Nairobi — President Uhuru Kenyatta has said he will continue to run an administration in which gender equality and fairness are at the core of its pursuits.
Taking note of the approaching General Election, President Kenyatta called on those who will be elected to support the two-third gender rule, as he assured the Judiciary of full backing by the Executive in its efforts to entrench gender equity.
"I will urge the Legislature and the political class that occupies it to be similarly engaged with your great mission - particularly on the issue of gender in representation, and the two-third rule," President Kenyatta said.
He was speaking in Nairobi when he officially opened the International Association of Women Judges (IAWJ) Regional Conference hosted by the Kenya Women Judges Association (KWJA).
"I am convinced to reach Africa's shining destiny of prosperity and security for all, we must simply have women as equal partners in leading and governing ourselves," President Kenyatta said.
He emphasised that girls must have the same opportunity and protection as boys, saying economic freedom must know no gender.
"We are headed in that direction and I am proud to say that my Administration will continue to pull hard to lead in this regard, and to listen closely to women from all walks of life," he said.
The President pointed out that Kenya will not be as prosperous or as fair as it aims to be if half of its population is disadvantaged and discriminated against.
"That is why I have insisted that my administration must further the cause of gender equality, and the empowerment of women in particular," the President said.
He cited the establishment of a fully-fledged State Department of Gender Affairs, the funding of initiatives to equalize socio-economic opportunities for women such as the Women Enterprise Fund and the Uwezo Fund as some of his Administration's efforts to entrench gender equality and women empowerment.
Other initiatives include rolling out of a programme for the provision of free maternity services in public hospitals, the passing of the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act of 2015, and the National Policy on Prevention and Response to Gender Based Violence 2014 as well as the representation of women in the top leadership of the Executive.
"We are passing laws, we are crafting legislation, but we must aim to do more to implement the fine ideas and sentiments that they express. The Judiciary is a point of strength in this regard," President Kenyatta said.
He commended the Kenya Women Judges Association for its role in transforming the country into a vibrant multi-party democracy with an independent judiciary.
He said: "These are great victories for our people, achieved through peaceful reforms that we cannot separate from your steadfast conviction that the Rule of Law must be protected and deepened."
The President praised Justices Effie Owuor, Joyce Aluoch and Rosslyn Nambuye among other pioneers for founding the Kenya Women Judges Association.
He said their cause not only advanced the position of Kenya's female jurists but has also stood up for the principle of gender equality, which is fundamental to the country's progress.
"You have enriched citizenship and the structure and conduct of government," the President said.
Chief Justice David Maraga said the Kenyan Judiciary has made tremendous progress in advancing gender equality, saying gender parity has been one of the judiciary's objectives in transforming its work.
"According to our latest institutional demographic survey (2016), out of 4326 employees (Judges, Magistrates, and Staff) in the Judiciary, 2032 are women! This, in the ratios of men to women, is about 53 per cent to 47 per cent," said the Chief Justice.
Chief Justice Maraga pointed out that five years ago the Judiciary had no female Court of Appeal Judge but today out of 20 judges in that court, seven are women.
"Currently, of the 157 judges that we have, 66 are women while 91 are men. This means that women judges constitute 42 per cent of the total number of judges in our Superior Courts," he said.
He said among magistrates, 214 are male while 208 are women out of a total of 422 in service today.