International Women Day 2021: Choose to Challenge FGM –First Lady Margaret Kenyatta tells women
The International Women Day (IWD) 2021 comes in with a strong message to human race –to consider a call to challenge and call out gender bias and inequality in the society.
The special day, celebrated every 8th of March, saw women leaders across the world come together and ‘Choose To Challenge’ in this new era of Covid-19 pandemic.
A challenged world is an alert world. Individually, we're all responsible for our own thoughts and actions –all day, every day. We can all choose to challenge and call out gender bias and inequality. We can all choose to seek out and celebrate women's achievements. Collectively, we can all help create an inclusive world.
As the theme of the day goes ‘Choose To Challenge’, women are urged to stand firm in leadership positions and “lend out their voice” in combating harmful cultural practices demeaning equality.
A message from Kenya’s First Lady Margaret Kenyatta during the IWD 2021 sounds clear on Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).
“We also, as women, must continue to raise our voices and protect ourselves against harmful practices such as FGM and early child marriage; these factors impede our pathway to reaching our gifted potential,” said the First Lady Margaret Kenyatta.
During the commemoration of the International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in February, the country delved into calls to intensified on the need for civic education to create awareness on the dangers of the practice both in urban and rural areas.
At the time, an Executive Director at Men End FGM Tony Mwebia talked to Capital News saying, “Laws alone cannot be able to end FGM. That’s a fact. What laws do is that they deter people from the practice of FGM. FGM is a social norm, it is a cultural practice and it is something that takes time to change and therefore, we need to initiate conversations with communities.”
Connoting his sentiments to First Lady’s call, it is time the country stands together in wiping out this cultural norm, with women Choosing To Challenge the exercise.
The First Lady spoke while presiding over virtual celebrations of the IWD 2021, which was attended by women leaders across the country including Commonwealth Secretary General Patricia Scotland.
She also stressed the need for more women leaders in the country, saying that more needs to be done beyond the Gender Rule.
“Let us continue working, together, for the progress we all believe in. And let us begin with ourselves, in our own spaces, in our homes, in our schools and with our children. We know that women can bring a difference in leadership by ensuring that the needs and aspirations of women and men, boys and girls are addressed equitably,” she said.
SG Commonwealth Patricia Scotland stressed that gender equality and women empowerment are essential components of human development and basic human rights.
Public Service and Gender CS Prof Margaret Kobia said the journey of women in leadership has been long and bumpy, but their determination and commitment has yielded fruits.
“Therefore, we celebrate the gains made and also reflect on the social, economic, political and cultural context in which women and girls live and work,” said CS Kobia.
Other speakers included Defence CS Dr Monica Juma, Maendeleo ya Wanawake Organization Chairperson Rahab Muiu, European Union Ambassador to Kenya Simon Mordue and UN Resident Coordinator Stephen Jackson among others.