Thousands of women attend this year’s International Women’s Day celebrations in Kitui

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Thursday, March 31, 202

By BONIFACE MULU

The International Women’s Day is a day set aside globally to celebrate women everywhere for their contributions to the world. It is also a day to urge others – men and women alike to stand for the women’s rights.

The UN Women Kenya Country Representative, Mrs. Anna Mutavati made the remarks in a speech read for her by the UN Women Kenya Country Programme Analyst Jangmi Yun during this year’s International Women’s Day celebrations held at the Mutonguni District Officer’s Compound in Kitui West District, Kitui County on Tuesday, March 8, 2022.

The Kitui County Gender, Sports and Culture Minister Helena Kitheka was the chief guest where she was representing the Governor, Charity Kaluki Ngilu at the event.

The event was attended by thousands of women from Kitui County. It had been organized by the Kitui County Gender, Sports and Culture Ministry in partnership with the UN Women, African Medical Research Foundation (AMREF), Kenya Forestry Research Institute (KEFRI), Kenya Forest Service (KFS), Kenya Red Cross, National Police Service, National Government Affirmative Action Fund (NGAAF).

Kitui Women In Development, Eastern Community Development Programme, National Gender and Equality Commission, Anglican Development Services (ADS) Eastern, Groots Kenya, Women Enterprise Fund, Uwezo Fund, Centre for Health Solutions Kenya, UN Food and Agriculture Organisation and Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA). Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow was the theme of this year’s event.

The day is globally marked on March 8 every year. Some tree seedlings donated by the KEFRI and KFS were planted within the District Officer’s Office compound during the function. Mutavati said that they at the UN Women, they believe that the women’s rights are human rights.

“When the women’s economic rights and economic participation are hindered, the women become poor citizens. We are also aware that the women and girls suffer the most from environmental, economic and social shocks caused by climate change,” the UN Women official said.

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Despite their potential roles as leaders and change-makers for climate adaptation and mitigation, the women and girls often face systemic constraints to demonstrate their abilities and their contribution is often neglected in the climate action and sustainable development, she added.

“In this respect, the UN Women endeavors to promote the women’s economic empowerment with a focus on the green economics and climate change for sustainable development and greater gender equality,” Mutavati said.

The officer said Kenya has experienced the climate change in terms of rising temperatures, irregular rainfall, droughts and floods.

And she added that the rural women who manage over 40 per cent of the Kenya’s smallholder farms and provide some 80 per cent of the labour for crop production have been hard hit by the climate change as they depend heavily on the rain-fed agriculture for food production and consumption.

“Furthermore, the women suffer from the effects of the climate change more than men due to the gender inequalities that limit their access to assets such as land and capital,” she said.

“The women own only 1-5 per cent of the land titles in Kenya, livestock, labour, education, financial services and technology which has a profound effect on food security,” Mutavati said.

In Kenya, a majority of women (80 per cent) spends 1-5 hours per day looking for firewood, she added. And in the country’s arid and semi-arid lands (ASALs), the women spend 3-5 hours per day collecting water and more in drought periods, she said.

“Because the firewood and water are the women’s responsibilities, the decreased availability of natural resources due to the climate change seriously affect them,” the expert said. She also said that the indirect effects on women and girls include climate change-induced conflicts and disease outbreaks particularly malaria which cause an extra household care burden.

“In Kenya, while progress in the policy and legislative frameworks has been remarkable, the implementation and enforcement have faced a myriad of challenges resulting in slow progress in closing the gender gap and enhancing women’s empowerment in the social, economic and political spheres,” Mutavati said.

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For that reason, it gives us great pleasure today to be part of the commemoration of the International Women’s Day and to focus on the improvement of the women’s rights through this year’s theme “Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow” and call for climate action by and for women who are leading the charge on climate change adaptation, mitigation and response to build a more sustainable future for all, Mutavati further said.

She announced that the UN Women together with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, Groots Kenya and Village Enterprise and delivering as one with the county government is implementing a gender-responsive climate-smart agriculture (CSA) project in the ASAL counties of Kitui, Laikipia and West Pokot.

“This project funded by the Korea International Cooperation Agency will reach a total of 12,000 farmers. In the spirit of leaving no one behind, it is intentionally reaching out to the women, youth, persons with disability and vulnerable men,” Mutavati said.

We aim at enhancing the capacity of the selected ASAL counties on gender-responsive CSA and climate change adaptation (CCA) responses and strengthening the women’s coping potential with increased climate variability, the UN Women official said.

Mutavati said that for a sustainable system of gender-responsive CSA, the programme invests in capacity building of the county-level institutions to ensure the adoption of the gender-responsive CSA and CCA policies and practices in their next County Integrated Development Plans.

“Three county-specific gender-mainstreamed CSA guidelines which are currently being developed at the county level will help guide us in the best direction for the integration of the guidelines and following capacity building of 300 county partners.

The target farmers are currently participating in technical training on women’s leadership skills to participate in the development and implementation of the CSA and CCA policies and decision-making process, gender-responsive climate-resilient agricultural practices and investment and participation in value chains with enhanced capacity in financial literacy,” the expert added.

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“UN Women believes the programme that grows smallholder farmer agricultural production and productivity in a changing climate will foster sustainable systems through the adoption of CSA practices and enhancement of given value chains in the three counties.

Thank you very much for your attention and participation in this meaningful event to celebrate the International Women’s Day,” Mutavati said.

The Kitui County Women’s Representative, Dr. Irene Kasalu, who also addressed the occasion, said: “Let me say that today I am happy because it is the International Women’s Day.” “I thank the Kitui women for being so active in development matters.

So let us continue with that unity,” the women’s leader added. Kasalu announced that she will continue with her war against rapists, defilers and sodomites in the county.

“Let me tell you that the biggest task for the County Woman’s Representative is to protect the woman’s respect,” the politician said. Kasalu is the County Women’s Representatives Association National Secretary.

“All the school girls in Kitui Country from Standard Six to Form Four benefit from sanitary pads from me,” the Kitui County Women’s Representative said.

And on his part, the Kitui West District Commissioner Kipng’eno Siere, announced that the gender based violence (GBV) cases in the district are low. The DC strongly warned against disinheritance in the area. “We can’t accept that,” he warned. “That will never happen here when I am here as the DC. If there is any disinheritance within the district, report the case at my office immediately,” Siele warned.

“How will we have a sustainable tomorrow if we are not protecting it now?”, the administrator asked. He said that if we have the women leaders that tomorrow will be good.

The occasion was also addressed by the Kitui West Constituency Member of Parliament Edith Vethi Nyenze, KEFRI official Bernard Kimani Kigwa and Groots Kenya Kitui County Coordinator Jeniffer Mutinda among others.

In his speech, Kigwa educated the gathering on various tree species. He had represented the KEFRI Kitui Regional Research Centre Director, Dr. Albert M. Luvanda at the event.

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