REMARKS OF H.E. RAILA ODINGA AT THE ODM WOMEN’S LEAGUE MEETING;
KAJIADO, OCTOBER 8, 2020:
I am delighted to join you for this meeting of the women wing of our party, which could not have come at a better time.
We meet against the background the coronavirus pandemic that has tested our limits as a country and also showcased our potential.
Throughout this pandemic; Kenyan women proved their staying power, battling the virus while keeping our families and our economy going at the same time.
Throughout this period, our women sustained our livelihoods through micro and medium enterprises and sheer hard work and determination, waking up early to get to the farms or the markets and getting produce ferried to consumers in distant places.
They ensured supplies of basic foods remained steady especially from rural areas to the urban centres while at the same time taking care of children who had been freed from schools and keeping them safe.
I want to take this opportunity to pay sincere tribute to our women. They proved in no uncertain terms that they are the mainstay and life blood of our economy and our nation.
This is therefore a good moment to gather and reflect on women and the role our party can play to address issues affecting them. As the women wing of our party, we expect you to make the country know, by both action and words, that Women issues are ODM issues.
We are talking of inclusion of Women in the Mainstream Economy, Poverty Eradication among our people in general and women and youth in particular, Gender Based Violence, Women’s Education and Health and Women and Leadership. In more specific terms, we are talking about Murder, Rape, Brutal Physical Abuses, Harmful Practices, the denial of opportunities for the advancement of women and other vices that our society has accepted as normal.
In recent times and particularly during this Corona pandemic, we have witnessed brutal killings of women, which are taken as business as usual.
These happen at a time when in the political arena, the economy, and in social lives, women continue to face everyday systemic hardships that include exclusion, discrimination, physical and emotional violence, threats of, and actual death, sometimes at the hands of family members and boyfriends.
This year alone, our country has witnessed a number of tragic and violent crimes against women and helpless children. We are told that the key contributing factors to the violence within domestic relationships are depression, drug abuse and economic instability.
And then there are women raising their children on their own because the fathers of their children have disappeared. How do such women force the fathers of their children to take responsibility?
These are matters we expect our women wing to speak out strongly and boldly and rally the nation on.
It is important that as a party, we put the cries of these women on top of our agenda.
We expect you to ensure that our country and its institutions do not hide and bury cases of sexual harassment and the abuse of women in the workplace or any other places and organizations that are headed by men.
But we must also speak out for the boy-child. Society does not come with a finely separated playbook on what is for women and what is for men especially at youth stage. Sometimes the lines get blurred.
It is therefore important that we also have conversations around boys and men in our country so that we build a cohesive society that understands what the issues of the sexes are; a society that listens to each other’s experiences and expectations across the gender divide.
It is my expectation that our women’s wing can be able to take it upon itself to explain to our members and the country the aspirations in our Constitution with regard to women’s empowerment, the headwinds that the aspirations have ran into and our current attempts to address the stumbling blocs through the BBI process.
It is also my expectation that this important wing of our party will play an important role in explaining to our people the opportunities in the BBI process to benefit women and promote their participation in the economy and the labour market.
The BBI process also has clear proposals on youth empowerment and employment programmes with a strong bias in favour of young women.
Because of the headwinds that our current constitution has ran into with regard to women empowerment, the BBI process is picking up the lessons learnt to usher in a regime that is fully conversant with the women’s agenda and how to realize it in practice, not theory.
The BBI seeks to usher in a country that knows and understands the plight of young women and girls who live in extreme poverty in rural areas, and are excluded from economic advancement, education and decision-making.
Our ultimate goal is to give birth to a nation that goes beyond organizing gender sensitization workshops, setting up gender desks, giving women handouts and signing pledges and declarations on women’s empowerment.
We are keen to create a nation that delivers results for women and I am counting on you to ensure it happens.
I thank you and wish you fruitful deliberations.