SPEECH BY HIS EXCELLENCY HON. UHURU KENYATTA, C.G.H., PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF KENYA AND COMMANDER IN CHIEF OF THE DEFENCE FORCES DURING THE OFFICIAL LAUNCH OF THE GENDER BASED VIOLENCE (GBV) JOINT GOK/UN PROGRAM AND THE AFRICAN UNION (AU) END CHILD MARRIAGE CAMPAIGN, COMESA GROUNDS, KICC, 8TH MARCH 2017.

On October 19, 2018 In Statements and Speeches

Excellency Antonio Gueterres, United Nations Secretary General, Eminent Women, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, Today,Kenya joins the rest of the World to commemorate the International Women's Day 2017. A special day World over, to not only celebrate the gains made towards women empowerment, but to take stock of challenges and make renewed commitments towards Gender Equality. We are observing this day at an opportune time.  I say so because around the World,countries have galvanised efforts towards the attainment of The Sustainable Development Goals, which have placed women’s agenda as a key development imperative.   Ladies and Gentlemen, At the continental level,this decade is the Africa Union decade for women.  Indeed, the AU Agenda 2063 clearly articulates the Continent’s commitment to achieve gender equality.  Both agendas epitomise the importance of gender empowerment and equality, at both the regional and global level. Let me underscore that gender empowerment is important to any society that considers itself modern and progressive. But equally and more fundamental is the need to ensure the protection of the rights of women and girls. It is in this regard that International Women’s Day offers us a moment to reflect and double our resolve,to pursue the unstoppable march of achieving our collective aspiration of gender parity. This year’s UN-Global Theme,“Be Bold for Change”, which we have domesticated and titled“Celebrating the Bold Women of Kenya”, provides an opportunity for us to appreciate the remarkable contribution of women to our Society.   Ladies and Gentlemen, This Administration recognizes the unique strength of women in Kenya,most of who play multiple and varied roles in their daily lives. From championing the care economy through raising their families, to contributing to the economic development of our country, women have been a key driver in shaping our political landscape. In this regard,Kenya has indeed made remarkable progress in implementing global,regional as well as national commitments on Gender Equality and the empowerment of women. Our story is clearly elaborated in major continental frameworks:the Maputo Protocol which is the Bill of Rights for women in Africa,the AU Solemn Declaration on Gender Equality in Africa and more recently Africa’s Agenda 2063, a development framework that aims to achieve a continent that is integrated, peaceful, prosperous, people-centered and representing a dynamic force in the global agenda.   Ladies and Gentlemen, We take pride in the many achievements we have made by investing in priority interventions that are of great benefit to the women of this country. The compulsory and Free Primary Education programme has boosted education for girls and boys,and has been cited as a best practice to emulate by other countries in Africa. Kenya’s progress in women’s health is evidenced by the free maternity health services and related initiatives aimed at supporting women’s reproductive health. This Administration makes an annual direct investment of US$60 million to address the financial barriers that women face in accessing health care. Overall,we have made great strides towards women empowerment, some of which are a first on the continent. For example, in the area of peace and security, we have the first female Brigadier in Africa.Our affirmative initiatives have culminated in more women accessing credit as well as more opportunities in government procurement and employment.   Ladies and Gentlemen, We know the value empowering women would add to our society.  In this context, this Administration commits to continue to address structural barriers that hinder women’s advancement,recognize and act on women’s unpaid care burden, and invest in women’s reproductive health services.   Additionally,we will continue to ensure women get equal chances in decision making and strive to end gender based violence.   Ladies and Gentlemen, On gender-based violence, Kenya has adapted sound and robust legal and policy framework that protectsthe rights of women and girls, and provides for equality and non-discrimination as anchored in the Constitution.  Kenya is among the few countries in Africa with legislation that stipulates the minimum age of marriage. These measures have contributed to the country’s progress in tackling harmful cultural practices.  Indeed,efforts to end Female Genital Mutilation have led to a decline from 27%in 2009 to 21% in 2015. To enhance these interventions,and as a further demonstration of this Administration’s commitment to end harmful socio-cultural practices, we will shortly launch two strategic initiatives. These are the AU Campaign on Ending Child Marriage in Africaand Joint GoK/UN Programme on Gender Based Violence. These initiatives will ensure Kenya does not witness again the sad incidents and harrowing experiences our women and girls have had to endure. We recall with heavy hearts victims of violence like Mwende, with both of her hands chopped off. These victims are our sisters, our mothers and our daughters. It will take all of us to get the work done. To make public spaces safer, to be each other’s keepers,to speak up,to step up when we witness any form of sexual, physical or verbal abuse.   Ladies and Gentlemen, Let me reiterate that this Administration is determined to continue prioritizing investments in women and girls for a number of reasons. First, the empowerment of women and children is of intrinsic value and is a basic human right. Second,women are great contributors to our social and economic progress. Third, the wealth of a nation is positively and closely associated with women empowerment. It is not only the right thing to do it is a smart thing to do. And Fourth,the empowerment of women has intergenerational benefits, including equity, social stability and human security and peace.   Ladies and Gentlemen, Let me reaffirm that this Administration will show zero-tolerance to any violence or discrimination against our women and girls. In this regard, I urge all concerned agencies to take full advantage of the legislative and policy frameworks,put in place by the Government to empower and protect of women. We are all aware that there is an enormous amount of work to be done to achieve the global women empowerment vision. We also know that we will only achieve this vision by working together. Let us all therefore, join hands to make Kenya a safer and freer country not only for our women and girls, but for all citizens.   Ladies and Gentlemen, As we celebrate the 2017 International Women’s Day, let us rededicate ourselves to do what is good for all humankind. Let us unite in this noble struggle to build a better World, characterised by a just and equitable society for the present and future generations of our mothers, sisters and daughters. Thank You.

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