GENDER EQUITY

Fight for equality founded on Ubuntu

Women should understand we are fighting patriarchy, hence, solidarity is important.

In Summary

• It's good when a society treats women equally with men. Women should drive equal power.

• With solidarity, we can achieve what we want.

Women appearing for the public hearing on the two-thirds gender rule chaired by the Legal Affairs committee of the National Assembly disagree with a speaker at the KICC.
IT'S ONLY FAIR: Women appearing for the public hearing on the two-thirds gender rule chaired by the Legal Affairs committee of the National Assembly disagree with a speaker at the KICC.
Image: FILE

I have worked in this field for close to 20 years championing the rights of African women and girls. I fight because l have also faced discrimination because of my gender.

As the debate on the implementation of the two-thirds gender principle rages on, Kenyans must make peace with the fact that it is not about women fighting men. The principle is a fight against a patriarchal system—one that allows male privilege and dominance over women. Women should be able to drive power on equal footing with men.

Femnet is a 600-plus membership organisation in 47 African countries that believes in the ethos of ubuntu.

Additionally, we draw from the African Feminist Charter that seeks to do away with oppressive systems, structures and institutions that oppress women. For Femnet, being feminist is a political statement. We are unapologetic using feminist analysis. We analyse power, privilege and how patriarchy affects women. No ifs, no buts, no however. It's a political statement.’

Unfortunately, there are a lot of negative stereotypes about feminists and many shun the tag. Ironically, many women are feminists, only they don’t know it. They fight for gender equality and women’s rights, and yet never carry the title feminist.

The pan-African story does not feature women. Her-story has been pushed by His-story. We talk about pan-African men but never remember that before the OAU was formed, the Pan-African Women's Organization had been created.

I believe that fighting hard for the space of women and girls at the decision table will help keep their story alive. The pan-African story does not feature women. Her-story has been pushed by His-story. We talk about pan-African men but never remember that before the OAU was formed, the Pan-African Women's Organization had been created.

Our vision is to dismantle patriarchy. We are fighting one war and the battles are so many. Women should understand we are fighting patriarchy. Solidarity is important. We need to work towards an egalitarian society. It's good when a society treats women equally with men. Women should drive equal power. Solidarity is to say we are stronger together.

Femnet, in partnership with Oxfam, is working with 14 women's networks from seven African countries. Here in Kenya we are with Amwik and Young Women Leadership Institute. The countries are DRC, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mali, Mauritius, Rwanda and Tunisia.

In each of these countries, we are working with two networks that deal with women. This four-year EU partnership agreement will include working with civil societies to strengthen their capacities. We want to strengthen women to drive their agenda.

One of the key components of this partnership is holding governments accountable on their commitments on gender equality. This can be achieved by policymakers.

This is a great opportunity and a good investment. These are the partnerships we have been looking for. We can only drive the gender agenda if we work collectively. We need to be strong enough to beat this system.

I am hoping that we will have more models and partners like the EU to support women’s rights strategic plans that are within their mandate. Our partnership with Oxfam is based on feminist principles that include using a feminist framework in the monitoring and evaluation of our work, and in procurement and administration. We also do the same and consult with them on matters development if need be. It's a respectful partnership.

I believe with solidarity, we can achieve what we want. In the future, we hope to get more investments from more partners.

It is hoped that the networks selected to work with us will be strong, raise their institutional capacity and attract resources to drive their work nationally and internationally.

Women's rights organisations and women’s movement need to be resourced to drive their gender agenda.

Executive director, Femnet