Lessons for Kenyan women as they mark international women
Written by Ida Odinga
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Let us make Kenya a better place than we found it, yes we can. Mrs. Margaret Thatcher, the former British Prime Minster one said, “I do not know anyone who has got to the top without hard work. That is the recipe”.
I am delighted to join my fellow women and Kenyans as a whole in marking this year’s International Women’s Day. This is a very special day for the women of the world as it gives us the opportunity to reflect on what we have achieved as a ‘woman race’ and what we should plan for the betterment of our society.
The United Nation’s theme for this day is “Empower Rural Women – End Hunger and Poverty”. The women of Kenya should take this theme more serious and explore ways and means of empowering each other to achieve the millennium goals and help make Kenya a better place to live.
The women of Kenya should be more focused on issues that will make them be as productive as possible and should not wait for opportunities to come their way; they should work for those opportunities to be at par with our male counterparts.
There are many challenges that the women of Kenya face be it be at home, places of work or social places. We are an underprivileged lot but together we can bring an end to this. The traditional cultural belief that defined the kitchen as a woman’s place in the society is slowly dying off and the woman is gradually realizing that indeed, she can be a part of the nation’s building.
Girl child education is what we should put more emphasis on. The women of Kenya must stand up and be counted just like their male counterparts do. We must invest heavily in the education of our girls.
We must give our girls equal opportunities to those that we give to our boys. If the old adage that ‘educating a girl is educating a community’ is anything to go by, then the world would seize every opportunity available to give every girl an education.
I mark this day while in New York City, USA. I am not here on holiday but to celebrate the achievement of our efforts in ensuring our girls receive better education, go to the best schools and achieve in life, just like boys do. I will be presenting a paper on the importance of educating girls in the modern society and my role as a fighter for women rights and the protection of their welfare in the society at the third annual Women in the World Summit hosted by Newsweek & the Daily Beast, the top Magazines in the US.
Mothers, especially those from communities with strong traditional beliefs should fight for their daughters’ rights to better education.
Women must be able to tell ‘our men, husbands, fathers, brothers and uncles’ that times have changed and they should recognize women as equal partners and not a mere objects. We cannot become what we need to be by remaining what we are.
This being an election year, I call upon all the women of Kenya to rise up to the occasion and go for as many elective positions as possible and not just sit down and wait for those seats reserved for them in the Constitution. The women of Kenya must learn to fight for positions. Although the road is bumpy, we must as a women of Kenya, work hard and follow in the footsteps of our colleagues in Uganda, Rwanda and Tanzania.
The Parliaments of Rwanda and Uganda have reasonable number of women legislators who are capable of pushing for the women’s agenda while carrying out their legislative duties. Kenya can be like them. Yes we can.
I wish all the Women of Kenya and the entire World the best as we celebrate this special day.
Thank you and God bless you all.