Women strongly emerge as political leaders in Kenya

14 Sep 2017 by Ngele Ali, Team Leader, Communications and Joyous A.L. Begisen, Communications Executive, UNDP Kenya

Kenya women voters casting their ballot at a polling station in Nairobi during the 8 August 2017 General Elections. Photo: Allan Gichigi
Patriarchal underpinnings of the African society undermine prospects of women in political leadership.However, with the dispensation of the 2010 Constitution of Kenya, things are changing. It is no longer a phenomenon to have women vying competitively for elective leadership positions alongside their male counterparts. While Kenya is yet to achieve the two-thirds gender rule constitutional requirement, that ensures not more than two-thirds of the members of elective public bodies are of the same gender, efforts by civil society as well as development partners geared towards an egalitarian society are slowly beginning to bear fruit. Notably, in the just concluded 8 August 2017 General Elections, the number of women who got elected to various positions at the county and national assemblies increased significantly. The 2017 General Elections (second one since the introduction of devolved governance in 2013), saw three female elected as Governors; and Senators respectively; the number of women representatives elected to the August house also increased from 16 (in the 11th Parliament) to 23. At the county level, the number of female members at the county assembly has also increased to compared to the 2013 General Elections to about 100 from 84. … Read more

Promise or peril? Africa’s 830 million young people by 2050

14 Aug 2017 by Siddarth Chatterjee, Resident Coordinator of the United Nations and UNDP Resident Representative in Kenya and H.E. Mr John Dramani Mahama, former President of the Republic of Ghana

Many migrants use the dangerous sea route crossing between North Africa and Italy in search of a better life. © Massimo Sestini / eyevine
Last month, Spanish charity workers rescued 167 migrants arriving from Africa aboard a small boat. 2016 was the deadliest for migrants attempting to cross the Mediterranean, with at least 3800 deaths recorded. Most know the dangers they face on the route, yet still choose the possibility of death in overcrowded and unseaworthy vessels over the hopelessness of life in areas they reside. Consider this. Every 24 hours, nearly 33,000 youth across Africa join the search for employment. About 60% will be joining the army of the unemployed. Africa’s youth population is growing rapidly and is expected to reach over 830 million by 2050. Whether this spells promise or peril depends on how the continent manages its “youth bulge”. According to the World Bank, 40% of people who join rebel movements are motivated by lack of economic opportunity. The UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres noted, “The frustration generated in young people that have no hope in the future is a major source of insecurity in today’s world. And it is essential that when Governments plan their economic activities, when the international community develops forms of cooperation, they put youth employment, youth skills at the centre of all priorities...” Some estimates indicate that … Read more

Responding to drought must be sustainable, not piecemeal

18 May 2017 by Siddharth Chatterjee, United Nations Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in Kenya

Children fetching water in Dadaab, Kenya. Photo Leonard Odini/UNDP Kenya
Food security in Kenya has deteriorated significantly since the end of 2016. According to UNICEF, nearly 110,000 children under-five need treatment, up from 75,300 in August 2016. Waterholes and rivers have dried up, leading to widespread crop failure and livestock depletion. Malnutrition is widespread among children. In the hardest-hit counties of Turkana, Marsabit and Mandera, a third of children under 5 are acutely malnourished – double the emergency threshold. High malnutrition, when combined with an outbreak of cholera or measles, can lead to a surge in deaths among children and other vulnerable groups. Underfunded response We must urgently respond to this malnutrition crisis through treatment and prevention. Blanket supplementary feeding for young children and pregnant and lactating women can avert a catastrophic spike in mortality in the months ahead. … Read more

From Barriers to Bridges: Transforming the Ethiopia-Kenya Border Region

17 Mar 2017 by Siddharth Chatterjee, Resident Coordinator of the United Nations and UNDP Resident Representative in Kenya

Ambassador Amina Mohamed (right) and Dr Tedros Adhanom (left) sign an MOU in Moyale, Kenya. Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn look on, December 7, 2015. CREDIT: IGAD
Consider this. The communities around the Kenya-Ethiopia border in Moyale-Borona area have long been associated with internecine violence, extreme poverty, and environmental stress. These have led to disastrous societal consequences, including displacement, criminality and violent extremism. The 2012-2013 intercommunal clashes in Moyale town, claimed the lives of over 200 people, destroyed thousands of properties, including schools and other social amenities. The region has been viewed as largely peripheral, both economically and politically, and therefore attracted limited public and private resources. However, an innovative, comprehensive and integrated cross-border programme initiated by the Kenyan and Ethiopian governments, in partnership with the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and the United Nations (UN) is changing this narrative. … Read more

For societies to thrive, we must ensure gender equality

08 Mar 2017 by Siddharth Chatterjee, United Nations Resident Coordinator to Kenya and Ambassador Amina Mohamed, Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs and Trade in the Government of Kenya.

Africa's economy is anchored on agriculture where 70% of the population finds its upkeep. In this sector, two-thirds of the labour force comprises women. Photo: UNDP Kenya
Gender inequality is costing sub Saharan Africa US$ 95 billion annually in lost revenue. In a corporate setting, that extent of losses would call for a serious reset of the business’s operational approach. Despite stupendous advancements in science and technology, it has taken mankind two millennia to fully realize the critical role of women in the global social and economic transformation. For any country to realize its full economic and democratic potential, the quest for women’s participation in leadership and decision making must be embraced, understood, appreciated and prioritized. As we observe this year’s International Women’s Day, it is time to interrogate opportunities for the women of Africa in enhancing the growth trajectory already being seen. The Day must not pass as just another day in the calendar of carnivals; we must use it to cross-examine the impact of our actions on increasing women’s access to economic opportunity, giving women an equal voice in households and societies and closing gender gaps in education. … Read more

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