- UN Women Country Director Anna Mutavati discusses the need for a gender-responsive economic recovery, progress on gender equality and the many gaps that still need to be addressed.
Why Kenya’s stimulus packages need to be gender-sensitive
Kenya is preparing to mark International Women’s Day on March 8 amid additional challenges to the campaign for gender equality posed by the Covid-19 pandemic.
UN Women Country Director Anna Mutavati discusses the need for a gender-responsive economic recovery, progress on gender equality and the many gaps that still need to be addressed.
What should change after Covid-19 for women?
In Kenya, the pandemic affects men and women differently. While Covid-19 is a health crisis and the primary goal is to save lives, the socio-economic impacts demand a gender responsive and responsive recovery.
The economic effects of the pandemic will also affect women disproportionately. Women earn less, save less and have less secure jobs.
This poses a serious threat to women’s employment and livelihoods, especially in the informal sector where women make up 63 percent of street traders and 70 percent of workers in the horticultural sector, all of whom have been affected. hard hit.
Tailored take-back programs should target these small businesses to recover better and stronger.
On the issue of gender-based violence, we captured the attention of the nation and the world by highlighting how GBV had become a shadow pandemic in the country.
After Covid-19, we must not go back to ignoring this issue in national plans and budgets. We must maintain the same level of outrage and urgency to eradicate the vice among us that we saw at the height of the pandemic, from the Head of State, down to the family and the individual in every household. .
What are some of the projects that UN Women is leading to ensure women’s economic empowerment and resilience?
Women’s economic empowerment gives them the autonomy they need to make important life choices. We are particularly excited to have launched a program on climate smart agriculture that will increase gender inclusion in climate smart policies, increase agricultural production and income levels, nutrition and livelihoods. climate sensitive and gender sensitive in targeted communities.
The program, supported by the Korean government and in partnership with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Agency (FAO), will benefit 2,500 farmers in Kitui, Laikipia and West Pokot.
What is your assessment of Kenya’s progress towards gender equity?
Kenya is on the right track, having enacted key laws on issues such as child marriage, female genital mutilation, domestic violence, the gender two-thirds rule in the Constitution to promote women’s political leadership; protection of the inheritance rights of widows; creation of economic empowerment funds for women, youth and people with disabilities, among others.
However, without the full implementation of these laws – and insufficient funding for gender equality programs – we cannot fully protect and empower women. The slow change in harmful and negative social norms and attitudes continues to hamper progress in treating women and girls as second-class citizens without rights.
You said gender inequality is a disgrace of the 21st century. What does Kenya need to do to achieve gender equality?
You cannot change what you cannot measure – so it is essential that we strengthen the production and use of statistics disaggregated by sex. Globally, we are tragically lacking in socio-economic data disaggregated by sex.
Life experiences often differ depending on whether you are male or female, and we need to respond to them. Accurate data enables decision-makers to take action that is really needed to bring about social change.
Second, it is essential to change negative social norms and values that perpetuate gender inequality in different spheres of life. This dialogue must take place at all levels by men and women, boys and girls in daily conversations. These negative social norms are manifested, for example, in the tolerance of domestic violence, beatings and rapes, child marriage, female genital mutilation and the denial of economic opportunities for women.
As we work at the community level, we must help our decision makers in government create laws and policies that eliminate gender discrimination in every part of our lives. This includes, for example, calls to the Kenyan parliament to enact the 2/3 gender rule into law and, once achieved, push for 50/50 representation of men and women in decision-making positions.
The economic empowerment of women is also a prerequisite if we are to achieve our goals of generating decent work for all, reducing poverty and ensuring that no one is left behind. Violence against women is a disgrace. No woman deserves to live in constant fear of gender-based violence.
What are United Nations women doing to end gender-based violence?
Our approach to ending violence against women in Kenya is ambitious and multisectoral. First, we must change the social norms and negative attitudes that condone and perpetuate violence against women.
Rape culture and attitudes that normalize violence against women are rife in Kenya and need to be reversed.
This is the very beginning of the process – and one of the most difficult to implement. In partnership with grassroots, civil society organizations, community leaders, women’s and men’s groups, we seek to involve people at the individual, family and community levels and to raise awareness through dialogue and strategic forms. Communication.
We engage men and boys in a two-way conversation to understand their views and facilitate more positive social norms.
Through law enforcement, health services and justice, the state bears the primary responsibility for survivors of violence to access essential – sometimes life-saving – services. But they are also responsible for preventing violence in the first place.
It is therefore essential that national and county governments have comprehensive policies and laws to ensure that crimes do not go unpunished and that survivors receive timely health and justice services. It is essential to end impunity for these crimes.
At the same time, we continue to work to strengthen the quality services available to survivors on the ground such as safe shelters, counseling and other services.
All of these efforts must work simultaneously to create meaningful change. The media, academia and the private sector, down to the individual, all have a duty to play in the prevention and response to gender-based violence.
It has been about two years since you were appointed United Nations National Director for Women. What do you see as some of your major accomplishments to date?
I have the privilege of working with an incredible team from UN Women Kenya. Since joining the team, we’ve supported groundbreaking research that explores national and county budgets, poverty, and women’s empowerment to inform women’s policies and budgeting.
UN Women has been at the center of the Covid-19 response plan in Kenya, generating evidence and analysis of the gendered impacts of the pandemic. He briefed decision-makers on how best to respond, for example by increasing support for gender-based violence services and providing financial support to protect women from the total erosion of their livelihoods.
We participated in the multisectoral response to the reported increase in teenage pregnancies resulting from prolonged school closures. We have also drawn crucial attention to the issue of the increased burden of unpaid care work on women, with families spending more time at home.
Kenya has also joined the African Women Leaders Network (AWLN) community, thanks to the successful launch of the Kenya Chapter, bringing together women leaders to speak with one voice on relevant gender issues, including rule issue. two-thirds of the kind.
In June 2020, Kenya adopted its second National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security, which places women at the center of the country’s complex peace and security landscape.