A month ago, I had the opportunity to work with two amazing women in a call for submissions on Imagining Equality: a joint venture between the Global Fund for Women and International Museum of Women. Janet Malzahn, the founder of Eves Daughters Production and Sarah Thomas a global leadership consultant supported me together with other Kenyan women to share our experiences and vision about Gender Equality. Nonetheless, this was not my first time to get involved in a project on gender. As a student of International Studies I had the opportunity to study Gender in International Relations. I am also passionate about empowering young people to make informed decisions thus gender equality is a dream I desire for all. Partaking in the production of the video had me thinking explicitly about equality.
Equality is not a number. It is about fairness and justice for all. It’s about equal distribution of resources. It means a world where everybody has access to equal opportunity irrespective of age, gender, race, status or tribe. Gender mainstreaming as defined by the UN is process of assessing the implications for women and men of any planned action, including legislation, polices or programmes, in all areas at all levels. It is the ultimate goal to achieving gender equality.
The success of any nation in pursuit of growth and development lies in bridging the gaps between the haves and have-nots. One way that states fulfill contractual agreement to their citizens is by developing public policies that address the plight of the populace. Public policy is hence defined as the course of action adopted and pursued by states. Kenya is among the few Africa countries hailed for being in the forefront of developing good policies; challenge however remains in the implementation of those policies. Most of these countries consequently become well known as good policy makers but poor implementers. There are many well-designed policies that are gathering dust in public offices due to lack of technical and financial capacity to turn them into realities.
It’s important to note that public policy has the capacity to exacerbate or eliminate discrimination and gender inequality. It’s only by making gender a central consideration in policymaking and implementation can we hope to achieve gender equality. The risk of ignoring a gender perspective will only continue to perpetuate the existing forms of oppression against women and limit both men’s and women’s autonomy in the broad efforts to achieving equality.
To ignore gender mainstreaming therefore is to the detriment of any country in pursuit of national development. Ignoring or including it in the later stages of a project is an afterthought has proved costly and a result of many failed development projects in Africa.
In our video, we talk about transformational shifts that will inspire a new generation to lead believing that a better world is within our reach, and act accordingly. We talk about the shift from ‘women to we’. To address the balance of power between men and women there is need to move from the competitive nature we have learned through life to working in partnership for a better society. In collaboration we can find lasting solutions to many societal concerns such as; unemployment, insecurity and gender based violence.
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