Women have been limited in the past, especially because of cultural practices that deny them the chance to own property that they can use as collateral.
Even as the 60th edition of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) starts in New York, one will agree that the Kenyan woman has come a long way.
She is no longer the face of poverty but of “tenacity and resilience”. This is best exemplified by efforts women from all classes of society demonstrate at household and community level; to make something out of nearly nothing. When travelling to Northern parts of Kenya, it amazes me to watch women herd camels and goats even up to very late at night.
I always wonder about gender roles and the safety of the women as they are exposed to all elements of nature, from animals to bandits to Al Shabaab. Perhaps they have found a way around the situation. Access to water remains an issue for many women in Kenya. Indeed, women in Kenya, like in many parts of the world, “hold up half the sky”. Grandmothers hold up half of Kenya’s sky. Without the many grandmothers in the villages who take care of their grandchildren as their daughters seek employment in the cities as domestic workers, many offices would not run.
The transition rates of boys over the last five years have been above the national aggregate (between 60-72 per cent), that of girls between 44-50 per cent. According to the just released 2015 Kenya Certificate of Secondary School exam results, out of the 522,870 candidates who sat the exams 279,289 were boys while 243,581 were girls. Boys outperformed girls in 22 out of the 29 subjects. Female students did better in English, Kiswahili, Christian Religious Education, Home Science, Art and Design, German and French.
Some of the greatest achievements for Kenyan women in history are gains contained in the Constitution 2010. There are huge gains in representation, protection from harmful cultural practices, access to justice, freedom of information, privacy, ownership of property and land.