Columnists

Gender equality is key to running strong businesses

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Summary

  • According to the supreme law of our land, women and men have the right to equal treatment, including that of equal opportunities in political, economic, cultural and social spheres.
  • It places emphasis on principles such as equality, equity, inclusiveness and non-discrimination.
  • It is also worth noting that under the Constitution, there has been a progressive record of women involvement in leadership as well as in decision making.

Like in many countries, the debate on gender equality in Kenya has continued to dominate both the social-economic and political platforms.

As a country, Kenya has made great strides in efforts to attain gender equality. But the reality is that much more needs to be done to empower women, and support gender equality policies in uniting our businesses and societies.

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) defines gender equity as the process of being fair to women and men. To ensure fairness, strategies and measures must often be available to compensate for historical and social disadvantages that prevent women and men from operating on a level playing field.

This eventually leads to progressive societies. No country can confidently claim to have completely addressed the issue of gender equality. This is a universal issue which requires progressive efforts to achieve.

In the Kenyan context, the Constitution is categorical that every person is equal before the law, with the right to equal protection and equal benefit of the law.

According to the supreme law of our land, women and men have the right to equal treatment, including that of equal opportunities in political, economic, cultural and social spheres. It places emphasis on principles such as equality, equity, inclusiveness and non-discrimination.It is also worth noting that under the Constitution, there has been a progressive record of women involvement in leadership as well as in decision making.

In that regard, the Economic Survey 2020 shows that chief administrative secretaries comprised 33.3 percent of women in appointive decision-making positions in the public service in 2019.

This move has augmented the goal of the national policy on gender and development on the achievement of gender equality and women empowerment for national development.

Sadly, in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, the milestones made to empower women and young girls have once again been endangered by the fault lines of inequality, a matter that hampers our economic and social-political development.

An analysis commissioned by UN Women and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) indicates that by 2021, around 435 million women and girls globally, will be living on less than $1.90 a day, including 47 million pushed into poverty as a result of Covid-19. So far, a majority of women have continued to lose jobs, a matter that requires urgent attention if we are to see economies thriving.

Looking back at the steps we have made, the milestones attained in women empowerment demonstrate how essential gender equality is in driving progressive businesses. It is increasingly becoming clear that supporting gender equality is as important as supporting investments whose returns are lucrative beyond imagination.

With the underrepresentation of women remaining high in our corporate institutions, there is a need for joint support by all genders in attaining this goal.

Not so long, during the United Global Impact Forum on uniting businesses for a better world, one fundamental issue that was echoed by speakers across the globe was: gender mainstreaming is a core pillar in running progressive businesses. This entails introducing and implementing programmes on gender equity, gender equality and women empowerment.

Also worth mentioning are efforts by the United States Agency for International Development (USAid) under the Women’s Global Development and Prosperity Initiative (W-GDP).

The organisation has set in motion the Engendering Utilities Programme which has contributed to improvement in gender equality within various companies, KenGen included.

Having joined the programme in February 2020, we have seen results in the company’s technical division where we have been able to assimilate best practice by adopting demand-driven coaching while incorporating a gender equity executive leadership programme.

Currently, the organisation is using the programme to build the capacity of the company’s leaders to implement gender interventions.

As an institution which recognises the importance of women’s economic empowerment, KenGen is keen on creating an environment in which female employees can thrive.

One of the ways in which we are doing this is through the Pink Energy Initiative, which has played an important role in encouraging and facilitating women to achieve their potential.

The challenge to organisations is to establish a more gender-balanced workplace by operationalising tailor-made gender equity interventions.

Such interventions will eventually contribute to an environment in which gender equity is an important value and women can productively contribute to the achievement of organisational goals.

Ms Miano is the managing director & CEO of KenGen