by Njoroge Kaburo
NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- UN
Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Wednesday joined Kenyans
as they commemorated the International Women’s Day (IWD) in
Nairobi where he stressed that chauvinism must be defeated all
over the world for gender equality to succeed.
said the world is far from realizing the much talked about
gender parity because many societies across the world are male
"Many societies have the tendency to hide family violence,"
he said during the celebrations, adding that it was much better
to resolve conflicts with the involvement of women.
Guterres regretted that there was significant resistance for
gender parity in many societies all over the world where
initiatives towards gender equality face many obstacles.
"Everywhere we have a male dominated culture.
"We are still far from achieving gender equality all over the
world," he told participants who included First Lady Margaret
Kenyatta who delivered the keynote address from President Uhuru
Guterres said many violations against women and girls were
taking place in families where serious abuses were always put
He said many institutions including the government,
parliament, corporates and schools are better off when they
practice gender equality.
Speaking earlier during a joint news conference with
Kenyatta, the UN chief said he had seen in his past capacity as
High Commissioner for Refugees, the suffering of women in the
most tragic circumstances that one can imagine.
"I have seen women being the great victims of poverty, of
conflict, of violations of human rights in different parts of
"The protection of women in these circumstances in absolutely
essential but I believe that the only way to make that
protection effective is to give full priority to the empowerment
of women," he said.
He called on governments to give full priority to the full
presence of women in government institutions, in political
systems, in the business community, on the board of companies,
in peace negotiations, in all aspects of society of today’s
"We do believe with a full presence of women in our
societies, development will be stronger, peace will be easier to
maintain, human rights will also be better protected," Guterres
Analysts say the presence of the UN boss at the celebrations
where he was recognized as a special guest symbolically
underlined the pole position the global body places on women in
President Kenyatta reaffirmed the government’s zero-tolerance
to any violence or discrimination against women and girls across
He said the IWD was a special occasion the world over, to not
only celebrate the gains made towards women empowerment, but to
take stock of challenges and make renewed commitments toward
He said no country can claim to be modern and progressive
unless it recognizes the importance of gender equality.
"Let me underscore that gender empowerment is important to
any society that considers itself modern and progressive.
"But equally and more fundamental is the need to ensure the
protection of the rights of women and girls," said the
In a speech read on his behalf by the First Lady, the
president said Kenya has made remarkable progress in
implementing global, regional as well as national commitments on
gender equality and empowerment of women.
He said Kenya’s record on women is clearly elaborated in
major continental frameworks like the Maputo Protocol which is
the Bill of Rights for women in Africa, the AU solemn
Declaration of Gender Equality in Africa and most recently
Africa’s Agenda 2063- a development framework that aims to
achieve a continent that is integrated, peaceful, prosperous and
Kenyatta said Kenya takes pride in the many achievements the
country has made by investing in priority intervention that are
of great benefit to its women.
United Nations encourage
gender parity in Kenya’s corporates
by Ronald Njoroge NAIROBI (Xinhua)
-- A UN official on Tuesday called for
greater participation of women in senior management positions in
Kenya’s corporates in order to promote inclusive growth.
Arjmand Banu Khan, UN Women’s Programme Specialist for Women
Economic Empowerment programme, told journalists in Nairobi that
the low participation of women poses a challenge to the
country’s development efforts.
"Studies globally have indicated that firms that have gender
parity tend to perform better compared to their peers that don’t
have strong representation of women in senior positions," Khan
said during a forum to raise awareness on the importance of
Gender Equality to the Capital Markets.
Khan noted that Kenya has made tremendous strides in the
appointment of women to boards of state owned enterprises.
"However, the private sector is still lagging behind in gender
parity," she added.
The UN official said that there is need to identify the gaps
that exist that led to low participation of women in senior
positions in corporates.
According to Khan, the amount of men and women who join
corporate annually is almost similar.
"However men tend to rise the corporate ladder much faster as
compared to women," she said.
According to UN Women, women face challenges in the workplace
such as the need to balance family life and careers.
Khan said that due to family commitment, women have a higher
exit rate at their workplace as compared to their male
She said that having women in senior positions helps the firm
as they tend to be more consultative before making critical
Rwanda marks Women’s Day,
calling to close gender gap
KIGALI Rwanda (Xinhua) --
The International Women’s Day was marked
Wednesday in Rwanda with a call to close the gender gap.
Speaking at the national celebrations in Nyabihu, in western
Rwanda, First Lady Jeannette Kagame said national development
cannot be achieved if the biggest percent of the population is
Women make up 52 percent of the about 12 million of Rwanda’s
The First Lady observed that Rwandan women’s capacity cannot
be doubted because women are already key contributors in
Rwandan women are in the public sector, been elected into
leadership positions, in private sector business and in security
organs, she said.
Up to 64 percent of Rwandan parliamentarians are women,
highest proportion of any parliament in the world.
"As we celebrate International Women’s Day, we also take the
time to reflect and celebrate great achievements accomplished by
"We remember the incredible strides that have made Rwanda one
of the pioneers in championing efforts that promote and advocate
causes for women and girls," the First Lady said.
International Women’s Day is dedicated to the continued fight
for gender parity and global celebration of the achievements of
women in society.
Gender rights are enshrined in Rwanda’s Constitution.
Mrs Kagame recalled that after the 1994 genocide against the
Tutsi, Rwandan women were left to pick up the pieces left
"Most found themselves as widows, having to assume the role
as heads of households.
"A new responsibility arose, as women were not only taking up
roles as heads of their households, but securing positions of
leadership in the country," she said.
"Through years of hard work and dedication, women in Rwanda
have helped the country cement its place in history as a country
that not only takes pride but sets the standard in promoting and
advocating women’s causes."
Several activities are lined up across the country in March
2017, a month dedicated to further empowering women in Rwanda.
The activities include family planning awareness, education,
early childhood development initiatives and sanitation.
The First Lady meanwhile urged concerted efforts to check the
problem of teenage pregnancies.
Pregnancy among teenage girls in Rwanda rose from 6.1 percent
to 7.3 per cent, according to the demographic and health survey
Mrs Kagame hailed development partners and government
institutions involved in the promotion of women and girls
The UN Resident Coordinator in Rwanda Lamin Manneh noted that
though there is a lot to celebrate in Rwanda with regard to
women empowerment there is still long way to go for the country
to reach UN’s Planet 50-50 goal.
South Sudan marks women’s
day amid calls
for punitive measures on sexual violence
JUBA South Sudan (Xinhua) --
South Sudanese officials on Wednesday urged
stronger punitive measures to deter rampant sexual violence
against women that has largely been used by warring factions as
tool of war in the more than three years of violent conflict.
The minister of Wildlife Nunu Kumba said in Juba that the
ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) will not
hesitate to punish sexual violence offences, and added that the
law would not segregate.
"Men who rape women are not men. For us as SPLM whether it’s
SPLM member that does that (rape) we condemn and we call for the
law to take it’s course," she said.
Kumba added that South Sudanese women have the power to
influence the prevailing political discord in the war-torn
"The women of South Sudan have the power to change what is
"We have also again gone to say that 25 percent political
representation is not enough and we demand 35 percent," she
The minister of Gender and Child Welfare Deng Awut called on
humanitarian agencies to do much on economic empowerment of
"Humanitarian agencies should focus much on empowering women
economically who are disadvantaged due to conflict," she said.
Meanwhile, Consular of Sweden in South Sudan Ola Nilsmo said
all forms of violence against women and girls must stop.
"We should collectively demand that all violations against
women must end and bring perpetrators to book," he said.
South Sudan descended into violence in December 2013,
following political dispute between president Salva Kiir and
former vice president Riek Machar resulting in killing of tens
of thousands and displacement of more than two million.
However, renewed July fighting in 2016 threatened to tear
apart the fragile 2015 peace agreement to end the conflict.
150,000 South Sudanese
girls receive cash grants for education
JUBA South Sudan (Xinhua) --
South Sudan on Wednesday said it granted cash
grants for education of 150,000 girls in 2017 in a bid to
prevent them from early child marriage that has kept majority
girls out of school, its official said.
The minister of General Education Deng Hoc revealed in the
capital of Juba that they are working toward making education
free for all South Sudanese children, with majority out of
school due to poverty and conflict.
"We have worked together with British government on
supporting girl education of 150,000 girls.
"These girls will receive cash transfer from Girl Education
South Sudan (GESS)," he revealed.
Girls in South Sudan face serious disadvantages in education.
The country has the worst indicators for girls’ education in
Not only are they less likely to enter school, girls are also
more likely to drop out compared to boys.
"We are working to make education free for all from the age
"I have reminded the people of South Sudan about this
provision in our constitution.
"All children must be allowed to go to school
unconditionally," Hoc said.
Women and girls in South Sudan are more likely to die during
child delivery than complete primary education.
The World Bank has estimated that only seven girls for every
ten boys attend primary education, while five girls for every
ten boys are enrolled in secondary education.
In 2013 only 500 girls were in the last grade of secondary
school in the whole country.
South Sudan joined the Global Partnership for Education in
2012, and received a 36.1 million U.S. dollar grant from the
Global Partnership for the period 2013 to 2016.
This grant, combined with an additional grant from USAID for
a total of 66 million dollars, finances the Global Partnership
for Education Program which is implemented by UNICEF South
Zimbabwe marks 2017
International Women’s Day
HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua) --
Zimbabwe on Wednesday joined the rest of
the world in commemorating the 2017 International Women’s Day.
Thousands of women and girls gathered at the Harare
International Conference Center where they celebrated the day at
a colorful event that was punctuated by song and dance.
Speaking at the event, United Nations Resident Coordinator in
Zimbabwe Bishow Parajuli said Zimbabwe has made great strides in
women empowerment and gender equality although more effort is
still needed to create an environment where women and girls can
achieve their full potential.
He noted that Zimbabwe has performed well in women
representation in parliament which currently stands at 35
percent, higher than the global average of 23 percent.
Zimbabwe had also achieved gender parity in primary education
and had enacted several laws to protect women and girls from
gender based violence and other abuses, Parajuli said.
He voiced UN’s commitment to continue supporting gender
equality and women empowerment in Zimbabwe, saying these were
key to achievement of sustainable development goals.
He said Zimbabwe, however, needs to continue working hard to
ensure women and girls have access to education and resources as
well as remove structural barriers, gender discrimination and
Ending child marriage was also key to protecting the rights
of girls and ensure they reach their potential, Parajuli said.
Zimbabwe is one of the countries in sub-Saharan Africa that
still has a high number of girls that marry under the age of 18
mainly due to poverty and harmful cultural and religious
"As the UN we would like to voice our strong commitment to
collaborate with the government of Zimbabwe to provide space for
women and girls to achieve their potential," Parajuli said.
Guest of honor and Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) deputy
governor Charity Dhliwayo said the RBZ regarded women
empowerment as one of the factors important for the development
of the nation.
The central bank had put in place several financing
mechanisms targeted at women to ensure they have easy access to
affordable financing for businesses, according to Dhliwayo.
"The RBZ has realized that women empowerment cannot be
achieved without ensuring their access to and usage of
appropriate and affordable financial products and services," she
Women’s Affairs Minister Nyasha Chikwinya challenged women to
play their part in the development of the nation.
She said her ministry was at an advanced stage of setting up
a women’s bank to cater for financial needs of women.
The Day was celebrated under the international theme "Be Bold
For Change" while Zimbabwe’s theme was "The woman we want:
bankable, business-minded, brainy, beautiful, bold, blessed and
Campus march in Egypt
marks Int’l Women’s Day
CAIRO Egypt (Xinhua) --
The Cairo University of Egypt organized Wednesday a march on its
campus under the theme of anti-sexual harassment to mark the
International Women’s Day.
Held by the university’s anti-sexual harassment unit, the
event was attended by large numbers of students, academics and
civil society activists, who chanted slogans calling for gender
During the demonstration, a number of university students and
artists performed a pro-women show that was largely applauded by
Head of the Cairo University, Professor Gaber Nassar, said
that the university shows solidarity with all women worldwide,
stressing that the society should protect women and grant them
all their legal rights.
"No community can improve without gender equality.
"Our university, which was built by donations from an
Egyptian princess decades ago, will always champion and support
women," Nassar said during the event.
Head of the University’s anti-sexual harassment unit Maha al-Saeed
said that they seized the occasion to raise awareness about
sexual harassment and penalties of verbal and physical
"There is no difference between men and women...we both have
rights and duties, we should respect each other," she said.
International Women’s Day is celebrated on March 8 every year
and it was adopted by the United Nations in 1975.