Nairobi- Kenya (PANA) -- Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki on Friday called upon African governments to consider empowering women through increased participation in decision-making at all levels of leadership.
Kibaki also called on African governments to focus more on provision of education that is free from gender bias and guarantees equal access to the job market.
He observed that through expanded role of women in the political and other leadership arenas, gender perspectives on the challenges facing women and girls would be mainstreamed.
He was speaking in Nairobi where he launched the African Women’s Decade with the African Union chairman, President Bingu wa Mutharika of Malawi, in attendance.
Kibaki also unveiled a commemorative plaque to mark the official launch of the African Women’s Decade.
Citing Kenya, Kibaki said the new Constitution gave women more opportunities to participate effectively in decision making nationally and in the devolved governance structures by ensuring that 15 per cent of the national budget went to the local level and 30 per cent of all public employment opportunities were reserved for women.
The new devolved structures were expected to enhance economic growth at the community level where women were the main players, he said.
He expressed optimism that the launch of the African Women’s Decade, whose objective is to enhance the implementation of commitments related to gender equality and women’s empowerment, will mark the beginning of an effective, focused and re-energized programme of empowering women in Africa.
Stressing the need to create an effective legal framework for eliminating gender violence, Kibaki said violence against women remained an issue of great concern in the continent.
He called for concerted efforts in enforcement as well as strengthening of the mechanisms for prevention and response to gender-based violence.
He called for enactment of legislation to facilitate the employment of women, enable girls to inherit land and also protect the inheritance rights of widows.
“In many parts of Africa, there is an urgent need to repeal existing laws and outlaw customs and practices that discriminate against women in relation to resources, especially land,” he said.
He urged governments to also focus their attention on implementation of various laws, programmes and policies that would enable women and girls to realize their full potential and guarantee dignified lives.
Noting that development was increasingly science and technology driven, with the labour market emphasizing on the scientific and technical education, Kibaki said the focus of girls need to be shifted from what had been regarded as their traditional subjects.