This is in response to the article by Caroline Mutoko "The women of my generation kinda blew it" published in the Star on June 25. The women of your generation did not blow it. And no generation has blown it actually. The struggle to change the status of women is a process; it will not happen in one generation but through many generations. It may seem not have borne fruit but it has and will continue to do so incrementally. The challenge is to have very sharp indicators that are able to sense change however small. Back in the day, we felt that there had been positive change in the area of domestic violence when Politicians spoke about it in public meetings: when religious leaders spoke about it from the pulpit. We knew that those were the necessary steps towards awareness.
And so the fact that many women are still not taking up leadership positions should not dishearten. Look at the number of women who have actually taken up those positions starting from your dear self. Look at every Industry and there they are: more women in leadership than ever before. Look at our Universities and see the number of women taking up evening classes? The streets of Nairobi at about 8.00 p.m. after evening classes empty are awash with women; young women, mothers and wives alike rushing home to catch up with their chores and other responsibilities.
Look at the chamas and apart from the economic energy, just witness the empowerment that happens at the chama meetings: women learning from each other and even inviting guest speakers to such forums. The women of your generation do not have to start where their mothers and sisters started: our mothers started the conversation form very far: we started from fighting for human rights to be considered as women's rights: claiming women 's right to own property: claiming that governance and other structures cannot be construed as properly constituted without at least 1/3 of each gender: whether a woman had the same right as a man to pass on citizenship to a foreign spouse: those conversations are now crystallized in the Constitution of Kenya.
As our younger sisters and daughters, your generation's responsibility is to run with the Constitution and claim those rights: to let those rights become common place. Remembering that apart from the National Constitution, our generation and the ones before started to rewrite many other constitutions: the family constitution so that we have a greater voice whether with our parents, our spouses or children: the work place so that we will not tolerate sexual harassment or less pay for equal work: the market place so that the market dynamics are changing and our participation is growing: please complete those Constitutions and live them!
We have been challenged to consider that the boy child is retrogressing as the girl child is progress sing. Could your generation also be tasked to ensure that both genders achieve parity in word and deed? That our goal remains equality and that no one gender will ever again be as alienated as women have been. In a nutshell, we have passed on the baton to you to push the race forward. Your strategy may be as different as the starting point but however different it may be, you are not allowed to drop the baton.
The journey is long and it is far from done but rest in the comfort that every step forward is a step in the right direction. For now we are still around and keeping vigil: we will not close an eye lest what we have achieved is negated: that is why we will go to Court for every breach of the Constitution.
Judy Thongori is a Nairobi-based family law expert.