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REPUBLIC OF KENYA

REPUBLIC OF KENYA THE PRESIDENCY MINISTRY OF DEVOLUTION AND PLANNING OPENING REMARKS BY MS. ANNE WAIGURU,

THE PRESIDENCY MINISTRY OF DEVOLUTION AND PLANNING

OPENING REMARKS BY MS. ANNE WAIGURU, OGW, CABINET SECRETARY, MINISTRY OF DEVOLUTION AND PLANNING AT THE 6 TH COMMONWEALTH WOMEN PARLIAMENTARIANS AFRICA

CONFERENCE AT SAFARI PARK HOTEL, NAIROBI ON 7 TH AUGUST

2015

REPUBLIC OF KENYA THE PRESIDENCY MINISTRY OF DEVOLUTION AND PLANNING OPENING REMARKS BY MS. ANNE WAIGURU,

H.E. Mrs. Margaret Kenyatta, First Lady of the Republic of Kenya, Hon Rebecca Kadaga, MP, Hon. Lucia Witbooi, MP, CSP Chairperson, Honorable Members of Common Wealth Women Parliamentarians Present Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentmen,

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Ladies and Gentlemen;

I feel greatly honored to join you this morning during this official opening of the 6 th Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians Africa Regional Conference. This meeting is indeed significant as it will provide us an opportunity to discuss issues affecting women and girls within the Post- 2015 Development Agenda. It is indeed a worthy initiative to help move further the Gender Agenda forward.

Ladies and Gentlemen;

As you are aware, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) which were adopted in year 2000 were to be attained by 2015. Similar to most countries, Kenya has recorded mixed achievements on the 8 MDGs. Though we have not yet fully met any of the targets, as a country, we have made significant progress on MDGs 2, 3, 5 and 8 which include: Education, Gender Equality, Maternal Healthcare and Global partnership for Development. It is also worth noting that as a nation, we have made commendable economic progress.

Ladies and Gentlemen;

There’s a great deal of evidence that Kenya has made significant progress in promoting Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment. This is a key agenda of this government and is driven by the personal commitment of H.E the President.

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To begin with, Kenya’s Constitution (2010), has been lauded as one of the most progressive, comprehensive and all-encompassing constitutions in the world, with many gains for women and girls. The Constitution specifically guarantees gender equality through provisions which promote fundamental freedoms for all persons regardless of age, sex, gender, religious affiliations or persuasion. It prohibits discrimination on the basis of among other things, sex, pregnancy and marital status. The Constitution recognizes economic and social rights including the right to property, housing, a clean environment, health and education among others. Legislative and Policy measures are being undertaken to give effect to the provisions of the Constitution which include ensuring fair representation of women in key decision making positions, and that no more than 2/3rds of any one gender should hold elective or appointive public positions.

As a result of implementation of the constitution, it is worth noting that

there has been marked progress in Women’s participation in leadership,

governance and decision-making. Today, women in parliament form 25% of elected representatives, up from 9.9 per cent in 2007, an immediate and significant improvement achieved within one election cycle.

At the Cabinet level, women Cabinet Secretaries comprise 33.3 per cent.

More importantly, the Government has placed much confidence in women’s

leadership by appointing the women Cabinet Secretaries in strategic Ministries.

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In the Judiciary, the Deputy Chief Justice and the Chief Registrar of the Judiciary are women. The Supreme Court consists of 28.6 per cent of women while court of appeal consist 30.8 per cent. In High Court 40.7 per cent are women.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

In terms of policy, the Kenya’s Vision 2030, which is the Country’s national development blue print and its attendant Mid-Term Plan, also have a strong appreciation of gender matters, and adopts a mainstreaming principle to

gender issues. The vision for gender is that “men and women enjoy a high quality of life and equal opportunities”, while recognizing that addressing gender concerns is crucial for sustainable development. The MTP has various gender specific programmes and projects to mitigate inequalities in various sectors. The integration of Gender equity and empowerment of women and girls has also been undertaken in various Sector Policies.

Ladies and Gentlemen:

Kenya has adopted women’s economic empowerment as the central policy

and programme thrust in the interventions that Government is undertaking towards addressing gender inequality. At the turn of the century, it was

increasingly recognized that women, were being left out from economic development because they were not owners of factors of production. This situation had resulted in a perpetual exclusion from accessing financial

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services that would expand economic opportunities for them. This was identified as one of the key factors that was slowing down women and girls from progressing in other human development indicators. It is for this reason that the government has established various catalytic funds, fully funded by government aimed at bridging this gap in the interim. These include:

The Women Enterprise Fund (WEF)

The Women Enterprise Fund was established in 2007 to provide accessible credit to women to start and/or expand their business. The Government has invested USD64Million since inception and this has benefitted over 1million women. The Fund has been a recipient of the 2011 MDG Award by the MDGs Trust Fund.

The Youth Enterprise Development Fund

The Youth Enterprise Development Fund was established in 2006 focusing on enterprise development as a key strategy to increase participation of the Kenyan youths in employment creation and Nation building. Over USD 127Million has been disbursed to date. A good number of the youth who have benefitted from this fund are young women.

The UWEZO Fund, (translated to mean Ability)

The Uwezo

Fund was established

in

2013

with

an initial

allocation of

USD66Million. It provides interest free credit to groups of youth, women and persons with disability. The fund adopts a hybrid concept of Table

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Banking and Revolving Funds, designed to ensure that women and youth groups are able to employ the resources available for credit, while similarly promoting and sustaining a savings culture. The concept of group borrowing is aimed at correcting for physical collateral, as groups provide the needed social collateral. One strength of the Fund, is that is has invested over USD5 Million in capacity building for the target beneficiaries.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Having implemented all these, government realized that women were still missing in the numbers. It was not enough to just have women at the decision making table; and even when we gave them credit, their businesses were not growing and as such they were just getting stuck in a credit rut. Research and feedback, has revealed that though there has been considerable investment in deepening financial access as a stimulant for entrepreneurial development, there has existed a gap in terms of women owned businesses accessing the opportunities to do business. The most recent policy thrust has now focused on - Access to Markets. This has been considered as the missing link that closes the loop in economic empowerment.

It is within this backdrop, that the Government initiated a transformative policy aimed at using affirmative action, to guarantee women, youth and persons with disability, access as suppliers of goods and services to government. This is the 30% Public Procurement Preference and Reservation Regulations of 2013 which guide the implementation of the

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Public Procurement and Disposal Act, 2005. The Preference and Reservation Regulations are the basis for the Access to Government Procurement Opportunities Programme (AGPO).

The Preference Regulations reserve “at least 30%”, of all public procurement spend for business owned by women, youth and persons with disabilities (PWDs). Total government public procurement spend is approximately USD6.3 Billion annually, as such 30% translates to approximately USD2.1Billion every year. What the government is doing in

essence is putting real money in women’s hands. In doing so the

government is closing the loop in the economic empowerment cycle, by providing women access to the biggest consumer in the Kenyan market - that is Government.

So far, contracts worth USD210 million have been awarded to about 8, 000 companies owned by youth, women and persons with disabilities. Further, over 55,000 companies have been certified to benefit from the scheme. This has been acclaimed as a one of its kind initiative ..

Ladies and Gentlemen

To further support this programme, the government through the existing Funds above is providing LPO financing that will support these category of businesses in servicing their contracts. We are also partnering with the private sector, specifically banks, to see to it that the modalities for LPO financing can be more facilitative. Further in recognition of the steps that

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the government has taken, the Commonwealth Business Women is setting up in Nairobi, a regional centre for excellence in procurement that will train women entrepreneurs in certified procurement courses in conjunction with the Certified Institute of Procurement and Supplies. Partnerships such as these will go a long way in further facilitating women and youth entrepreneurship by enabling them access opportunities in government.

Ladies and Gentlemen:

As I conclude, let me note that experience has taught us that democratic ideals of inclusiveness, accountability, and transparency cannot be achieved without laws and policies that address inequalities. This includes the existing disparities on gender equality. It is therefore paramount that we weave these ideals into the social, political and economic fabric of our society, such that beyond the legal framework girls and women are able to realize all their aspirations without limitations due to gender. Our goal as a Government is not merely to have a progressive legal and policy framework but to have a country where the laws support the practical realization of empowerment and equality for women and girls. To do this we need everyone to uphold the spirit and the values of the Constitution. National government and County government; CSOs, Private sector, men and women, all need to work together to support inclusion and gender equality. Together we can ensure a country, region and world where women and girls have more choices than ever before in our history, so that their dreams are attainable.

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It is now my humble duty to invite Her Excellency the First Lady to make the key note address.

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