Francis Musyoka, a ONE EA Champion in Kenya, is sharing why empowering girls in Kilifi County, Kenya is important and the steps local leaders can take to do so.
The issue of gender equality and women’s empowerment has been a top agenda for countries and leaders across the globe. Whilst gender inequality is widespread, organizations such as ONE are fighting to ensure that the world understands the importance of promoting the girl-child in the socio-economic world and take action.
Women and girls across the world must have equal opportunity and rights and live free from any form of discrimination and violence. This agenda as Goal 5 of the Sustainable Development Goals is integral to all dimensions of inclusive and sustainable development.
In Kilifi county, at the coastal region of Kenya, gender-based discrimination is apparent, although the county government is working tirelessly to ensure the alleviation of the issue. Teenage pregnancies affect one in every five girls within Kilifi, making it the worst affected county in the country. As a result, the high gender inequality gap and low empowerment of girls continues to impede the development.
The importance of empowering girls
Sustainable development is impossible without girls’ empowerment in any given country. Additionally, UN Women aptly highlighted that achieving gender equality and realizing their human rights, dignity, and capabilities is a central requirement of a just and sustainable world. Failure to maintain gender equality in any nation impedes the country’s development.
Gender equality and economic growth in Kilifi
Economics are a critical justification to why every country should work tirelessly towards women’s empowerment. As a key element in sustainable development, it is unthinkable if we do not involve the girl-child. However, in many countries, the female labor force still remains untapped. Despite the efforts made by the county government of Kilifi, the opportunities for the girl child and women’s participation still remain low.
The importance of women’s empowerment and good governance
There has been a strong assertion that equal achievement of the SDG pillars depends entirely on the deliberate and operational intervention of any given government. Any good governance automatically corroborates the achievement of social and economic development as well as environmental protection.
Consequently, it is important to have an inclusive and well-established government system. Ideally, the active involvement of women in the decision making processes shall assist us in fostering the overall quality of governance in regard to boosting accountability, transparency, protection of the rights of the marginalized, and fighting corruption within and outside Kilifi County.
Thanks to the Kilifi county Governor, Hon. Jefferson Kingi, the county government has witnessed inclusion in the governance with 50% of his cabinet being women. This is a positive step that should be replicated in all tiers of government. It is also in accordance with Article 81 (b) of the Kenyan Constitution requiring two-thirds gender representation on all public positions.
Girls and social development
As a component of sustainable development, social transformation is close to nothing without the involvement of women within our country at large. Even though our continent has witnessed some gains in regard to social development, the progress on gender equality is still slow.
Kilifi has also had many social development projects from different NGOs but there is a need to promote and continue the empowerment of the girl-child towards this element. Health is one very crucial sector which requires gender equality just as other sectors, like education. The County Government of Kilifi has now declared free delivery wards for all women within the county. The Kilifi North MP, Hon.Owen Baya, has also worked tirelessly to ensure that girls are taken care in the education sector across the county by calling for “no child to be left behind.” However, the county experiences low transition rates from primary to secondary and secondary to tertiary levels of education with teenage pregnancy impeding girls’ education. More action is needed to ensure that these efforts are complemented and girls’ rights upheld.
Sustainable development is a multidimensional concept. It embraces social and economic development, good governance, and human rights. I believe that the protection of girls’ rights in these areas possesses direct and equal relevance to the achievement of SDGs within Kilifi County and in Kenya at large.