The Post-2015 Development Agenda and Gender Equality in Kenya

From 16 till 18 September UN Women convened an expert meeting on the post-2015 development agenda and gender equality in Kenya. Approximately 40 experts with representation from diverse backgrounds contributed to this meeting. A wide range of challenges that the world is facing were discussed, varying from specific topics such as women’s role in sustainable livelihoods, women’s health and violence against women, to more general topics such as poverty, education, economic development, food and natural resources. The expert meeting said to be committed to the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals and the acceleration of their implementation and to the prior commitments in the Beijing Platform of Action.

The Post-2015 Development Agenda and Gender Equality in Kenya
Naivaisha, 16 – 18 September 2013
Expert Meeting convened by UN Women

The deliberation on the Post 2015 Development Agenda and Gender Equality in Kenya held in Naivasha included 37 experts from Kenya, with representation from diverse backgrounds, constituencies and professional backgrounds including community organisers and women grassroots organisations, persons with disability, the youth and pastoralist communities, civil society, the government, the gender sector, the UN civil society advisory group, development partners and academia. The expertise covered a range of thematic areas, including agriculture, poverty, economic development, health, Hiv/Aids, gender based violence, education, sustainable development and climate change, peace and security, governance and women’s leadership.
We are committed to the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals and the acceleration of their implementation and to the prior commitments in the Beijing Platform of Action. We resolve to contribute to the Post-2015 Development Agenda and Beijing + 20, recognising other relevant resolutions such as UNSCR 1325 and the New Deal. We recognize the challenges we face in our country and in the world and the contribution we can make to ensure the safety of this planet and of our people. We have been inspired by the sharing of the specific expertise and experiences and discovering the common challenges we face and interests we have. We believe the problems we face are interconnected and we call for a transformative approach to address the fragility and vulnerability of our communities so that our needs and priorities are addressed in the post-2015 development framework:

1. Women’s role in sustainable livelihoods

Humankind is the custodian of the planet and the threat posed by climate change challenges everyone without distinction. The commoditisation of traditional resources and criminalisation of the use of traditional seeds threatens livelihoods. Women in our communities carry valuable knowledge and expertise to stop, adapt and mitigate the risks associated with climate change. The rights of our indigenous communities, practices, access to seeds, land and indigenous assets must be protected.  The right to produce our traditional food, crops and use of traditional methods and lifestyles, such as pastoralism, must be upheld and protected so that we can feed the people of our land.

2. Natural resources

Opportunities emerging in the context of mining and exploitation of natural resources must be set against the costs to our sustainable livelihoods, and the costs in terms of environmental damage, harm to sustainable farming practices and pastoralism and traditional protection mechanisms to feed the majority of people in our country. The competition over increasingly scarce resources emerging from globalisation threatens basic needs, such as access to water, land, food and livelihoods. Conflicts emerging over these resources, appear in many forms and many levels which are interrelated. Land should be protected so that communities can sustain themselves and help feed and sustain our country. Women’s rights must be respected so that they have access to safe drinking water, cultivable land and shelter.

3. Food

Food production is a vital economic activity of our country and women are the key providers of food crops. Food sovereignty should be enhanced by recognising the value of smallholder farmers, pastoralists and communities in providing food to their communities and enhance their supply to the national market and food chains so that it can feed the people of our country. Access to indigenous seeds, water and renewable energy are central to sustain healthy, nutritious and affordable, food production.

4. Poverty

Poverty must be understood in terms of inequality and justice. Women and girls are bearing the brunt of poverty and inequality in our country has increased.  Poverty affects our families and communities. Gender equality must be at the core of any strategy aiming at the eradication of poverty. Gender disaggregate data must be collected and understood so that the dimensions of inequality between women and men are analysed in terms of understanding root causes of poverty. Communities must be enhanced to collect and use data to effectively drive demand for accountability to the needs of citizens. The eradication of poverty must be a primary concern of our country and of the international community so as to respect the dignity of all.

5. Economic Development and the burden of unpaid care work

Women actively contribute to society and the economy and this contribution must be accounted. Inclusive development requires investments in rural and urban informal settlements. Women must get access to credit and economic resources. Women’s economic sector activities should be enhanced by widening their skills and technology capacity to improve their productive base. Women participate disproportionally to the informal sector, lacking social protection whilst the burden of care in relation to child care, elderly care, care for the sick, and care for the household is carried by women and girls often as low or unpaid work. Inclusive economic models that enhance decent work and youth employment are central to decrease gender inequalities. The economic value of care work must be recognised and women must get access to social services. Universal social protection must be put in place to ensure dignity of all and alleviate the multiple burdens on women and girls.

6. The crisis of violence against women and girls

Violence against women and girls is increasingly becoming a crisis and is heightened in conflict settings, creating fear, discrimination and powerlessness. Violence against women and girls in the culture of impunity impacts on their health, dignity and economic productivity and is compounded by the stigma carried by violence. Sexual and gender based violence also affect boys and men, and they should be engaged to help end violence against women and girls so that socio-cultural practices that perpetuate inequality are challenged. Capacities of traditional and community conflict resolution mechanisms must be made responsive to women and girls, while empowering women and girls to demand and ensure that their rights are respected. The participation of women and girls to fully share in decision-making in households and communities should be reinforced. Justice, prosecution and reconciliation mechanisms to address violence against women and girls must be equally strengthened so that rights of women and girls are upheld. Legal aid, service delivery and access to justice and services are vitally important to address the crisis of violence against women and girls.

7. Women’s Health

Increased maternal mortality rates in Kenya is alarming and efforts are required to address this worrying trend. Every person has a right to the highest attainable standard of health, including sexual reproductive health. Women must have access to Reproductive Health and Rights. The fight against HIV/Aids crucially requires that women can make decisions in relation to sexuality within and outside marriage. Girls’ must be protected from harmful cultural practices such as early marriage and Female Genital Mutilation. Women must have access to quality maternal health services with quality nursing and social staff.

8. Education

Women and girls continue to experience discrimination and exclusion from access to quality education, have lower retention rates and are underrepresented at the secondary and tertiary levels leading to reduced economic opportunities, poorer health, and increased poverty and marginalisation. Education plays a crucial role in human development and the realisation of human potential. Education for women and girls has a transformative effect on communities and societies and is the single most effective strategy to enhance the health, economic development and general well being of society. Structural socio-economic and cultural barriers to women’s education include cost, distance and harmful cultural practices and attitudes (early marriage, gender stereotypes etc). Measures must be taken to ensure equal access by women and girls to quality education, including mobile schools for pastoralist communities and boarding schools. Quality Education must be available at all levels through policies and interventions that remove structural barriers to their education and facilitate their full participation in development.

9. Women, peace and security

Conflict affects women and girls differently and they must be included as key actors in peace and security. Their substantive inclusion should be organized around the pillars of participation, protection, promotion, relief and recovery.  The post 2015 development framework must incorporate UNSCR 1325 which acknowledges women as agents of peace and presents an opportunity for Kenyan women through the Kenya National Action Plan that expounds the priority areas for women, peace and security in the context of marginalized counties in Kenya’s new devolved structures. The post 2015 Development framework must take a human security approach which focuses primarily on protecting people while promoting peace and assuring sustainable development. It has to adopt a women-centred approach for resolving inequalities that affect security. It seeks to hold the government accountable for the safety and security of Kenyan women. In the Post- 2015 Development Agenda there is need to design national targets with gender specific indicators that build on the existing gender equality commitments that the country has made. This link should prioritise the delivery of security and safety of women while stressing the importance of involving women in security, justice, and economic empowerment programmes.

10. Women’s Leadership

The exclusion of women from leadership and decision-making processes in Kenya has led to inequality and skewed policies, increasing women’s marginalisation, poverty and insecurity. Women’s participation in leadership and decision making in the social, economic and political spheres is crucial in ensuring good governance and accountability. Socio-cultural impediments against women’s leadership within communities, including pastoralist communities, must be removed. Legitimate governance requires that affirmative action is taken to ensure representation of women in governance at all levels. Decentralised governance and traditional leadership structures must be responsive to women’s needs and concerns and include women as actors in decision–making. Comprehensive support and mentoring women into political leadership and strengthening of accountability of political structures to women constituencies must be enhanced so that women can effectively influence policies through political systems, while national election systems and mechanisms must be made more conducive to the participation of women in local, county and national governance and leadership. Quality of governance must be audited by measuring the representation of women in decision making in civil society, government and the private sector.

11. Monitoring and accountability

The monitoring of the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals has been weak because of the inadequate baseline and sex-disaggregated data. The Millennium Development Goals Indicators lack a gender dimension and the monitoring of the MDGs has remained weak while indicators were not sufficiently robust in capturing the gender dimensions. The post-2015 Development Framework must use a human rights approach in its implementation. The accountability mechanisms to women’s machinery must be enhanced with a bottom up approach in a human rights based framework and in full compliance with accountability and reporting mechanisms as set out in the national constitution and international obligations. The post-2015 Development Framework must provide clear and specific international and national indicators for monitoring progress in the area of poverty eradication and women’s equality in all relevant sectors, including government, civil society and the private sector.

12. Financial resources

Inequitable distribution of resources and allocation to wrong priorities and weak accountability have contributed to not achieving the Millennium Development Goals.  The post-2015 Development Framework must include gender responsive budgeting, focusing on priorities such as: (i) the expansion of gender-sensitive public investment in quality public goods, (ii) public infrastructure, (iii) economic and social services to create employment for women;  (iv)enhancing of women’s labor market participation and productivity and (v) the provision of services to reduce the burden of unpaid care work. Gender sensitive public finance reforms must be ensured. Efficiency, transparency and accountability in budget processes must be improved through more efficient collection of revenues and targeting of expenditures that ensure gender equal outcomes. The financial sector must be restructured to ensure that credit goes to real investment and is accessible to small and medium enterprises especially in sectors dominated by women. The formal banking system and financial institutions must enhance the provision of services reaching excluded groups of poor women, small and medium enterprises, self employed workers, small holder farmers and youth, including those without land and other collateral.