International Women’s Day in the Caribbean

Please read this inspiring piece about International Women’s Day protests against Violence against Women & Girls across several Caribbean countries.  You can read the aarticle here and please do also check http://www.pambazuka.org for more stories of Liberation

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Happy International Women’s Day

Happy International Women’s Day everyone – this day was first marked in 1909 and is rooted in the desire for socialism and equality for all women.  March 8th marks the day that women marched in Petrograd, Russia, which sparked the 1917 revolution.

To commemorate the day, we present a series of articles and information; and the sad reality is that, despite progress in many areas of life, we are still faced with gender inequality on a global level and in all walks of life.  There is much work for all of us, both women and men, to eradicate all forms of sexism in our daily lives, within our institutions and systems, and in the broader society.

Firstly, to motivate everyone, some inspiring quotes from African women activists are here

For those in Nairobi, Kenya, there is an event today to celebrate International Women’s Day from 12 – 6 pm at Freedom Corner, Uhuru Park with Arts Performances, Exhibitions and Dialogues on on Inequalities and Barriers to Development.  FREE ENTRY!

This year’s theme is “BE BOLD FOR CHANGE”.  Today’s Daily Nation celebrates some bold Kenyan women HERE

Here are some articles, largely focused on sexual and gender-based violence being faced by so many girls and women and several, although not all, about Kenya.  Please click on the stories to read more:

The Real Reasons Women’s Don’t Report Sexual Harassment

Hope for Survivors of Political Violence

No Bed of Roses: The Kenyan Flower Pickers Fighting Sexual Harassment

Is Your Dress Really Your Choice?

For more about International Women’s Day and its’ history: please check the following:

https://www.internationalwomensday.com/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Women’s_Day

http://www.history.com/news/the-surprising-history-of-international-womens-day

 

“A feminist is anyone who recognizes the equality and full humanity of women and men.” Gloria Steinem

 

She Aims, She Kicks, She Scores: How football can help girls learn about life

At the conclusion of his emotive visit to our country last year, US President Barack Obama called on Kenyans to reverse discrimination against girls and women, and reject the specious argument that this behaviour is acceptable just because it is deeply embedded in our culture.

In response to Obama’s call and in line with the International Women’s Day theme of committing to actions that accelerates gender parity, not only to improve the daily lives of half our population, but also, as Obama reminded us, to enhance Kenya’s competitive strength in a globalised economy – for the benefit of both men and women.

As the director at Moving the Goalposts (MTG), an organisation that promotes football for girls, I was delighted at the president’s use of a sports metaphor to drive home his message about girls´ and women’s rights: “Imagine if you have a team and don’t let half of the team play. That’s stupid. That makes no sense.”

For me and my colleagues at MTG, however, sport is more than an apt metaphor; it is the practical means by which thousands of girls are today breaking down barriers to the realisation of their potential. Like all sports, football is a miniature version of the real world, which is demanding and competitive.

But unlike other sports, it is accessible to nearly everyone. So, what better way for large numbers of girls to learn about leadership, teamwork, and discipline in their daily lives? And what better entry point for introducing them to other skills and knowledge that can enrich their lives and the lives of whole families and communities?

As a lawyer and advocate for justice, I’m well aware that political and legal action are important tools for combating the violation of girls’ and women’s rights. But I’ve also found that better policies and laws mean little without individual initiative supported by effective grassroots action.

In fact, it was my frustration with the process of seeking legal redress for victims of sexual violence that ultimately led me to this conclusion. What I learned from my work with MTG is that we can make discrimination less likely in the first place by helping girls become less vulnerable as well as more resourceful and resilient – qualities that are necessary for success in sport and life.

The stories of two girls who have benefited from the work of MTG illustrate exactly what I mean. Esse Mbeyu Akida, one of the first girls to join us in 2002, now plays with the Kenyan women’s national football team (the Harambee Starlets) and is a student at Kenya Methodist University. MTG helped her develop not only the superb football skills that she displayed early on but the leadership and life skills that she relies on daily to meet the challenges of professional and educational success.

Fatuma Kahindi has surmounted obstacles of a different sort, becoming a skilled mechanic and proprietor of a motorcycle parts business.

Ironically, she achieved entrepreneurial success in a realm dominated by men with the help of a man, who offered her an apprenticeship through an MTG project whose name in Swahili, Nielimishe Nijisaidie means “Educate me, so I can help myself.” Initially skeptical that Fatuma could make it, her mentor changed his mind when he saw how determined she was to learn.

Most of the other approximately 6,000 girls who participate in MTG are following a similar trajectory that begins with active participation in football, leads to the development of leadership skills and knowledge about reproductive health and HIV/Aids prevention in connection with football, and culminates in new educational and economic opportunities.

I think it´s fair to say that MTG has offered proof of concept for the potential of sports as a catalyst for women´s advancement in East Africa. The next logical step is to position sports for development more strategically in the forefront of our national development agenda. Two things can be done now to make this happen:

First, we need to revise the mandate of the Registrar of Sports, Rose Wasike, so that she has jurisdiction over the registration of organisations engaged in sports for development, thus ensuring that they can be recognised under the law. Second, we need to help these organisations become more effective and link them with development agencies that can widen their impact.

As a lawyer, I’ve witnessed enough mistreatment of girls and women to leave anyone feeling disheartened. But as MTG’s leader, I´ve seen ample evidence that the best antidote for this negative culture of discrimination is the positive culture of sport.

 

Rachel Muthoga is an advocate of the High Court of Kenya and the executive director of Moving the Goalposts Kilifi, a sport and development project established in 2001 that works with girls and young women in Kilifi and Kwale counties

For more information about Moving the Goalposts, please see www.mtgk.org

Article first published in the East African, March 12th 2016

Men still call the shots despite Women’s progress

The odds against women in Kenya remain stacked high despite the enactment of laws and interventions aimed at ensuring gender equity.

Women and girls make up more than half the world’s population and their socio-economic contributions and leadership are central to achieving sustainable development. As the world marks International Women’s Day on March 8, the focus will be on building momentum for effective implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), designed to end poverty and hunger.

Of particular interest on this day are goal number five, on the social, economic, cultural and political achievement of women, and goal number four, on ensuring quality education and lifelong learning opportunities.

Nation Newsplex took a look at how far women in Kenya have come in achieving some of the key targets of the 2030 Agenda.

Below are facts on gender inequality in Kenya, sourced from the Kenya Demographic and Health Survey 2014, Ministry of Education, UN Women, International Women’s Media Foundation, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) and the World Economic Forum (WEF).

How many girls complete basic education?

About two in three girls who join Standard One do not complete Form Four, which is way below the key target of ensuring that all girls and boys complete free, equitable and quality primary and secondary education by 2030.

How well are women represented in decision making?

More than five years since the Constitution was promulgated, women’s participation in political processes and representation in decision making has remained muted. Not a single county governor is a woman, and only a quarter of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s cabinet consists of women.

In the National Assembly, 65 out of 350 seats (19 per cent) are held by women, despite affirmative action measures that guaranteed women 47 seats in the 2013 General Election. Kenya’s supreme law requires that no more than two-thirds of people elected or appointed to public bodies consist of one gender.

The Senate, with 18 women senators out of 68, also falls short of the two-thirds gender rule. Every female senator made it to the upper house through seats allocated solely to women in the Constitution and through nominations by political parties to represent special interests.

In the public service, a third of principal secretaries (15 out of 41) are women. The county assemblies met the two-thirds gender rule, although it was forced on them by electoral laws. In the case of the other legislative bodies and Cabinet, Bills were to be passed and policies developed to operationalise the rule.

Which socio-cultural practices hold back women?

Nearly half (45 per cent) of women age between 15 and 49 and 44 per cent of men aged between 15 and 49 have experienced physical violence since 15 years of age.

The main perpetrators of physical violence against women are husbands, whereas the main perpetrators against men are teachers and parents, according to the 2014 KDHS. Twice as many women as men have experienced sexual violence at least once in their lifetime.

Elimination of all forms of violence against all women and girls in the public and private spheres, including trafficking and sexual and other types of exploitation is one of the SDG targets.

One in five women aged between 15 and 49 have been circumcised. About 28 per cent of women aged between 20 and 24 were circumcised between the ages of five and nine, compared to 17 per cent of women aged 45-49. Another key target of SDGs is to eliminate all harmful practices, such as child marriage, early and forced marriage and female genital mutilation.

What is Kenya’s global rank on gender inequity?

According to the 2015 Global Gender Gap report, Kenya is ranked 48 out of 145 countries in the global gender index that considers the gap between men and women in economic participation (salaries, job type and seniority), political engagement, access to education and health (life expectancy, mortality etc.).

Kenya dropped 11 places on the overall rankings last year, mostly due to a decrease in both the wage equality for similar work and a reduction in women in the Cabinet.

What is the situation in the workplace?

In media companies, the ratio of men to women is 2:1. Women journalists also experience uneven access to the various occupational and managerial levels of the industry.

In the education sector, women make up 20 per cent of women school principals even if almost half of all primary school teachers are women.

How much do women contribute to the economy?

Women are responsible for 70 per cent of crop production, 50 per cent of animal husbandry and 60 per cent of marketing. Despite their huge contributions their efforts usually go unrewarded and unrecognised.

According to UN Women, agricultural activities undertaken by African women are typically characterised by a lack of resources and support such as credit, agricultural inputs, and the technologies necessary to increase production.

By Dorothy Otieno, Published in the Daily Nation, March 6th 2016