Kenya Monday joined the rest of the world in marking International Women’s Day held annually on March 8.
Calls for gender equality in face of the Covid-19 pandemic reverberated across the globe with top leadership warning that the crisis had exacerbated women’s vulnerabilities.
In Kenya, First Lady Margaret Kenyatta led Kenyans in observing the day by presiding over virtual celebrations.
Several activities have been lined up across the country in honour of women.
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Happening now: #IWD2021 celebrations @KSGKenya, presided over by the @FirstLadyKenya. Guests in attendance are: @commonwealthsec SG
@PScotlandCSG, @CSMargaretKobia, @CSDefence_Kenya, @EuMordue, GEWE development partners among other guests.#IWD2021#womeninleadership pic.twitter.com/dVXOhN3g0T
— Ministry of Public Service & Gender (@PSYGKenya) March 8, 2021
The theme of this year’s IWD is “Women in Leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world.
Public Service and Gender Cabinet Secretary Prof Margaret Kobia, European Union Ambassador to Kenya Simon Mordue and UN Resident Co-ordinator Stephen Jackson are among the dignitaries who will physically grace the celebrations at the Kenya School of Government in Lower Kabete, Nairobi.
Stephen Jackson in his address rooted for more women to be considered in leadership and decision making.
“When more women are in decision-making positions, more inclusive decisions are made, different voices are heard, and different solutions are created” he said.
Highlights of the celebrations include the graduation of Women leaders from the Political Leadership Programme and the presentation of the Annual Trailblazer Awards.
Organisations championing gender equality are concerned about the impact of the pandemic on women and girls.
According to data from the International Labour Organization, a United Nations agency, globally women have suffered more job losses related to the pandemic than men. About 5% of women in 2020 lost work, which could mean losing a job or experiencing reduced hours, compared with 3.9% of men.
“The pandemic has brought into sharp and painful focus that even before COVID-19 an estimated 34 million girls between the ages of 12 and 14 years were out of school, one in three women globally reported having experienced physical or sexual violence and women the world over worked longer hours for less or no pay” UNAIDS Executive Director’s said in her message on this year’s International Women’s Day.
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) says it is working with countries across the world to help address these vulnerabilities concerning women.
“Women must have the opportunity to play a full role in shaping the pivotal decisions being made right now as countries respond to and recover from the COVID-19 pandemic – choices that will affect the wellbeing of people and the planet for generations to come” (UNDP) said.
“To do this, we must break down the deep-seated historic, cultural, and socio-economic barriers that prevent women from taking their seat at the decision-making table to make sure that resources and power are more equitably distributed. Achim Steiner, Administrator” UNDP added.
History of International Women’s Day
The International Women’s Day can be traced back to February 28, 1909, when the Socialist Party of America designated this day in honour of the garment workers’ strike in New York.
However, the first official celebrations of International Women’s Day happened in 1911, when women from several European countries (Austria, Denmark, Germany, and Switzerland) participated in demonstrations
It celebrates the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women while highlighting the problems they face in day-to-day life as well as in the professional environment.
The day also marks as a call to action for accelerating gender parity.