International Women’s Day (March 8) a global day that celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. This year, International Women’s Day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity.
Women in Kenya are often underrepresented in decision-making positions. They have less access to education, land, and employment, and those living in rural areas often spend long hours collecting water and firewood. These tasks interfere with school attendance and leave women with little time to learn, earn money or engage in other productive activities.
Unfortunately, in Kenya, gender parity is often an uphill battle. Around the world, an estimated 31 million girls of primary school age and 32 million girls of lower secondary school age were out of school in 2013, according to the United Nations. In sub-Saharan Africa, only two of 35 countries measured have gender parity, the lowest ratio in the world. More than one in four girls in Kenya is subjected to genital mutilation, which carries a risk of severe bleeding, problems urinating, infections, infertility and complications in childbirth.
“Around the world there is a tradition of oppressing women and treating them differently and not giving them the same opportunities, and husbands beating their wives, and children not being sent to school. Those are traditions. Treating women and girls as second-class citizens. Those are bad traditions. They need to change.” – Barack Obama
Thankfully, many of the younger generation in Kenya are jumping on board and supporting the move towards gender parity. Last year, U.S. President Obama earned vociferous applause from 4,500 Kenyans at a sports arena in Nairobi by throwing down the gauntlet over the rights of women and girls.
“Around the world there is a tradition of oppressing women and treating them differently and not giving them the same opportunities, and husbands beating their wives, and children not being sent to school. Those are traditions. Treating women and girls as second-class citizens. Those are bad traditions. They need to change.”
He went on to add that “There’s no excuse for sexual assault or domestic violence, there’s no reason that young girls should suffer genital mutilation, there’s no place in a civilised society for the early or forced marriage of children. These traditions may go back centuries; they have no place in the 21st century.”
Kenya Aid is committed to closing the gender gap in Shikunga. We offer health and education services tailored to the needs of women and we support all our learners at the Shikumu Twydale Memorial School to support and uphold the rights of women.
This year, show your support by donating to one of our programs for women and use #PledgeForParity to show your support for accelerating gender parity.
Did you know?
The World Economic Forum predicted in 2014 that it would take until 2095 to achieve global gender parity. Then one year later in 2015, they estimated that a slowdown in the already glacial pace of progress meant the gender gap wouldn’t close entirely until 2133.