• Bloc CEO Abala Wanga said the hub will champion women's and girls’ health, safety, economic well-being and family life in the 14 member counties.
• It will ensure access to reproductive healthcare, increase funding for reproductive health, child care and improve women's economic capacity.
The Lake Region Economic Bloc has opened a wWomen’s Hub to fight sexism, advance equality and promote opportunities for women and girls.
The male chauvinist mindset and patriarchal culture must change, officials said. Rape, defilement and violence against women must end, they said.
Bloc CEO Abala Wanga said on Saturday the hub will champion women's and girls’ health, safety, economic well-being and healthy family life in the 14 member counties.
LREB comprises Kisumu, Homa Bay, Siaya, Kakamega, Kisii, Nyamira, Migori, Vihiga, Bungoma, Nandi, Busia, Kericho, Trans Nzoia and Bomet counties.
Wanga said the hub will address socio-economic inequality, gender-based harassment and abuse.
It will ensure access to reproductive healthcare, increase funding for reproductive health services, child care and support women's economic activities.
“This event is one of many opportunities to bring together community stakeholders committed to coaching, inspiring and healing girls from every tangent of the bloc,” Wanga said.
He spoke ahead of the International Day of the Girl to be observed in Kisumu. Governors' wives will attend the event on Sunday.
The CEO said marginalised women and girls experience "overwhelming levels" of gender-based violence, chronic health problems and discrimination.
Wanga said evidence shows women invest 90 per cent of their income into their families and communities as opposed to men who invest only 40 per cent.
“Our decision to create a Women’s Hub is inspired by this ripple effect whereby investing in a single woman can lead to prosperity for future generations,” he said.
Wanga said they want to create an avenue for girls to become "the brilliant and responsive change agents that society needs".
The bloc, he said, is committed to changing a culture that enables sexism and violence against girls and women. “We must bring about our vision of a world where women's and men's lives and potential are equally valued,” he added.
Women’s Hub chairwoman Farida Salim said they will address problems faced by women within the bloc.
Linda Kesho member Hellen Apiyo said the rights of women and girls should be championed fully.
She raised concerns about increasing defilment and many offenders walking free.
"We want equality for all people, no matter their tribe, gender or colour. Women and girls must be protected,” Caroline Ogot of Linda Kesho said.
Plan International project officer Rosemary Migiro said the platform will amplify girls' issues from beyond the celebration of 'days' days to strategic thinking and developing policies to protect and empower girls and women.
“We will engage decision-makers to create opportunities so girls and young women have the power to make crucial decisions affecting their lives,” Migiro said.
Champions of Peace programme director Elly Opondo said rape, defilement, and physical violence against women must end.
“We must face these issues head-on if we truly want to address the plight of women and girls," he said.
(Edited by V. Graham)