Wednesday, June 12, 2024

UN Women Deputy Executive Director Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda visits Kenya, calls for increased investment for women and girls


UN Women Deputy Executive Director (DED) Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda carried out a six-day mission in Kenya, where she saw UN Women’s work first-hand, and met with women’s rights organizations and partners, to strengthen partnerships, represent UN Women at the CSO Forum and galvanize action for gender equality and women’s empowerment in the country.  

The mission took place as the Deputy Executive Director joined the UN Civil Society Conference, held on 9-10 May in Nairobi, Kenya, and as she is concluding her first 100 days in office.

DED Gumbonzvanda led the UN Women team at the UN Civil Society Conference, which brought together more than 4,000 delegates from the civil society, the governments and the UN to create space for multi-stakeholder engagement ahead of the Summit of the Future and as a venue for civil society to participate in the preparations process.

Leading the discussion on Beijing +30, DED Gumbonzvanda highlighted that 2024 and 2025 will mark milestone moments in the journey of multilateral commitments to gender equality.

“Summit of the Future and Beijing+30 present an opportunity to look carefully at hard-won gains and ensure they are not reversed. A lot remains to be done and more than ever implementation of these commitments is critical,” noted Ms. Gumbonzvanda.

Speaking at the interactive dialogue Ms. Gumbonzvanda called for gender equality and women’s rights to be at the core of the Pact for Future. “As a woman living with a disability myself, I see the Pact for Future to be about inclusion and non-discrimination, investing in human security and public services, and putting women and gender equality at the front and center of our common agenda,” she said.

The engagements of the Deputy Executive Director in Kenya underscored the country’s progress towards gender equality and women’s empowerment, while also providing an opportunity to share recommendations to further strengthen Kenya’s efforts in safeguarding women’s rights.

The mission was also a chance to review progress achieved since Kenya, in 2021, became a global co-lead of the Generation Equality Action Coalition on ending gender-based violence. Under this Action Coalition, the Government of Kenya pledged twelve concrete commitments on ending all forms of violence against women and girls, and the Government has since developed a five-year road map to achieve the commitments along with partners.

In a productive meeting with Hon. Musalia Mudavadi, Prime Cabinet Secretary and Cabinet Secretary for Foreign and Diaspora Affairs of Kenya, DED Gumbozvanda called for a renewed commitment to Generation Equality, the support for two-thirds gender principle and increased budget for gender equality and women’s empowerment.

In a meeting with the Cabinet Secretary for Gender, Culture, Arts and Heritage of Kenya, Hon. Aisha Jumwa Katana, Deputy Executive Director commended her for her leadership in promoting gender equality, particularly the work on #GenerationEquality, funding opportunities for women through dedicated funds such as women enterprise fund and affirmative action on procurement and business opportunities, the national care policy and the two-thirds gender principle.

One of the highlights of the visit was DED Gumbonzvanda’s vibrant meeting with graduates from the African Girls Can Code Initiative (AGCCI). The initiative, supported by the Government of Belgium, is empowering more than 2000 young girls across Africa to become computer programmers, creators, paving the way for future careers in ICT.

Young women shared their experiences, accomplishments, as well as the challenges they have encountered.

“The AGCCI challenged my assumptions of computer science. My parents are proud of me in pursuit of bringing change in the society. The lessons I gained, ignited my interest in ICT. I was fortunate to acquire a scholarship and as we speak; I have joined hands with my mentor to train women and girls at home,” said AGCCI graduate Betty Mwende, a second-year student at United States International – Africa, and the Vice-Chair of the Persons with Disability Club.

DED has also shared some good insights with AGCCI participants: “To all the beneficiaries of the African Girls Can Code Initiative and Triple Threat Joint Programme: Thank you for sharing your stories. They will inspire and challenge decision-makers. The UN Charter begins with ‘we the people,’ embodying the spirit of UN Women,” said DED Gumbozvanda.

In a meeting with women’s rights organizations, the Deputy Executive Director discussed the state of women’s movement building in Kenya, Generation Equality commitments and progress of implementation, CSW68 outcomes and other top gender equality issues in Kenya. More than forty feminists, women’s rights activists and advocates from across Kenya had a unique opportunity for a candid discussion with Ms. Gumbonzvanda and commended UN Women for supporting their initiatives and amplifying their voices.

UN Women Kenya enjoys strong partnerships with development partners in the country and is considered a critical player in the gender space and a thought leader in gender equality and the empowerment of women. Meeting with UN Women’s development partners, DED Gumbonzvanda appreciated their consistency in funding UN Women programs globally and in Kenya. Through their support, Kenya has witnessed significant strides in the advancement of gender equality and empowerment of women; this has been particularly evident in programs and interventions on women’s political participation and leadership, ending violence against women and girls, women’s economic empowerment, and inclusion and participation of women in peace and security efforts.

“Funding of gender equality and women’s empowerment is critical now more than ever, especially since gains achieved so far risk being reversed if funding for gender is reduced. Your unwavering support will help us continue to deliver for women and girls in Kenya and in the region,” said Ms. Gumbonzvanda.

The meeting with development partners offered a valuable platform for participants to exchange strategic insights on UN Women’s work and share recommendations to accelerate the achievement of gender equality.

Development partners, including the EU, Finland, Sweden, Italy, USAID, and Ireland, echoed UN Women’s dedication to gender equality. They appreciated the support provided by UN Women and highlighted the importance of continuously formulating effective strategies for the execution of programs and commended UN Women for successfully delivering on its mandate.

UN Women Deputy Executive Director also met with staff of UN Women Kenya and the Regional Office for East and Southern Africa, commending colleagues for their steadfast and strong contributions to gender equality and women’s empowerment.

DED also attended the East and Southern Africa Representatives Retreat and provided strategic guidance on key global priorities and vision for UN Women, to deliver at scale for women and girls in the region.

Concluding the mission, Ms. Gumbozvanda confirmed UN Women’s commitment and strong support as the country continues to advance women’s leadership and participation in decision-making.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of UN Women – Africa.

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