The Star (Nairobi)

Kenya: Seek Elective Posts, Kibaki Urges Women

President Kibaki has challenged women to fight for elective positions in the general election. He urged them to unite and participate in the country's economic development.

He was speaking yesterday in Nairobi while presiding over the 60th anniversary of the Maendeleo ya Wanawake Organisation.

Kibaki praised the constitution for putting men and women at par and challenged them to take their space in development.

He said the government will create an enabling environment for women to take part in the country's socio-economic and political development.

"The government will continue to work with other relevant stakeholders to ensure that the socio-economic status of women in Kenya is improved and their participation and visibility in the political arena is increased," he said.

Kibaki cited the creation of parliamentary elective and nominated seats, which he said have been set aside for women, the elimination of gender discrimination in land and property ownership and the right to inherit family property and equal access to land.

He urged the MYWO leadership to use its network of members and women's groups to ensure a peaceful and fair general election.

Malawian Vice President Khumbo Kachali, who attended the function praised the MYWO structure, saying President Joyce Banda rose to power of the women movement.

"Africa needs to entrust more leadership positions to women rather than sticking to our old mindset that continues to sideline them," Khachali said.

Banda, who was originally scheduled to grace yesterday's celebrations, used to live in Kenya in the 1970s and had been an active member of MYWO.

She later left for Malawi, where she continued with women empowerment initiatives that saw her start a local NGO to fight for the rights of women.

Khachali hailed the achievements that have been realised since Banda assumed office: "We have noticed great improvements in the management of our country, this shows that women can also deliver results, sometimes even better than men."

MYWO chairperson Rukia Subow said the organisation has a national outlook with a four million members and 25,000 affiliate members.

She said it is regrettable that despite women's contribution to the country's development, they are still the most affected in conflicts, malnutrition and poverty.

She appealed for peaceful coexistence and called on women to ensure a peaceful election. "Let us take advantage of the existing financial services that are being offered by the public and private institutions to uplift our lifestyles," she added.

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