Nouakchott — Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Monica Juma has stressed the need to empower women politically as well as economically and them in policy-making at national and continental level so as to tackle gender inequality.
Juma said that gender equality and empowerment cannot be achieved without the equal, full and effective participation of women at all levels of decision-making.
CS Juma was speaking in Mauritania last week, during the 31 st AU summit that was held in Mauritania where she was invited by the AU Directorate of Gender Affairs to speak on "Women in Power".
"The benefits of including women in development, in political processes, as key economic as drivers is well documented. Evidence has shown that supporting a stronger role for women contributes to economic growth, improves child survival and overall family health," she said.
She said women empowerment is important and in line with aspiration 6 of African Union's Agenda 2063 and Goal 5 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, both of which focus on achieving gender equality and empowering women and girls.
Noting the strides that Kenya has taken in building capacity and promoting social advancement of women and girls, Juma said sustaining career progression of women and into high level of decision making roles remains a challenge.
"In Kenya we are graduating more in girls in courses that were previously male dominated: as lawyers, doctors, engineers and scientists. Surprisingly, this lead does not have corresponding traction in the work place and career progression," she said.
Moving forward, Juma said that it is imperative to build mechanisms that support their career progression.
The landmark United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 urges countries "to ensure increased representation of women at all decision making levels in national, regional and international institutions and mechanisms for the prevention, management and resolution of conflict".
Many African countries exhibit low levels of female representation in leadership, albeit with large variations.
The African Union recently adopted a new Strategy for gender Equality and Women's Empowerment with the aim of realizing Agenda 2063 through maximizing opportunities for women and girls, ensuring their security, dignity and resilience, making laws and institutions more effective and strengthening their leadership, voice and visibility.