FEMNET has been working with flower farms in Kenya to invigorate candid reflections and conversations on equality and equity in leadership using an intersectional analysis and approach. This approach is premised on the belief that by enhancing the leadership skills and opportunities of women workers; supporting them to overcome barriers to leadership, confronting limiting attitudes towards women in the workplace, anchoring gender diversity strategies in a compelling business case, empowering institutions to prioritize gender diversity and improve workplace policies – will ultimately enable women to strengthen their competence and seek leadership positions, thereby contributing to creating and nurturing safe, equal and inclusive workplace that is a win-win for workers, management, market and the society at large.
FEMNET in collaboration with FIDA Kenya, Workers Rights Watch and Haki Mashinani have been implementing a Building Bridges for Women’s Economic Empowerment and Resilience (BBWEE) programme by Women Win in select flower farms in Kenya (Simbi Roses, Florensis Ltd, Laurel farm and Lamiflora farm). The program seeks to foster cross-sector partnerships between businesses and women’s rights organizations (WROs) and through innovative and collaborative actions, win-win solutions that benefit both the women working in the flower farms and the business in the long run towards women’s economic resilience are realized.
In March 2022, FEMNET will conduct a STAWISHA Leadership Training for the select farms to enhance the self-esteem of women leaders and equip them with requisite tools and knowledge to continue challenging norms, values and practices that continue to hinder them from thriving.
Kenya Flower Council (KFC) in Kenya
FEMNET Petitions the President of Kenya through EAC to Implement the Two-Thirds Gender Principle
After eleven years of unsuccessful national advocacy for the full implementation of the Constitution of Kenya (2010), FEMNET led women rights organizations (WROs) to the East African Community (EAC) in petitioning the President of Kenya, H.E Uhuru Kenyatta who is also the chairperson of the summit to action the implementation of the affirmative action of not more than two-thirds gender representation in elective and appointive positions (Article 27) through the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) in Arusha.
This bold move came after several failures by the parliament to pass the bill, numerous court petitions filed by women’s rights organizations and the disregard of the former Chief Justice Hon. David Maraga’s advisory to H.E President Uhuru Kenyatta to dissolve the Parliament for its unconstitutional structuring. Currently, women constitute 21% representation in the parliament.
In the spirit of Pan-Africanism, fostering regional integration and holding African governments accountable on gender equality commitments, FEMNET and CRAWN Trust handed over the petition to the speaker of EALA Rt. Hon. Martin Ngoga during a two-day thematic dialogue with EAC secretariat and EALA members in November 2021. This dialogue aimed to enhance EAC awareness on gender equality, need to develop clear guidelines on equal representation, strategies for advancing the domestication of regional protocols and challenge them to become more gender-responsive in administration, resourcing, legislation and representation in the region.
While receiving the petition from FEMNET and CRAWN Trust, the Speaker of the EALA assembly Rt. Hon. Martin Ngoga affirmed the regional assembly’s commitment in ensuring partner states adhere to the signed treaties.
“No country prospers without women’s participation. Gender equality is fundamental to the realization of human rights and key to effective and sustainable development outcomes,” said Hon. Ngoga.
The high-level forum was also attended by International IDEA who expressed their desire to contribute towards systems and processes that ensure equal participation of both women and men in politics.
“This meeting is to ensure that we engage at the highest level on meaningful political participation of women. It is an occasion where a regional body provides a space for both young women politicians and more seasoned politicians to engage through policies and legislature set at a regional level,” said Sifisosami Dube.
“Without full participation of women, the EAC integration will be compromised,” added Hon. Eng. Pamela Maasay.
The forum was hosted by FEMNET in collaboration with Tanzania Media Women’s Association (TAMWA), Crisis Resolving Center (CRC), Young and Alive Initiative, Tanzania Gender Networking Programme (TGNP) and EALA Women Caucus.
The Two-thirds gender principle in Kenya petition is in the process of being tabled at the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA).
FEMNET and CRAWN Trust are making follow up to ensure this process is effective and that the President of Kenya, H.E Uhuru Kenyatta will be responsive ahead of the upcoming election.
From the Political Leadership Academy to Ngorongoro Ballot Box
In September 2021, Rose Njilo; a 40-year-old human rights activist of Maasai origin from Ngorongoro, Arusha applied and was successfully admitted to attend the Women in Political Participation (WPP) Leadership Academy. This four-day intensive training was hosted by FEMNET in collaboration with her Wanawake Ni Viongozi coalition members in Tanzania; Tanzania Media Women’s Association, Crisis Resolving Center and Young & Alive Initiative where 30 grassroots women leaders and political aspirants were trained and equipped with knowledge and requisite skills to effectively participate in election practices and processes in Tanzania.
Rose Njilo, was among the 30 successful applicants selected from across Tanzania and her participation in the academy marked a wake-up call for her to up-scale her human rights championship at the grassroot and position herself for policy reforms in addressing the myriad gender inequality issues affecting her community including poverty, early child marriages, unequal land ownership and under-representation in decision-making spaces.
Having satisfactorily completed the academy, Rose felt empowered, challenged and propelled to register her candidature and vie for the Ngorongoro By-election held on 25th October 2021. As has been the norm the campaign process was not favourable to her due to the ingrained patriarchy, gender stereotypes and retrogressive cultures that consider a woman second class. With determination, Rose vied and emerged sixth among the nine contestants.
“The academy renewed my hope to champion for my community’s human rights through legislation. I thank FEMNET and partners for instilling the knowledge,” remarked Rose Njilo.
The result of the election did not kill her spirit as the experience gave her more motivation to push for human rights in decision-making processes. Rose, alluded her performance to among many other hindrances, the lack of academic qualification.
While attending a thematic dialogue session with East African Community (EAC) secretariat and East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) in Arusha in November 2021, Rose Njilo shared her political journey and her story inspired EALA Women Caucas to support and mentor her.
Speaking at the closing ceremony, the Guest of Honor Rt. Hon. Rebeca Kadaga; Guest of Honor and First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of EAC Affairs in Uganda applauded Rose Njilo for her bravery and mobilized the participants to fundraise towards Rose’s enrolment in college in 2022.
“If we truly want to achieve gender equality, we must support Rose to achieve her full potential. In addition to the funds raised, I will follow up to ensure that she gets enrolled in a reputable higher learning institution as we walk this journey together,” said Hon. Kadaga.
The gesture by the women parliamentarians to support Rose Njilo is an aspiring outcome where women and girls are expected to actively participate in meetings organized by the project, speak out against discrimination against women, create networks with women in politics, get involved in political parties and eventually run for elections.
The women political leaders in Arusha in return exhibited the spirit of the WPP project by actively participating in the thematic dialogue, agreeing to support Rose in her political leadership journey and continue to champion for gender equality in the assembly.
Mr. Rose Njilo boldly enrolled for the Women in Political Leadership Academy in Tanzania and with the vast knowledge acquired she ventured into politics by vying for the Ngorongoro by-election.
This was a beginning of her political journey as Ms. Rose has remained agile in her quest to address prevailing social injustices and patriarchal system that continue to hinder women from exploring their full potentials and fully contributing to sustainable development in Tanzania.
Crisis Resolving Center (CRC)
Tanzania Media Women’s Association (TAMWA)
Young and Alive Initiative