DESERVE A SEAT AT THE TABLE

Women’s rights are not a favour

History shows that women have done more for the betterment of humanity.

In Summary
  • It is important that girls see a person who looks like them, a person that they can relate to, as they contemplate and work towards their career aspirations. 
  • Presently, we have so many young women who through the inspiration of the aforementioned are doing a lot and being recognised globally.

When the Lion reigned, he called a general assembly of the beasts and drew up a code of laws under which all were to live in perfect equality and harmony: the wolf and the lamb, the tiger and the stag, the leopard and the kid, the dog and the hare, all should dwell side by side in unbroken peace and friendship.

The hare said, "Oh! how I have longed for this day when the weak take their place without fear by the side of the strong!"

Over the years, women in Kenya and around the world have been fighting for a seat at the table. We have witnessed tremendous progress on this over the last decade or so.

 

However there are men, especially those in positions of power, treating the rights of women as a favour. They behave as if women are a lower breed of humans who do not deserve a seat at the table.

History shows that women, even those not in leadership, have done more for the betterment of humanity.

The recent passing of women’s rights activist Kamla Sikand gives us an opportunity to reflect upon the strides Kenyan women advocates have made in recent years, as well as what we can still be done. 

 

It is important that girls see a person who looks like them, a person that they can relate to, as they contemplate and work towards their career aspirations. 

In Kenya, we have had many women trailblazers who have shown that given half a chance the girl child can work magic.

No era in our history has been as progressive for women as right now. While the major criticism that women are still not on equal footing with men may hold true, the fact that it is being discussed, unpacked and reflected upon is a step in the right direction.

Consider the late Wangari Maathai, who was not only an environmental activist but a Nobel peace prize winner as well. Her singular actions on the environment saved public recreation spaces such as Uhuru Park and Karura Forest.

We have had women such as Mama Phoebe Asiyo, who was among the few female parliamentarians in the 1980s and '90s. She dedicated her life to improving the political atmosphere in Kenya, helping people affected by HIV and fighting female genital mutilation.

 
 

We cannot forget Julia Ojiambo, who was the first Kenyan woman to be admitted to Harvard University. Ojiambo was also Kenya’s second elected woman MP when she became the Funyula lawmaker in 1974. He role in women leadership cannot be overstated.

We have Nyiva Mwendwa—the first Kenyan woman to be appointed Cabinet minister. She was elected Kitui West MP three times: in 1974, 1992 and 2002.

Presently, we have so many young women who through the inspiration of the aforementioned are doing a lot and being recognised globally.

A young lady by the name Wanjira Njiru addressed more than 60,000 people at the Global Citizen Festival just over a week ago.

Her project – Food for Education –which aims to ensure that no child in school goes hungry, has not only been recognised worldwide but has attracted funding, helping her expand the number of children being fed.

Environmental enthusiast Elizabeth Wathuti has been recognised by the United Nations for her efforts to encourage young people to plant trees and take care of the environment.

A few weeks ago, lawmaker Zuleikha Hassan arrived at Parliament with her baby in tow, because no one else was available at home to care for the child. After being taunted by male MPs, several female and a few male lawmakers did come to her defence before she was forced to leave the chamber.

The opinions of constituents and citizens around the country have been mixed, but the event caused an important reaction: it got Kenyans thinking about the extra burden that female professionals have as mothers with careers. 

No era in our history has been as progressive for women as right now. While the major criticism that women are still not on equal footing with men may hold true, the fact that it is being discussed, unpacked and reflected upon is a step in the right direction.