Columnists

On gender equality, break the glass ceiling

governors

President Uhuru Kenyatta with Governors (from left) Ann Waiguru, Charity Ngilu and the late Joyce Laboso during the 6th session of the National and County Governments Co-ordinating summit at State House, Nairobi. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Summary

  • In this last year before elections, we should reflect on how we should address various barriers to leadership women face and how to elevate more.
  • Maendeleo Ya Wanawake Movement has awakened the national consciousness to create an enabling environment to give women more opportunities to improve their standing.
  • There is a need for improvement. A gender pay gap persists and a recent study showed that the proportion of women in senior management positions was dismal.

Kenya’s women have made significant strides in recent years in their efforts to lead. In this last year before elections, we should reflect on how we should address various barriers to leadership women face and how to elevate more.

Kenya just got its first female Chief Justice, Martha Koome, from a list that was dominated by males. We also have the first woman Auditor General — Nancy Gathungu. Kenyans, for the first time, elected three female governors in the 2017 election: the late Joyce Laboso in Bomet, Charity Ngilu of Kitui and Kirinyaga’s Anne Waiguru.

We also have 23.3 percent of parliamentarians as women, which has been an improvement every election. The 2010 Constitution created women representative seats in the National Assembly to boost their numbers.

Women have been appointed to Cabinet, parastatal and departmental heads, heads of private sector boards and professional associations among others.

Starting in 1952, when Maendeleo Ya Wanawake Movement was registered, their journey into leadership has witnessed a chequered career. It has awakened the national consciousness to create an enabling environment to give women more opportunities to improve their standing.

We have, for instance, entrenched gender issues in legislation, policies, budgets, plans and institutional framework, mainstreamed gender in public and private life, established affirmative action programmes, provided resources, and set gender quotas on women's empowerment.

But there is a need for improvement. A gender pay gap persists and a recent study showed that the proportion of women in senior management positions was dismal.

Gender equality is a fundamental human rights issue and also an economic empowerment issue. Let’s to achieve complete gender equality.