By Winnie Kabintie
Her Royal Highness (HRH) Countess of Wessex, has called for the support of all survivors of conflict-related sexual violence, both male and female, and urged the commonwealth nations to increase focus on ending gender inequality and discrimination.
“As a passionate advocate of the Commonwealth, I believe that this great family of nations has a vital role to play in leading the world on gender equality issues. Together we need to have an increased focus on ending gender inequality and discrimination, and an increased focus on building environments that enable women’s political participation and economic empowerment,” she said.
The Countess of Wessex (Sophie), who is a member of the British Royal Family, was speaking during the opening ceremony of the 12th Commonwealth Women Affair’s Meeting in Nairobi. She is the wife of Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex, the youngest son of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.
Women for Peace and Security
The Countess of Wessex also called for the inclusion of women in peace and security processes saying women provide some of the solutions and leadership in peacebuilding.
“To truly achieve sustainable peace and security, it is imperative that women’s voices are heard when peace is being negotiated. It is so encouraging to hear about the positive impact of initiatives such as the network of Women Mediators across the Commonwealth and FEMWISE, in helping to build the capacity and confidence of women mediators and to champion their role in building peace,” She said.
The 12thCommonwealth Women Affair’s Meeting is aimed at pushing gender equality goals in all 53 member countries.
Prof Margaret Kobia, Cabinet Secretary Ministry of Public Service, Youth and Gender will be chairing the meetings, which will among other key issues take stock of the status of gender equality in the Commonwealth in four priority areas; women in leadership, women’s economic empowerment, ending violence against women and girls, and gender and climate change and explore provisions to help increase women’s access to leadership, free quality education, boost family planning and health services and also tackle avenues for legal protection from violence.
The discussions will also address sexual and reproductive health rights and anti-discriminatory laws in the economic sector.
Kenya Making Progress In Advancing Gender Equality
Prof Margaret Kobia highlighted the gains made by Kenya to achieve gender equality in various sectors including health, economic and Education, saying that the four gender priorities of the Commonwealth are consisted with Kenya’s priorities on Gender Equality and Women Empowerment.
“Backed by a progressive constitution, Kenya has developed critical policies and legislation to promote, enforce and monitor equality and non-discrimination. We have also reviewed our National Policy on Gender and Development and the National Policy for the Eradication of Female Genital Mutilation both of which have been approved by Cabinet,” Prof Kobia said.
“With regard to economic empowerment of women, we continue to make significance in improving the economic status of women. This has been through the Government catalytic funds such as the Women’s Enterprise Fund, the Youth Enterprise Fund and the Uwezo (empowerment) Fund, National Government Affirmative Action Fund. Women have been able to access funds for starting or growing their business ventures without burdensome conditions. Enactment of procurement laws which provide that 30 percent of Government tenders to be allocated to women, the youth and persons with disability has transformed the lives of these special groups,” the CS added.
Professor Kobia asserted Kenya’s commitment to the full realization of the Commonwealth gender priorities, Sustainable development goals in particular Goal 5, the Beijing Platform for Action and the outcome documents of their review conferences.
Commonwealth Secretary-General, Patricia Scotland lauded Kenya for her commitments in commonwealth affairs and particularly in pushing for gender equality.
Kenya Set to Host 12th Commonwealth Women’s Affairs Ministers For Gender Equality Strategy