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Issue Number 41 • October 2013

More women set to benefit from empowerment kitty

…By Carolyne Oyugi

M

ore money will be available to national civil society groups and governments working to advance women’s economic and political empowerment. The money will be made available through the United Nations Women Fund for Gender Equality which has set a goal of raising $20 million in the next financial year in order to reach more women in the world. This means that there will be an increase in national partners’ capacity in results-based management and program implementation. Speaking during a public event in Nairobi that was set to interact with the regional grantees, Elisa Fernandez, UN Women Fund for Gender Equality chief expressed concerns over the slow pace of women’s involvement in important decision making forums.

Changes “Many things have changed over the years but women’s problems are still the same. We are still missing where it matters especially in developing countries,” Fernandez said. She added: “Women dominate the list of the poorest people in the world and financial empowerment is one way of solving most of their problems.” Aligned to UN Women’s strategic plan, the fund has provided multi-year grants ranging from $100,000 to $3million directly to women’s organisations and governmental agencies to support their work as an essential part of poverty reduction and sustainable development. It also serves as a mechanism to contribute to the evidence base on innovative and high impact strategies for gender equality.

Addressing the grantees, Tacko Ndiaye from UN Women Regional Office for Eastern and Southern Africa urged women to strategically position themselves so as to grab opportunities that present themselves. “It is clear that our male counterparts are not just sitting and allowing us to occupy the positions as they watch. We, therefore, have to present ourselves for the competition. We also have to be knowledgeable and relevant in order to bring a difference once we get those positions,” reiterated Ndiaye. She noted that there are signs of good things coming considering the increased number of women who are getting elected to parliament and other government offices. “Kenya has increased its number of women parliamentarians and now everyone is waiting to see the difference it will make in Kenyan politics and development,” Ndiaye said adding that “it should not be just about quantity but quality”. She emphasized that it is important to have a peaceful environment where people live freely and women empowerment is given a chance. “Until women are economically empowered, they lack the capacity to stand on their own,” said Judy Thongori, a family lawyer and former Executive Director FIDA Kenya. Thongori, who gave the key note speech, noted that the society has allowed subjectivity in matters that affect women. “Despite the presence of laws that

support gender equality we are still dealing with an area where it is difficult to legislate,” Thongori pointed out. This she said is due to constant need to seek for the courts to interpret things because there are many grey areas. A good example, she noted, is in the land inheritance issue.

Challenges

“As much as the Constitution allows women to inherit land, there are other laws that allow someone to share their wealth as they so please. This, therefore, makes it hard to force someone to give the “Despite the presence daughter a piece of land as of laws that support he gives the sons,” Thongori observed. gender equality we are She noted that the still dealing with an courts are also not accessiarea where it is difficult ble to most women because it involves a lot of money to legislate.” which they already lack.  Judy Thongori “There surely must

A market woman displays smoked fish at a market currently patrolled by the UN Operation in San Pedro, Côte d’Ivoire. Picture: Courtesy UN women. exist another level that we can seek justice since the local channels have failed,” she pleaded. Thongori said it is important to find out where the genesis of gender discrimination started. “The family is the basis of the society according to the Constitution but it is also the source of social disorder,” she said. According to Thongori, values are taught at home before they come out to the society “and children are very observant so we must teach them while they are still young”. She also said that there is need to tackle cultural practices that promote gender discrimination. “You cannot free women until you free the society. Her sentiments were echoed by Cecil Mbarire, chairperson Kenya Women Parliamentarian (KEWOPA) who promised that the increased number of

women in the Kenyan parliament will result in many improvements both politically and in development. “We will make sure that the quantity of women in parliament equates to quality,” Mbarire said. The Fund for Gender Equality was created in 2009 in response to a crisis of implementation of gender equality laws and policies at local and national levels. It was specifically mandated to meet a growing demand by national machineries and women’s non-governmental organisations who were ready to assume a role as drivers of gender equality, but lacked the necessary resources and strategies to fast track commitments to gender equality, in line with national development strategies and aid effectiveness principles. Grantees from Africa had a chance to showcase their projects at the event.

Lack of collateral undermines implementation of procurement quotas Continued from page 1

procurement opportunities for women, youth and people living with disabilities in this country. The Government should not relegate us to only flowers, bush clearing and sweeping,” Mbarire reiterated. She added: “I believe we can do beyond bush clearing, I believe we can do roads, I believe we can construct buildings on behalf of this country. You must not limit our potential. If you allow us to do beyond the earmarked opportunities, who said that we cannot do a Thika Superhighway one day.” Mbarire noted that all members of KEWOPA will be actively involved in championing the procurement and Uwezo Fund initiatives. “We are going to open information kiosks in all our Constituencies and are hoping men can follow suit so that women, youth and people with disabilities can access the information at that level,” she affirmed. KEWOPA will also spearhead initiatives that seek to build the capacity of youth, women and persons with disabilities to ensure that they effectively participate in the 30 percent of Government tenders. “Many of the targeted groups do not know what the procurement process is about. There is need to engage them in terms of capacity building so that we can have more women access

the 30 percent provision,” she explains. KEWOPA will take advantage of digital collection of data to ensure that all government ministries and procurement entities follow the directive. “We expect that at the end of every financial year, we shall sit as KEWOPA, look at who has done what. We will name and shame those that fail to meet the 30 per cent preferential provision so that they may know disadvantaged groups have a right to participate in procurement,” said Mbarire. The President who presided over the launch also said he will closely monitor the allocation of the 30 per cent Government procurement to see exactly how many women, youth and persons with disability benefit. He affirmed his administration’s commitment to empowering women, youth and persons with disability to drive the country’s transformation agenda, saying doing so is empowering the whole society as they represent over 70 per cent of the country’s population.

“For far too long we have chara-cterised our women as people who are dependent. I want them to be people who we can depend on. Our youth were viewed as people who lacked vision and direction, I want to make them the engine that drives Kenya,” said Kenyatta.

Growth The President stressed that giving youth, women and persons with disability the opportunity to explore their potentials would accelerate the realization of the country’s development goals. He noted that if the 30 per cent procurement allocation to the youth, women and persons with disability was replicated in counties and in the private sector, poverty would significantly reduce in the country. He said young people should not be viewed with scepticism because they lack experience but given the opportunity to supply both minor and major goods and services to the Government. “We need to give the youth the op-

The ministry has deployed women and youth officers to all ministries, within the Central Policy and Planning Units to advise and monitor the implementation of the directive in their respective stations."  Anne Waiguru

portunity to exercise their abilities so that they can get the experience to fully participate in national development,” Kenyatta said. The President advised those who will benefit from the 30 per cent Government procurement initiative to promote local industry by buying goods locally. That way, he reiterated, the country would reap maximum benefit from the initiative. Waiguru noted that the Ministry has organised a series of forums to sensitise and train this category of entrepreneurs not only on the 30 per cent access to government procurement opportunities and tendering procedures but also on basic entrepreneurial skills and competencies required to grow enterprises. “We have lined up various training programmes throughout the country that are expected to kick off immediately. The trainings will equip youth, women and persons with disability with the requisite knowledge, skills, attitudes and competencies to spur their creativity and innovativeness for success,” she explained. Waiguru noted that the Ministry had organised an expo to provide the targeted groups with information to enable them take full advantage of such opportunities when they are created. She said that the expo serves to address this challenge and to demystify public procurement. “Through the expo, we intend to lay bare information

on opportunities that are available for doing business with government. It provides multiple solutions, by closing the loop with regard to business opportunities within government, the regulatory and institutional requirements required to take advantage of the same as well as opportunities for facilitation within the private sector. She said that the ministry has deployed women and youth officers to all ministries, within the Central Policy and Planning Units to advise and monitor the implementation of the directive in their respective stations. The move would also ensure that gender and youth issues are mainstreamed within all policies and programmes within the respective sector. The 30 per cent of public procurement accounts for approximately KSh200 billion worth of contracts. This translates to over KSh2 billion for general supplies and services; KSh10 billion for purchase of furniture and other general equipment; and another KSh2 billion for communication services amongst others. According to the Public Procurement and Disposal Reference and Reservations Amendment Regulations 2013, a procuring entity shall allocate at least 30 per cent of its procurement budget for the purposes of procuring goods, works and services from micro and small enterprises owned by youth, women and persons with disability.

Kenyan Woman Issue 41  

October 2013 Issue | The Kenyan Woman newspaper is a monthly publication of African Woman & Child Feature Service.

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