President Uhuru Kenyatta has challenged African women leaders to unite in the development of common positions and advocacy for the empowerment of women and girls.
The President emphasized the need for redoubling efforts to break gender stereotypes and attitudes that propagate discrimination against women.
“We should be bold in championing the empowerment of the youth and, in particular young women, as a necessary step towards building a secure future for our continent,” the President said.
President Kenyatta who spoke today at the inaugural African Women Leaders Network Inter-Generational Retreat on Leadership in Africa said when countries put women and girls at the centre of their development agenda, their societies and economies thrive.
He called on policy makers to cultivate governance systems that strengthen and consolidate efforts to empower young people through meaningful youth participation and equal partnership in driving their respective national development agenda.
The President urged women leaders to develop mechanisms that equip young men and women with appropriate skills, resources and opportunities.
“The experience of those of you who have been in political leadership is invaluable. I encourage you to apply it to influence the political processes in our continent to be more amenable to the participation of women in politics,” he said.
He said his administration has put in place a robust policy and legal framework to promote, enforce and monitor equality and non-discrimination.
“Indeed, I remain passionate and committed to ensuring women assume leadership positions not only in Kenya but in Africa as well,” the President said.
He pointed out that his personal commitment to ensuring women ascend to leadership positions is self-evident as proved his cabinet appointments where for the first time ever in the history of Kenya women occupy dockets such as defence that were previously a preserve of men.
“I am committed to ensuring that we become the generation that ensures that no one is left behind, that girls do not continue to endure Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and other harmful practices,” the President said as he challenged young women leaders at the meeting to learn from established women in their midst.
“Aspire to be change agents in your communities and work places; and to inspire more youth and young women to work towards a prosperous, stable and peaceful Africa,” the President said.
The retreat is being held against the backdrop of major gender equality initiatives including the Nairobi Summit on the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) that Kenya will host from 12th to 15th November 2019.
Similarly, in September 2020, the global community will mark the 25th anniversary of the 4th World Conference on Women and the adoption of the 1995 Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action.
Former President of Malawi Joyce Banda who spoke at the event praised President Kenyatta for being a global champion for the youth.
Other speakers included UN Deputy Secretary General Amina Mohammed and AU’s Bineta Diop.
Earlier at State House Nairobi, President Kenyatta received a special message from Ethiopian President Sahle-Work Zewde inviting him to be the chief guest during celebrations to mark the Ethiopian New Year in September.
The message was delivered by former Ethiopian President Mulatu Teshome who applauded President Kenyatta for his national, regional and international peace initiatives.
The former President singled out the ‘handshake’ between the Kenyan leader and former PM Raila Odinga as an initiative that has put Kenya on the world map as an icon of peace and stability saying, “as Ethiopians, we would like to emulate what Kenya has done”.
President Kenyatta said Kenya is keen to deepen its relationship with Ethiopia and called on the two neighboring countries to continue working together in the promotion of regional peace and stability.