Gender equality is the fifth agenda of the seventeen United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and advocates for equal access to services and allocation to resources for women, men, boys, and girls in realising their full potential through shared possibilities to contribute or benefit from development programs, opportunities, and projects.
At present, there are deliberate government-sponsored initiatives to empowering women, youths, and disabled people under affirmative policy actions.
The now defunct Youth Fund, Women Fund, and Uwezo Fund are among strategies aimed at promoting gender equality and empowerment. Notably, also, there is the 30 percent Access to Government Procurement Opportunities (AGPO) for the youth, women, and disabled people on all government tenders.
Gender equality refers to the perpetuation of a male versus female perspective into the development process in each stage and level of governance, policy development, government programs, and support.
On the other hand, equity stands for fairness or level playing ground towards competing interests. Where there are competing parties, amongst them enjoy an undue advantage over the rest, hindering full optimisation of abilities of the less endowed in attaining desired goals and visions. These inbuilt capacities are thus enhanced through affirmative actions and assessed through access to opportunities and results in a balanced manner and a just reward for labour.
In so doing, systemic differences and imbalances arising from socially assigned gender roles among the vulnerable members of the society are lessened, hence positioning them better than before.
Affirmative policies target those exposed to sex-based discrimination either at the workplace, educational institutions, or to negative traditions etc.
Therefore, gender mainstreaming in social, economic, political and environmental pillars is subject to robust adoption to cultural beliefs and practices into evolving modern practices and further influenced by factors like geographical positioning, religion, ethnicity, education background etc.
Until now, several affirmative strategies in favour of women empowerment continue being advanced. Among them, is the welfare approach that mainly focused on the health and nutrition status of mothers and children with the belief of a trickle-down effect to lower levels in case of economic improvement.
Next was the anti-poverty strategy towards eliminating gender-based discriminations by revaluing women contribution to development besides facilitating equality to opportunities, enhance productivity, results, and reward for labour in satisfying basic human needs.
Thirdly, the efficiency approach under the structural adjustment program aimed at increasing human productivity through training and education. As of now, we are implementing the empowerment strategy to influence and incorporate gender issues into governance structures and other levels of influence by perpetuating gender-friendly policies.
Besides the transformative strategies, gender mainstreaming continue to face hostility and discourse as a result of confusion and lack of clarity on terms like equal opportunity, affirmative action, and gender mainstreaming besides constant policy shifts, the challenge to cultural practices, order, gender roles, values, and differences.
Also, the emergence of a new societal order and conduct, absence of a model practice cutting across cultures in conformity with the general public good fuels us versus them gender lens.
Bottom line let's redefine the stereotypes on competing interests to gender mainstreaming if only to realise a third gender requirement.
Kiragu Kariuki Nyeri County