Statement By H.E. President Uhuru Kenyatta During The Women Deliver Conference Held In Vancouver, Canada On 3-6 June 2019

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Distinguished delegates,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

1.      It is a great pleasure to join this gathering of World Leaders and Advocates of Gender Equality and the empowerment of women and girls. 

2.      I congratulate The Government of Canada and Women Deliver for convening the world in Vancouver to deliberate on how to fast-track the realization of gender equality by 2030.
3.      I commend Canada for its focus on women’s rights, and its projection of this priority through her Feminist International Assistance Foreign Policy, which is anchored in the promotion of gender equality, with a specific focus on women’s rights.  This focus is changing the way the world views the place of women rights across the spectrum of issues in society.

4.      We know that women’s rights are human rights.  But this is not just a rights issue only.  It is also an economic, political and moral issue.
5.      If the world is to prosper, offer good value of life to its citizens, good leadership that responds to the aspiration of its population, it must draw from all its peoples, and not just depend on about half of its population.

6.      In Kenya, gender equality is enshrined in the Constitution of Kenya.  It is, therefore, central to my Government’s development agenda and my Administration is devoted to an inclusive model that leaves no one behind. 
7.      We have, therefore, put in place robust policy and legal frameworks to promote, enforce and monitor equality and non-discrimination.  I have deliberately undertaken initiatives aimed at promoting gender equality and empowerment of women and girls, as set in our development blue print, Vision 2030.

8.      When I assumed the Presidency of my country, my first intervention was focused on pre –natal and post-natal health care, targeting the health of mother and child.
9.      My Government has since committed USD 480 million towards free maternity services and child immunization contributing to a significant decline in maternal and infant mortality rates.  These efforts have been augmented by the Beyond Zero Campaign, championed by the First Lady of the Republic of Kenya.

10.     In the Education sector, Kenya has put a significant effort in ensuring all children go to school.   Our free education programme has seen the achievement of gender parity in primary school enrolment. 

11.     We have now embarked on transition into secondary school and can confirm that we are at 100% of all children, including girls.  What has made this possible for girls is specific attention to their needs. 

12.     The provision of free sanitary towels to 4 million girls in primary and secondary schools has significantly increased the enrollment and retention rate of girls in schools, especially in rural areas.

13.     To enhance the realization economic rights, my Government passed a policy to reserve 30% of all government procurement to women, youth and the disabled. 

14.     Every department in my Government is obligated to report on this threshold and we have seen it improve the empowerment of women significantly.  To enable our women and youth compete, I have established a number of tools, including budget lines that offer credit and training in the technical aspects of entrepreneurship, including project execution. 

15.     To drive this agenda, my Administration established a fully-fledged department tasked to strengthen gender equality work across all sectors. This has provided an institutional mechanism to drive the pursuit of Sustainable Development Goals 5.  Currently, we are implementing a number of programmes to promote gender equality, for inclusive economic activities, prevention and response to Gender Based Violence, elimination of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and other harmful practices, Gender Mainstreaming and empowerment of the girl child.
16.     Kenya’s efforts are informed by the Sustainable Development Goals and Africa’s Agenda 2063, that recognize gender inequality as a challenge that has resulted in women facing disproportionate incidences of poverty, illiteracy and disease across Africa.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
17.     Among the critical challenges threatening the realisation of women and girls rights in Africa is conflict. 
18.     Conflicts and crisis situations compound all the challenges that we seek to address to achieve gender equality.  Of great concern is the growing “normalisation” of the targeting of women and girls for abuse during conflict.  In addition to destruction, displacement and fear amongst the population, occasioned by conflict, we know women and girls have become targets.  Weapons such as rape, abductions and forced marriages are inflicted upon them.

19.     It is against this background that I congratulate the G7 for their commitment in Charlevoix last year, of 3.8 billion US Dollars to the education of women and girls in conflict and post conflict situations.  During my meeting with Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau on the margins of the G7 Summit, we underscored the necessity of having the voices of African women and children in conflict inform discussions on appropriate intervention, at this Vancouver Conference.

20.     As a follow up to that commitment, my Government convened a Consultative Forum bringing together government officials from 18 conflict and post conflict countries in Africa, representatives of the Forum for African Women Educationists (FAWE), the African Union, the United Nations organizations, Civil Society and various regional organizations to develop a common African position on the education of girls and women in conflict and post conflict situations in Africa.   
21.     This Forum also requested that I convey the Nairobi Call for Action to Vancouver today.

Distinguished Delegates,
22.     The NAIROBI CALL FOR ACTION underscores the imperative to focus specific attention on the vulnerabilities, disruption and disempowerment that crisis and conflict situation creates for women and girls. 

23.     In the light of this it identifies eleven (11) action points as the most urgent and expeditious deliverables that must be undertaken by governments and stakeholders to ensure the education of girls and women in conflict and post conflict situations:

i.      Support to generate correct knowledge to guide interventions.  The call for action urges the imperative to support African women researchers to provide the correct gender perspective and contextual nuance that captures the reality of girls and women – this is likely to offer the most appropriate intervention options.

ii.     Conduct rigorous advocacy for mainstreaming gender analysis through out the conflict response cycle and post-conflict situations in Africa.

iii.    Equip teachers with appropriate skills and aptitude for offering psychosocial support and to be able to build urgency and life skills among the learners.

iv.     Support the recruitment and deployment of women mediators, to reinforce the gender approach in peace settlement processes.

v.      Adopt a community-based approach to eradicate the ingrained culture of Gender-Based Violence (GBV) not only as an important societal step in keeping girls and young women safe, but also as a way of changing the culture and values within society and further nurture quality education.
vi.     Promote unique educational interventions that address the needs of children with disabilities and especially those in conflict regions.  These interventions must cover the whole spectrum of children with disability: from early childhood development and care, to tertiary levels of learning with great attention to acute phases of violent conflict and period of relocation.

vii.    Call for international support and a Pan-African commitment to fully implement the African Union Continental Education Strategy for Africa (CESA 16-25) and the Gender Equality Strategy (GES) in a bid to ensure that all learners and especially those historically secluded are assisted to acquire quality education; and to ensure gender mainstreaming in Africa’s education systems.

viii.   Develop and implement re-entry policies for teenage mothers and pregnant girls to continue with their education.

ix.     Promote the establishment and strengthening of Technical, Vocational and Education Training (TVET) institutions including reviewing re-entry criteria as a mechanism to empower out-of-school girls and women.

x.      Establish and maintain safe zones for school going children and equip the relevant actors to provide holistic interventions to girls in conflict and post-conflict situations such as parenting skills to young mothers who are survivors of conflict.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
24.     The full text of the NAIROBI CALL OF ACTION is available to guide action. 

25.     I am hopeful that these points of actions and other deliberations from this Conference will not only reflect our aspirations but will inform concrete and deliberate efforts that will make a difference in the lives of those who are so far from the global platforms such as this one.  As part of my commitment, I shall present the Nairobi Call for Action, at the next African Union Ordinary Session for endorsement – and it is my hope that it will be included in the country reporting on gender equality commitments in Africa.
26.     Because we strongly believe in the empowerment of women, my Government will be taking forward the deliberations of this meeting to the world stage, shining a spotlight on sexual and reproductive health rights of women and girls in upcoming Nairobi Summit, which we shall be co-hosting with the Kingdom of Denmark, on International Conference on Population and Development, whose theme is Accelerating the Promise, between 12 and 15th November 2019.  I take this opportunity to extend to you all a very warm welcome to Nairobi.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
27.     The Power of Us must deliver a more gender equal society.  We can reduce maternal and child mortality, we can eliminate gender-based violence (GBV), increase access to family planning and deal decisively with child marriage and female genital mutilation (FGM).

28.     I have committed to end FGM in Kenya during my term as President. 

29.     We are the generation to ensure that no one is left behind, our young people especially girls must be equipped with the appropriate skills, provided with education, health and accurate information in order to realize their potential.

30.     I offer Kenya as a committed partner.  Join with us to make gender equality a reality, because it will deliver a better, more prosperous and secure world for all.

Finally, Ladies and Gentlemen,
31.     As you are all aware, today is World Environment Day.  Kenya is a trailblazing nation with regards to environmental protection and conservation, the main actors in this are women. This leadership was paved by a distinguished Kenyan woman, Prof. Wangari Maathai, whose vision saw her receive the first Noble Prize in recognition of her work for the environment and the empowerment of women.

32.     As you are aware, Kenya is host to the global environment programme, and has remained a campaigner for a sustainable environment.  In light of this commitment, two years ago we banned the use, manufacture and sale of environmentally harmful plastics, polythene bags and packaging materials.  Building on this, today we are announcing another ban on single use plastics in all our protected areas, including: National Parks, beaches, forests and conservation areas, effective 5th June, 2020. 

33.     Sustainable environment is a guarantee to a healthy, better and productive society.  And that is why women and girls who are key victims of unsustainable practices must own this campaign as part of the gender equality campaign.

I thank you.

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