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Kenya Takes the Lead in Advancing Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment at the 60th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women

Monday, 14 March 2016

The 60th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women is taking place at the United Nations Headquarters in New York from 14th -24th March 2016.  Kenya’s delegation to the Session is led by the Cabinet Secretary for Public Service, Youth and Gender and includes representation from Parliament, Council of Governors, Independent Commissions and departments that are linked to the implementation of Gender Equality and Women Empowerment.

The Commission on the Status of Women is mandated in following up the implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action which is the global policy framework, blueprint for action and a source of guidance for the realization of gender equality and human rights of women and girls.

The government of Kenya has made great strides in accelerating the implementation of the Platform for Action to ensure that it fulfils its commitments on gender equality and the empowerment of women.  To this end, the Kenya delegation has been active in the Session and the side events.

Through the side event the Kenya delegation has brought to the fore gains made in the areas of investments in gender equality, women’s economic empowerment and maternal health.  This is also an opportunity to forge strong partnerships with other countries and to learn about best practices towards the realization of equality and the empowerment of women in Kenya.

With only three months in office, the new Cabinet Secretary has hit the ground running. On Monday, she hosted a joint side event with China, Denmark and Mexico that followed up on commitments made by world leaders in September during the Global Leaders Meeting on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment.

H.E. President Uhuru Kenyatta was among the 80 leaders that made commitments to advance gender equality and ensure equal opportunity. President Kenyatta said, “I’m convinced that our nations and the world stand to gain tremendously if we continue to embrace that progress for women is progress for us all. Investing in women is more than a matter of rights; It is the right thing to do.”

To keep leaders accountable UN Women launched a commitment book at the side event The Executive Director of UN Women, Ms. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka said, “We have collated these commitments in a book form and we intend to follow up so that both SDGs and these commitments to the Beijing Platform for Action are implemented together…”

On Tuesday, Mrs. Kariuki delivered Kenya’s country statement where she highlighted efforts to mainstream gender in all sectors. She said, “for the first time in the history of our country, Kenya has a full-fledged department to strengthen gender equality work across all sectors, making this an important milestone of having an efficient institutional mechanism for the realization of the 2030 agenda for Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment.”

To ensure the realization of the 2030 agenda Mrs. Kariuki held bilateral meetings with Denmark, Tanzania, Uganda, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and UN Women to discuss partnerships for capacity building, and areas of mutual cooperation in the fight against female genital mutilation and early child marriage in the region.

And in an effort to spearhead efforts to draw attention to the issues affecting women the Cabinet Secretary has actively engaged in ministerial roundtables and side events.

On Wednesday, maternal health took center stage during a side event on “Free Maternal Health Services- Lessons from Kenya,” where Kenya partnered with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), to highlight Kenya’s efforts to improve maternal and new-born health.

H.E. the First Lady’s “Beyond Zero Campaign” was featured at the event and this and the efforts of the Kenya government were lauded by participants.

The 60th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) is the first CSW since the adoption of the historic and aspirational 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The theme for this year’s CSW is women’s empowerment and the link to sustainable development.

The CSW brings together governments, civil society, and youth. It showcases determination of governments and activists to make progress on women’s rights and gender equality.