Why creating opportunities for women is a win for development


Only 29 percent of women in Kenya are regarded as empowered, according to data released in 2020. FILE PHOTO | SHUTTERSTOCK

During a Women’s Empowerment Reception while visiting Kenya in February, the First Lady of the United States, Jill Biden, noted that women must fight to expand their space at the decision-making table in all spheres of life.

Kenya has made some progress toward gender parity by passing legislation against domestic abuse and sexual offences, creating affirmative action funds for women-owned enterprises, and boosting the participation of women in public and political office.

Yet, only 29 percent of women are regarded as empowered, according to data released in 2020 by UN Women and the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS).

The implementation of laws, funding, accountability systems, and the sluggish transformation of patriarchal and discriminatory gender norms, attitudes, and behaviours are all factors that slow down progress.

These hurdles not only affect women’s personal growth and development but also hinder gender parity and the realisation of a fair and just society.

Therefore, it is crucial to identify these challenges and define strategies to attain gender parity.

To promote gender parity, we must challenge gender stereotypes and promote diversity and inclusion.

Organisations and policymakers should implement policies and advance practices that promote equal opportunities for women and men, such as pay transparency, flexible working arrangements, and mentoring and coaching programmes.

Moreover, creating awareness and promoting education about gender parity and the negative impacts of gender bias can help challenge and change attitudes towards women.

Early childbearing, or pregnancy and delivery during adolescence, can derail girls’ otherwise healthy development into adulthood and have negative impacts on their education, livelihoods, and health.

This begs the question of how do we teach these girls? How do we create opportunities for them?

In Dr Biden’s words, “when women earn money, we invest it in our families. We become mentors and help others find success as well. We create jobs. When women have the ability to participate fully in society, we create more peaceful, stable places to live. And when women get the opportunities that we deserve, there’s no limit to what we can do.”

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