Mercy Mutana, Anne Mugo, Doreen Moracha, Grace Mujiza, Hazel Wafula, Moses Gichuho, Robert Mwangi, and Sheila Anyango are ONE Champions from Kenya.
There have been various strides made to improve gender equality, but there remains much more to be done. For instance, only three countries have achieved at least 50% of women composition in parliament, and only 60 countries have at least 30% women representation in parliament, according to International Parliamentary Union (IPU) statistics.
That’s why we ONE Champions from Kenya attended the annual Nalafem Summit celebrating women’s and girls’ rights in Africa. The conference was hosted in Nairobi, Kenya on 1-2 July, under the leadership of the former African Union youth envoy, Aya Chebbi. It brought together amazing women from country leaders to grassroots gender equality advocates across Africa.
Keep reading to find out what we learned!
We discussed various topics including ending violence against women, digital rights and safety, women’s political participation and rights, gender justice, and much more. Distinguished speakers such as the chief justice of Kenya, Martha Koome, shared lessons from their advocacy journeys. Two quotes during the summit stood out for us, with the first from Oby Ezekwesili, the founder of Fix Politics Nigeria, who said “not one cock must crow at dawn.” This means that we need more women at the table. It’s not enough for one woman to shatter any glass ceiling, but that those ceilings should cease to exist and become a thing of the past.
Another quote that stood out was from a judge at the supreme court of Kenya, Lady Justice Njoki Ndung’u. She stated, “women and men are equal but different.” This is to affirm that the push for gender equality is not a gender war but rather a societal necessity because issues affect both genders differently. We believe that gender equality and affirmative action, especially in leadership, ensures just representation of both genders towards fair policy making processes.
There’s still a long way to go
During the summit, the main issues highlighted as challenges towards implementing gender equality commitments were:
- A lack of political will.
- Inadequate resources.
- Lack of clear monitoring mechanisms.
- Lack of concrete financial commitments.
- Lack of institutionalizing commitments.
In addition to global commitments, this year marks the 20th anniversary of the Maputo Protocol on Women’s Rights. This document was signed by our African leaders to guarantee the rights of women and girls such as protection from harmful traditional practices, like child marriage and female genital mutilation (FGM), and participation in political processes. Out of the 55 African countries, only 10 are left to ratify it.
Opportunities for gender equality progress
There’s still a long way to go in the fight for gender equality. But here are some ways that we can come together to boost gender equality in Africa:
- Urging the remaining 10 African countries to ratify the Maputo protocol and call for its implementation.
- Organizations and leaders collaborating in joint-advocacy and information sharing in order to achieve key goals and policy changes.
- Giving grassroots advocates with direct contact with communities adequate resources.
- Ensuring efficient data collection and analysis on gender issues, like providing adequate care to survivors of sexual and gender based violence.
- Creating more public awareness of the significance of gender equality.
- Passing on the baton through intergenerational mentorship for the continued progression of the gender equality push.
- Building the capacity of women in the economic and political spaces.
While the road seems long, these and more initiatives can inch us closer to ensuring that women and girls everywhere are treated equally and justly.
Photo Courtesy of Mark Asibiko.