-operation Directorate was held under the theme ‘From recovery to sustainable development: Where is the money for gender equality and women’s empowerment? ‘.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is an international organization that works to build better policies for better lives and has 60 years of experience and insights to better prepare the world of tomorrow. Together with governments, policy makers and citizens, they work on establishing evidence-based international standards and finding solutions to a range of social, economic and environmental challenges.

The discussions by participants centered on effective strategies on financing Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment programs.

The Global Gender Index of 2020 report indicates that gender gap is widest globally in the economic participation and opportunity sub index which stood at only 58 percent. This indicates that economically, women are more vulnerable to economic shocks brought about by crises including COVID-19 pandemic.

“The impact of the pandemic on women has been significant. It has led to loss of jobs, increase in GBV cases and has eroded the gains made in the fight for gender equality.” Prof. Kobia noted.

She pointed out that Kenya developed a blue-print ‘Building Back Stronger: Transforming the Kenyan Economy Post-COVID-19’, which among other strategies, addresses the socio-economic impacts of COVID-19, including targeted women’s economic strategies and cash transfer programming; containment and mitigation measures to address the burden of care work, particularly those that affect women and girls, including supporting them to recover and build resilience for future shocks; and, programs and policies to provide economic relief based on needs and vulnerabilities.

The Cabinet Secretary added that in order to address gender inequalities and create meaningful change, development partners need to scale up their investment support across key sectors and ensure full participation of women in all Post-COVID-19 response and recovery mechanisms. She called on partners to complement government efforts by increasing their focus on social protection and through skills development and widening their market opportunities. She called on them to invest in programmes that seek to end violence against women and increase access to healthcare, including sexual and reproductive health services.

“The global public health crisis has direct implications on gender equality and women’s empowerment. Kenya stands in solidarity with the rest of the world and will continue to advocate for effective response and recovery for the gendered dimension of COVID 19, leaving no one behind and towards achieving Sustainable Development Goals.” She concluded.

Ring the Bell for Gender Equality

Ring the Bell for Gender Equality

Cabinet Secretary, Prof. Margaret Kobia today presided over the 7th Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE) “Ring the Bell for Gender Equality” annual event in commemoration of International Women’s Day 2021. This year’s IWD theme is “Women in Leadership: Achieving an Equal Future in a Covid-19 World”.

In her remarks, Prof. Kobia noted that although progress has been made in gender equality and women empowerment, COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the world order not only in health sector but in all spheres of our lives. She pointed that about 70% of women who are in the frontline health services are making great sacrifices in supporting the efforts to combat the pandemic and its effect.

The Cabinet Secretary indicated that emerging research has revealed that women representation in sectors such as education, hospitality, wholesale and retail trade, arts and recreation, and public administration is expected to decline due to COVID-19.

“Women-owned micro, small and medium enterprises which rely on tourism have also been affected, because of greatly reduced travel and visitor arrivals globally. We need to pause and ask ourselves – does women leadership matter during such a setback?” she paused.

She further commended NSE and its member institutions for making great contribution in promoting women leadership for gender equality. “This is demonstrated by NSE being a signatory to the Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPS) and adopting the seven (7) principles into its business strategy and practice,” she said.

Prof. Kobia said the report that was commissioned by NSE in 2019 to undertake a survey to evaluate Kenyan listed companies on their performance on gender equality in the workplace has played a key role in influencing policy and programming in Kenya in regard to advancing women equality in the workplace, effectively empowering women to fully contribute to the growth of the economy.

By Nelly Kosgey

Pursue Leadership Positions At All Levels, First Lady Margaret Kenyatta Encourages Women

Pursue Leadership Positions At All Levels, First Lady Margaret Kenyatta Encourages Women

First Lady Margaret Kenyatta has encouraged more women to actively seek elective and other positions of leadership both at national and county levels.

While applauding the current 23 percent representation of women in the National Assembly, the First Lady said more work needed to be done to achieve the constitutionally proposed two-thirds gender rule.

“Let us continue working, together, for the progress we all believe in. And let us begin with ourselves, in our own spaces, in our homes, in our schools and with our children.

“We know that women can bring a difference in leadership by ensuring that the needs and aspirations of women and men, boys and girls are addressed equitably,” the First Lady said as she rooted for enhanced gender equality and women empowerment especially during the COVID-19 era.

First Lady Margaret Kenyatta spoke Monday 8th March, 2021 when she presided over virtual celebrations to mark this year’s International Women’s Day (IWD) under theme ‘Women in Leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world’.

The First Lady pointed out that the theme of this year’s IWD calls for women leadership, saying it is timely and resonates well with the current global situation.

“It highlights the need for us to demand for a level playing field for women and girls irrespective of race, religion or social background,” she said.

The First Lady emphasized the need for women to lend their voice in combating harmful cultural practices that curtail progress even as she expressed satisfaction that a lot of resources are being channelled towards ensuring equity and justice.

“We also, as women, must continue to raise our voices and protect ourselves against harmful practices such as FGM and early child marriage; these factors impede our pathway to reaching our gifted potential,” the First Lady said.

At the global level, First Lady Margaret Kenyatta said the election of the first woman Vice President in the United States of America should serve as an inspiration for women worldwide to aspire for leadership positions.

“Her Excellency Kamala Harris, has done women proud and broken the glass ceiling by going into history books as the 49th Vice President and the first female occupant of the office in the United States,” she said.

During the occasion, the First Lady conferred Annual Trailblazer Awards to several women and institutions in recognition of their outstanding achievements and contribution to advancing the gender equality and women empowerment agenda. She also conferred certificates to graduands of the first cohort of the Women in Political Leadership Training Programme that she launched last year.

Public Service and Gender CS Prof Margaret Kobia said the theme of this year’s IWD illustrates the urgency of putting women empowerment at the core of recovery and bouncing back better in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.

She noted that while the journey of women in leadership has been long and bumpy, their determination and commitment has yielded fruits.

“Therefore, we celebrate the gains made and also reflect on the social, economic, political and cultural context in which women and girls live and work,” the CS said.

In her address, Commonwealth Secretary General Patricia Scotland stressed that gender equality and women empowerment are essential components of human development and basic human rights.

Other speakers included Defence CS Dr Monica Juma, Maendeleo ya Wanawake Organization Chairperson Rahab Muiu, European Union Ambassador to Kenya Simon Mordue and UN Resident Co-ordinator Stephen Jackson are among others.

The event also witnessed the national launch of the continental digital platform dubbed ‘the 50 Million African Women Speak’. The project is geared towards empowering millions of women in Africa to start, grow and scale up businesses by providing a one-stop shop.

As published on: The Presidency | The Presidency (

President Uhuru Presides Over Landmark Declaration to End FGM in the Samburu Community.

President Uhuru Presides Over Landmark Declaration to End FGM in the Samburu Community.

H.E. President Uhuru Kenyatta yesterday presided over the landmark declaration by Samburu elders to end Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and Child Marriage in the community at Kisima in Samburu County.

The Head of State congratulated the elders for taking a bold step to protect their women and girls from harmful cultural practices and appealed to them to help him meet his goal to end FGM in Kenya by 2022.

“My commitment to eliminate FGM in Kenya by 2022 will be achieved if each one of us takes their own initiative. The journey we have started today will require each one of us to play their part,” he said.

His Excellency challenged communities practising FGM to discard the retrogressive cultural practice by finding alternative rites of passage.

“I know it is possible for our girls to go through alternative rites of passage without suffering,” President Kenyatta said.

While highlighting the benefits of educating girls, the President advised the Samburu community to give their boys and girls an equal opportunity to attend school.

Cabinet Secretary, Prof. Margaret Kobia welcomed the elders intervention to end FGM in the Samburu Community noting that it had been a rigorous 3 year process. She lauded the development partners for their support in championing for alternative rites of passage for girls.

Prof. Kobia noted that an equal world will only be achieved by ending FGM and other harmful practices.

Leaders present at the event were Ministry of Environment and Forestry Cabinet Secretary, Mr. Keriako Tobiko; Samburu County Governor, Hon. Moses Lenolkulal; Marsabit County Governor, Hon. Mohamud Ali; Chief Administrative Secretaries, Hon. Rachel Shebesh, Hon. Beatrice Elachi and Hon. Linah Jebii Kilimo; Ministry of ICT, Innovation and Youth Affairs, Ms. Nadia Abdalla; Ministry of Health Chief Administrative Secretary, Dr. Mercy Mwangangi; Ministry of Education, Ms. Mumina Bonaya; Principal Secretary, State Department for Gender, Prof. Collette Suda and representatives from the development partners among other dignitaries and Government officials.

NGAAF Partnership With Banks to Promote Women Economic Empowerment

NGAAF Partnership With Banks to Promote Women Economic Empowerment

Principal Secretary for Gender, Prof. Collette Suda on Friday, 26th February, 2021, presided over the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the National Government Affirmative Action Fund (NGAAF) Board with Equity Bank Ltd, Cooperative Bank Ltd and GROOTS Kenya Association. The event was held at the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD) Nairobi.

The MOU creates a partnership aimed at economically empowering women through capacity building. It will enhance for NGAAF funded women groups and SACCOs in business development and entrepreneurship skills. The programme will be piloted in the five counties of Nairobi, Machakos, Kiambu, Makueni and Kajiado.

In her remarks, Prof. Suda challenged women to use the skills they will gain to increase productivity and grow their businesses, while leveraging on the opportunities provided through the partnership.

“This partnership has put in place the structures, policies and frameworks that facilitate economic empowerment of women,” she added.

NGAAF Chairperson, Prof. Wanjiku Kabira on her part lauded the partnership and asked women to venture into larger business opportunities. She noted that women led enterprises are faced with financial challenges and assured that the partnership will provide wider opportunities for women groups to expand their businesses.

Among those present at the event were NGAAF CEO Titus Lotee, NGAAF Board of Directors, representatives from Equity Bank Ltd, Cooperative Bank Ltd, GROOTS Kenya Association, and NGAAF groups beneficiaries from Nairobi, Machakos, Kiambu, Makueni and Kajiado Counties.

Launch of the Nationwide Boda Boda Riders Training Programme

Launch of the Nationwide Boda Boda Riders Training Programme

Cabinet Secretary, Prof. Margaret Kobia earlier today presided over the launch of a nationwide Boda Boda Riders Training Programme at People’s Park, Machakos County.

The Ministries of Public Service and Gender, Interior and Coordination of National Government and that of ICT, Innovation and Youth Affairs are spearheading the training Programme to address the increasing road safety challenge in the Motorcycle Public Transport (Boda Boda) Sector in Kenya.

The programme is targeting close to 1.4 million riders countrywide with the National Youth Service (NYS) in collaboration with the National Transport and Safety Association (NTSA) set to conduct the training beginning in February 2021.

In her keynote address, Prof. Kobia called on the riders to hold each other accountable to restore road safety citing that the training programme is expected to restore order and discipline. “The training we have launched today is important since the accidents happening on our roads is attributed to human error,” she said.

Prof. Kobia noted that with over 1500 lives being lost annually through Boda Boda accidents the Government has had to do something to save lives by introducing the new programme that will ensure all the Riders undergo a refresher course to restore sanity in the Boda Boda sector.

Prof. Kobia noted that the program would specifically change the lives of the youth. “This program will economically empower the youth in order for them to make independent choices and be able to build their own country,” she said.

She urged the riders to develop a saving culture in order to diversify their investments in the future and develop themselves for a better livelihoods and that of their dependants.

Machakos County Governor, Dr. Alfred Mutua in his remarks welcomed the programme and committed to subsidizing the fee charged for the training to ensure all the riders undergo the refresher training in Machakos County. “For those already with licenses we shall pay the Ksh 750 for each and the ones without licenses will pay a subsidized fee,” he said.

The programme will be piloted in three (3) counties namely; Kiambu, Kajiado and Machakos and thereon to be rolled out in the remaining Counties in the country.

Motorcycle rider fatalities in Kenya have been increasing from as low as 34 in 2006 to 1,575 deaths in 2020 as per statistics obtained from the NTSA and the Traffic Police.

It is estimated that the sector employs about 1.7 million riders in our country who earn between Kshs.500/- and Kshs 750/- per day translating into over Ksh.15000 in a month.

Also present at the event was the National Youth Service Director General, Ms. Matilda Sakwa, Machakos County Commissioner, Mr. Fredrick Ndunga among other National and County Government officials.

By Nelly Kosgey

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