Having lost my dad very many years ago, my siblings and I were left under the care of my mother, a peasant farmer which was not a bed of roses so to speak. So am in a perfect position to appreciate how important women are in our lives. The notion that women are lesser beings is the worst retrogressive belief in a modern world. Surprisingly, even the so called middle and affluent social classes in Kenya still struggle to address gender discrimination. Recently we were all taken aback by the court case between Limuru Country Club and three of its members who all happen to be women. The simple disagreement was that leadership is solely a man’s affair, its non negotiable. The women were not ready to hear none of that, in fact through their lawyer Philip Murgor articulately quote article 26 of Kenya Constitution which expounds on equal rights for both gender in social, economic, political and cultural opportunities. We read of sexual harassment in offices everyday, we know of friends and colleagues who have lost lucrative jobs after being blackmailed by their bosses. Not a single week passes without news of male teachers either raping or impregnating their pupils.
Speaking of rape, according to Kenya police statistics, every dawn five children wake up defiled and two women raped. Its estimated that only one out of twenty women report the ordeal to police and only one in every six, seek medical assistance. What is most worrying is that these figures could be higher as many victims shy away from disclosing. The sad part is that, parents are still willing to negotiate after being lured with money by the culprits. In India a new rape case is reported after every twenty minutes, abductions and violence on women is a daily occurrence. December last year the gang rape of a 23 year old student in a bus in Delhi city sparked protests worldwide. What was even more shocking is the beating up of the victim and her friend and leaving them for the dead. The young lady later succumbed to injuries. Few days ago still in India, a Swiss tourist couple was attacked. The woman and her husband who were on a cycling tour were allegedly assaulted by a group of men, beating the husband and raping the wife. Opposition lawmakers in India have organised protests calling on State Home minister to resign due to escalating rape cases and collapsing rule of law.
In Saudi Arabia, although women make up 70% of students who enroll to university, for social reasons they make only 5% of the workforce. Its even illegal for women to drive in the cities as apparently ‘erodes’ their cultural values.Did you know that Saudi Arabian women do not vote, neither can they be elected in high political positions? According to United Nation’s figures, up to 7 in every 10 women are beaten, raped, abused or mutilated in their lifetimes. While 125 countries penalise violence on women, we still have 603 million women globally who are vulnerable to laws that do not consider it a crime. Its through this facts that we as Kenyans deserve to be proud of ourselves. Why I say so is because we have made tremendous progress in upholding women rights.
Millennium Development Goals which is a blueprint agreed by world countries to reduce poverty rates, spread of HIV/AIDs, expansion of universal primary education among others by 2015, has Goal 3 specifically focusing on gender equality and women empowerment. With less than three years left, any likely hood of achieving the goals remains elusive. In the 2012 Detailed Chart,a report showing how women are faring in global progress in relation to M.D.G revealed that, they continue to be poorer than men on global scale, more girls are in primary school but the gap widens in secondary school, not to mention the poor are likely not to attend school.
World icon Archbishop Desmond Tutu has been vocal on the world to embrace women leadership terming it key in ensuring political stability and peace sustainability. I dare you to ignore women at your own peril, next time it could be your sister, mother, daughter, girlfriend or even wife abducted or raped.Lets champion women rights for the common good.