Absa Bank Women in Business Proposition Launch

On Wednesday 5th May, 2021, Cabinet Secretary, Prof. Margaret Kobia presided over the Absa Bank Women in Business Proposition Launch.

The proposition aims to empower businesswomen in Kenya with information to help them scale up their businesses.

In her keynote address, Prof. Kobia commended Absa on their achievement of 50:50 representation of women and men at board level. She also noted with appreciation that women occupy 32 per cent of Directorship positions at Absa.

“Research has shown that, where gender diversity is valued, decisions made are better and performance improves by 30%,” she said.

The Cabinet Secretary lauded the Bank’s proactive efforts to get competent women to take up their place in the world of entrepreneurship and business which include:

1. Partnering with the International Trade Centre in July 2016 to create opportunities for women business entrepreneurs to participate in the global economy by building their capacities on financial literacy and entrepreneurship, eventually benefitting more than 5500 women;

2. Launching the Absa Group #SheCan manifesto that calls upon the Bank to continue creating equality in its workplace and across our supply value chain by ensuring that the woman is heard while running an executive coaching programme to get them ready for senior leadership;

3. Being a signatory of the UN Programme dubbed Target Gender Equality, whose main purpose is to continue bridging the gender gap; and

4. The announcement in 2020 of a KSh. 10 billion kitty to advance credit to women-owned small and medium enterprises as part of Absa’s new customer value proposition.

She noted that the Ministry of Public Service and Gender, through the implementation of the National Policy on Gender and Development (2019), has spearheaded the actualisation of provisions on gender equality in the Constitution of Kenya, 2010.

“The Ministry of Public Service and Gender remains committed to continued engagement with private sector and other strategic partners in building a stronger economy that puts women, persons with disabilities and other disadvantaged groups in the strategy,” she said.

Also present at the event was; Jeremy Awori, Managing Director, Absa Bank Kenya, Elizabeth Wasunna Ochwa, Business Banking Director Absa Bank Kenya, Christine Mwai-Marandu, Country Credit Director, Absa Bank Kenya,Anne Mutahi, OGW, Senior Advisor to The President, Anne Zaleski Mori, Head of Partnership at SheTrades, International Trade Centre, and Nancy Muthoni, National Vice Chair, Women in Bussiness Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

By Jacqueline Kirimi

Validation of Government Human Resource Information System Upgrade

Principal Secretary, Mrs. Mary Kimonye, yesterday led the State Department in validating the first software prototype of the ongoing Government Human Resource Information System (GHRIS) upgrading exercise at the Kenya School of Government, Nairobi.

The Principal Secretary led Heads of Departments and the GHRIS Implementation Committee in reviewing the prototype that has been developed by the GHRIS Software Upgrading Taskforce (GSUT).

The taskforce demonstrated the software prototype to the validation team and explored the detailed interface of the software.

In her remarks, the Principal Secretary emphasized the importance of GHRIS in delivering on the key mandate of the State Department as well as managing the HR function of the public service.

She urged the GHRIS Implementation Committee to fast track the development of all key modules required for full upgrade of the system so that it can be rolled out for use.

The Director of Management Advisory Services, Mr. David Kanji, said that GHRIS needs an upgrade to enable the consolidation of HR data across all relevant systems in the public service and to ensure the data is accurate and reliable. He noted that upgrading GHRIS is necessary to ease access to the consolidated data which will in turn improve management and policy decision making.

The GHRIS taskforce committed to complete the upgrading exercise in time for external stakeholder validation before rolling it out for implementation.

Present in the workshop were various Heads of Departments including the Principal Administrative Secretary, Mr. Steve Ndele; Secretary Human Resource Policy, Mrs. Mary Maungu; Technical Advisor to the Cabinet Secretary, Mr. Titus Ndambuki and Huduma Kenya Secretariat C.E.O, Mr. James Buyekane.

By Andrew Ishepai

Women Leaders Issue a Statement of Support on the Nomination of Justice Koome for CJ Position

Cabinet Secretary, Prof. Margaret Kobia on 29th April, 2021 led a section of women leaders to issue a statement of support on the nomination of Hon. Lady Justice Martha Koome for the position of Chief Justice of the Republic of Kenya.

The event held in Nairobi, brought together women leaders to rally their support for the nominee and take stock of the milestones that have been made in the Gender Equality and Women Empowerment agenda in Kenya.

Issuing a congratulatory statement on behalf of women leaders who had come together in Nairobi to celebrate Justice Koome’s nomination by the Judiciary Service Commission, Prof. Kobia said her nomination was due to a strong vote of confidence in the skills, knowledge and competencies she holds.

“With 33 years of experience Justice Koome has been an asset to the Judiciary, and as a former Chairperson of Federation of Women Lawyers in Kenya (FIDA), she has distinguished herself as women’s and human rights defender locally and internationally,” commended Prof. Kobia.

She further stated that Justice Koome, who will be the Kenya’s first female Chief Justice has  dealt with obstacles entrenched in social and cultural norms that deny leadership opportunities to women, crediting the nomination as a solid recognition of women’s excellence and potential for leadership in their various fields.

“We have come together to rally our support for the nominee and take stock of the milestone that have been made towards achieving gender equality and women empowerment agenda in Kenya,” said the CS, and added “Justice Koome has shattered the glass ceiling and will be one of the most admired Chief Justices in the world.”

Prof. Kobia said Justice Koome’s victory will inspire young girls in the country to pursue their dreams and thanked President Uhuru Kenyatta for fulfilling his constitutional obligation by forwarding JSC nomination of Justice Koome to the National Assembly for vetting.

In her remarks, the Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Water Hon. Sicily Kariuki noted with concern that women leaders face a lot of challenges in their course of work and therefore urged citizens to look up to them as leaders and not just as the other gender.

“As women we are motivated by Justice Koome to keep going even when we face discrimination challenges. She has unknowingly elevated women and challenged us to celebrate women in every sphere,” urged Kariuki.

Speaking at the event, Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Lands and Physical Planning Hon. Farida Karoney called upon women leaders to support Justice Koome in her new task.

“We are not in these positions because we are women. We are in these positions because we are competent Kenyans, equal to the task and we just happen to be women,” insisted Karoney.

UN Women, Country Representative Ms. Anna Mutavati said that the nomination of Justice Koome is exciting for gender equality champions in the country, and globally, because it comes at a time the world recently came together in March 2021 to launch the Generation Equality Forum Agenda.

“Kenya joins a small number of countries in Africa with women at the helm of the judiciary. As UN women, we join the rest of the world in congratulating Kenya on taking this historic step as it signifies that the country is in the right direction and is committed to achieving gender equality,” commented Ms. Mutavati.

She said that the entry of women judges into spaces from which they had historically been excluded is a positive step in the direction of judiciaries being perceived as being more transparent, inclusive, and representatives of the people whose lives they affect.

Kirinyaga Governor, Ann Waiguru in a statement read by Nairobi County Deputy Governor, Hon. Ann Kananu commended Judicial Service Commission for selecting a nominee who is not only a woman, but also one who has contributed to the advancement of justice in the country.

Waiguru thanked the President for forwarding Justice Koome’s name to Parliament for vetting, which she said is a great demonstration of confidence in women leadership.

“I urge parliamentarians to consider Justice Koome as Kenya is ready for female leadership,” she said.

Nairobi Deputy Governor, Ann Kananu lauded Justice Koome for changing the narrative, noting that 25 years ago no one could have imagined that a woman could take a mantle for such a position.

“As a woman, I feel I have achieved alot, courtesy of Justice Koome’s nomination. Her competency will steer the judiciary towards efficient service delivery. The forums that bring us in leadership shall be permanent,” cited Kananu.

Among the women leaders present at the event were Cabinet Secretaries, Ministry of Sports Tourism and Heritage, Amb. Dr. Amina Mohamed, Ministry of Industrialization, Trade and Enterprise Development, Hon. Betty Maina, Chief Administrative Secretaries Hon. Beatrice Elachi, Hon. Rachel Shebesh, Hon. Dr Jebii Kilimo, Hon. Winnie Guchu, Principal Secretary, Mrs. Mary Kimonye, Maendeleo ya Wanawake Chairperson, Mrs. Rahab Mwikali, Chairperson, Gender and Youth Sector Board, KEPSA Eva Muraya, State House, Deputy Chief of Staff Mrs. Ruth Kagia  among other dignitaries.

By Catherin Kamau

Generation Equality Forum

Cabinet Secretary, Prof. Margaret Kobia yesterday chaired an inaugural meeting of Generation Equality forum and the National Advisory Committee to deliberate on the action plan on eliminating all forms of Gender Based Violence including Female Genital Mutilation.


The objective of the meeting was to: Get to understand the Generation Equality Forum and its importance in driving the agenda for transformative change; Receive a progress report on the Status of the Generation Equality Forum at the global and national levels; Understand our roles within the leadership structure of the Generation Equality GBV Action Coalition; and Get consensus on rolling out of Generation Equality Forum in the Country.

The Beijing Platform for Action which was adopted by 189 governments committed to taking strategic, bold action in 12 critical areas of concern: poverty, education and training, health, violence, armed conflict, economy, power and decision-making, institutional mechanisms, human rights, media, environment, and the girl child.


The Generation Equality campaign demands equal pay, equal sharing of unpaid care and domestic work, an end to sexual harassment and all forms of violence against women and girls, health-care services that respond to their needs, and their equal participation in political life and decision-making in all areas of life. 


The Cabinet Secretary commended the Government of Mexico and that of France together with UN Women for initiating the Generation Equality Forum given the importance of the initiative that seeks to accelerate the achievement of Gender Equality and Empowerment of Women and Girls, as envisioned in the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action.


H.E. President Uhuru Kenyatta in 2019 re-affirmed his personal commitment and that of the Government of Kenya to provide leadership to eliminate Female Genital Mutilation which remains one of the most serious violations of the rights of women and girls.

She affirmed the Government commitment and position in the Generation Equality Forum Action Coalition on Gender Based Violence as a co-leader. 

By Brian Were

Ministry Launches Gender Policies

The Ministry of Public Service and Gender on 23rd March, 2021 launched the Gender Mainstreaming Policy in Tourism, The National Policy on Gender and Development (NPGAD), The Revised National Policy on the Eradication of FGM Policy (2019), Women Economic Empowerment Strategy 2020-2025 and a Gender Based Violence Mobile Application.

The event was among the activities being carried out during the Sixty-fifth session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW65) that started on 15th March and will end on 29th March.

Chief Administrative Secretary for Gender, Hon. Jebii Kilimo, who presided over the virtual launch noted that the policies are instrumental in tracking and monitoring changes in women’s empowerment at both levels of Government.

She noted that the key requirement is the development of national policies that provide guidance, consistency, accountability, efficiency, clarity on achieving gender equality and women empowerment, enhancing equality and inclusivity, while outlawing discriminatory practices and actions.

“The Policy and Strategy documents and the Mobile App being launched today are well aligned with the national development agenda, the long-term development plan outlined in the Vision 2030 and the Big Four Agenda priorities,” she said.

Kirinyaga County Governor and Chairperson of the Council of Governors Committee for Gender, H.E. Anne Waiguru commended the Ministry of Public Service and Gender for demonstrating commitment towards the advancement of Gender Equality and the concerted efforts to address Gender Based Violence. She also congratulated all the stakeholders for the achievement of the policy framework aimed at gender mainstreaming.

On her part, UN Women Country Director, Ms. Anna Mutavati said the launch of the gender policies is welcome and marks a milestone for Kenya as it provides a sectoral-based national framework towards attainment of gender equality and women’s empowerment.

“These policies are aimed at creating a transformed society by deliberately addressing intersectional discrimination as a mechanism of ensuring that equitable opportunities and outcome accrue to all members of the society regardless of their circumstances,” she said.

Ms. Mutavati called for full implementation of the policies through a concerted, collaborative and complimentary efforts of both levels of government, Civil Society Organizations, the Private Sector and development partners to close the gender gaps that continue to slow down development.

According to the Global Gender Gap Report (GGGR) 2020, Kenya ranks at position 109 out of 153 countries, scoring an index of 0.671. The formulation and development of these comprehensive national policies is expected to form the basis for operationalizing effective implementation of the international commitments and the stipulated provisions of the Constitution.

Principal Secretary for Gender, Prof. Collette Suda noted that Kenya has made commendable progress towards achieving gender equality and women empowerment by enabling subsidiary legislation and institutional architecture for the realisation of the promotion of women’s rights and the affirmative action measures.

“The Government of Kenya developed and revised these key policies and developed the Women Economic Empowerment Strategy and GBV Mobile App in order to address challenges faced in addressing gender parity such as economic security, GBV and individual autonomy.” She said.

Among those in attendance at the virtual launch were IDLO Country Manager, Ms. Teresa Mugadza; Tetratech International Chief of Party, Ms. Jaki Mbogo, National Gender Equality Commission CEO, Ms. Betty Sungura – Nyabuto, Uwezo Fund Board CEO, Mr. Peter Lengapiani, Anti-FGM Board CEO, Ms. Bernadette Loloju, UNFPA Representative, Ezizgeldi Hellenov among other National and County Government Officials and representatives from development partners.

By Nelly Kosgey

Advancing the Discussion on the Inclusion of Widows during 65th Session of Commission on the Status of Women

Cabinet Secretary, Prof. Margaret Kobia, yesterday attended a virtual side event on the 65th session of Commission on the Status of Women hosted by the Global Fund for Widows. The theme of the event was dubbed ‘Widowhood, Empowerment, and the Path to Public Life’.

Worldwide, it is estimated that there are over 250 million widows and nearly one in ten face discrimination and extreme poverty, along with their families with growing armed conflict, HIV and Aids, Pandemic and other threats.

In Kenya, there are approximately 4 million widows according to the Government census of 2019, who continue to face challenges that involve disinheritance, discrimination and harmful traditional practices that include cleansing rites and sexual violence.

The challenges faced by widows are an impediment to the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals.

In her address, Prof. Kobia highlighted the policy and legislative framework in place for widows in Kenya. “The Government of Kenya is reviewing its policy and legislative frameworks to facilitate the protection and empowerment of widows. In recognition of the economic and social contribution of women, including widows, to our societies, the Government is committed to empower women economically and strengthen their land, property and inheritance rights, ” she said.

The Cabinet Secretary noted the Government’s achievements in addressing the plight of widows including the establishment of pioneering programs for widows through the Ministry of Public Service and Gender that gives space for widows in political participation in local and national government.

She expressed the Government’s commitment to lead on mainstreaming widowhood as a human rights issue that must be addressed to provide them with opportunity, access, and inclusion.

On her part, UN Women Executive Director, Dr. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka said the violation of rights of widows is a global phenomenon and called for policies to address the issue. “It is important to address these issues and ensure there is a policy and legal environment for women to have recourse,” she said.

She challenged the participants to engage in discussions that will help member states to confront the issues faced by widows at the national and international level. Global Goodwill Ambassador for Widows in Peace and Security, Dr. Alie Kabba said widows globally have been left behind for too long as they continue to suffer without being acknowledged.

“In my capacity in the UN Security council and as the Global Goodwill Ambassador for Widows in Peace and Security I pledge to ensure the plight of widows is given a lasting resolution and accorded their human fundamental rights and end their human rights violations which they are faced with everyday,” he said.

Other guest speakers during the side event were Sierra Leone Minister for Gender and Children’s Affairs, Hon. Manty Tarawalli, Liberian Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection, Mrs. Williametta Saydee, Women’s World Banking President and CEO, Mary Ellen Iskendarian among others.

By Nelly Kosgey

National Stakeholders Dialogue on the 65th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW65).

Chief Administrative Secretary for Gender, Hon. Jebii Kilimo, on 18th March, 2021 presided over a virtual national stakeholders dialogue on the 65th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW65).

The Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) is the principal global intergovernmental body exclusively dedicated to the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women.

During the Commission’s annual two-week session, representatives of UN Member States, civil society organizations and UN entities gather at UN headquarters in New York. They discuss progress and gaps in the implementation of the 1995 Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, the key global policy document on gender equality, and the 23rd special session of the General Assembly held in 2000 (Beijing+5), as well as emerging issues that affect gender equality and the empowerment of women. Member States agree on further actions to accelerate progress and promote women’s enjoyment of their rights in political, economic, and social fields.

This year’s CSW65 session is being conducted virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic under the theme “women’s full and effective participation and decision-making in public life, as well as the elimination of violence, for achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls.”

The State Department for Gender is organising through a multi-sectoral committee, Kenya’s participation in a series of side events and activities.

In her statement today, Hon. Kilimo noted that Kenya had made significant progress in addressing the areas of concern on the Beijing Platform for Action and said that the theme on women’s leadership and addressing related violence is timely as the country gears for the General Election next year.

“As a country, we have made steady progress in enhancing women’s participation in decision-making and public life. Notably as evident in key positions held by women. In the Executive, the number of women Cabinet Secretaries has gradually increased from a paltry 18.8% in 2012 to the current 33.3% in 2021. In the Legislature, women represent 22% of elected members and 18% of nominated positions in the National Assembly, 27% of elected and 86% of nominated positions in Senate and 34% Members of the County Assembly. In the Judiciary, the Deputy Chief Justice and the Chief Registrar of the Judiciary are women. As at 2020, women constituted 40% out of the 108 judges. Near gender parity has been achieved at the magistracy level with males accounting for 244 magistrates and females at 215. Further, the judiciary has started to produce a body of constitutional jurisprudence on gender equality.

Principal Secretary for Gender, Prof. Collette Suda urged the stakeholders to fully engage in the process as required even under challenging circumstances to ensure the Government’s obligations on Gender are fulfilled.

“You will have the opportunity to interact with the country position paper and give your input for ownership,” she said.

On her part, UN Women Country Representative, Ms. Anna Mutavati acknowledged that the CSW continues to play a critical role in setting global standards and the resultant review of progress made in the advancement of women and girls in all spheres of life. She pledged commitment from UN Women in working with all actors to realize the vision of a more prosperous and fair world for all.

Present at the virtual meeting was Hon. Senator Petronila Were, National Gender and Equality Commission Chairperson, Dr. Joyce Mwikali Mutinda and CEO, Betty Nyabuto, Uwezo Fund Board CEO, Peter Lengapiani, among other Ministry officials and various national CSW stakeholders.

By Nelly Kosgey

The Coca Cola ‘When Women Lead’

Cabinet Secretary, Prof. Margaret Kobia today presided over a Coca Cola webinar event dubbed ‘When Women Lead’, where she laid emphasis on Government policies that are meant to address gender equality challenges.

She highlighted the role of the State Department for Gender in policy formulation, development and coordination to ensure gender equality.

“Having clear policies and funding to support the implementation is very crucial because it helps in addressing gender equality challenges and the realization of SDG 5, ” said Prof. Kobia.

The Cabinet Secretary said despite cultural issues which create barriers for gender equality and more so women representation in leadership positions, gender equity and gender equality contribute to economic development.

The webinar was attended by Deborah Mallowah, Vice President East and Central Africa, Coca Cola, Dr. Vijooh Ratansi, Chancellor, Nairobi University, Jeremy Owori, CEO Absa Bank among others.

By Brian Were

Public Service HR Officers Trained on Mental Wellbeing

The training of public service human resource management and development officers on essential counselling skills kicked-off yesterday, March 15th, at the Kenya School of Government, Embu campus.

The month-long training programme aims to equip officers with knowledge on the role of counselling in managing human resources in the public service and to generate mental health champions equipped with basic counselling skills. The training will also highlight the signs and symptoms of psychological disorders such as depression, substance abuse disorders as well as address emergent mental health challenges within the work environment.

The training, the second of its kind, comprises of 150 senior HR officers and line managers drawn from various Ministries, Departments, State Corporations and Counties. The cohort will be taken through a counselling curriculum developed by the State Department for Public Service in conjunction with the Kenya School of Government. The first cohort of 41 mental health champions was trained in February 2020.

While opening the training session, the Director of Human Resource Policy at the State Department for Public Service, Mr. Benrodgers Milaih, who was representing the Principal Secretary for Public Service noted that the current mental health trends in the country are of great concern to the Government with depression and substance abuse disorders being the two main contributors to the worrying and frequent cases of suicides, homicides and femicide. This situation is reflected in the public service as indicated by the clinical records in the counselling unit.

He noted that the Covid – 19 pandemic has exacerbated the mental health situation at the work place and this has negatively impacted work productivity. “It is in view of this prevailing situation that we find this capacity building exercise to be timely and appropriate for human resource officers because of your daily interaction with public servants and therefore are at a vantage point to be able to identify and assess the psychological needs of staff,” he remarked.

According to the World Health Organization (2019) Kenya is ranked sixth in Africa in terms of depression cases, having increased by 18% since 2005. Between 76% and 85% of people in low and middle-income countries receive no treatment for their mental disorders. This is attributed to insufficient trained health-care providers, high levels of social stigma and inaccurate assessment of the disorders.

By Andrew Ishepai

Ring the Bell for Gender Equality

Ring the Bell for Gender Equality

Cabinet Secretary, Prof. Margaret Kobia today presided over the 7th Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE) “Ring the Bell for Gender Equality” annual event in commemoration of International Women’s Day 2021. This year’s IWD theme is “Women in Leadership: Achieving an Equal Future in a Covid-19 World”.

In her remarks, Prof. Kobia noted that although progress has been made in gender equality and women empowerment, COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the world order not only in health sector but in all spheres of our lives. She pointed that about 70% of women who are in the frontline health services are making great sacrifices in supporting the efforts to combat the pandemic and its effect.

The Cabinet Secretary indicated that emerging research has revealed that women representation in sectors such as education, hospitality, wholesale and retail trade, arts and recreation, and public administration is expected to decline due to COVID-19.

“Women-owned micro, small and medium enterprises which rely on tourism have also been affected, because of greatly reduced travel and visitor arrivals globally. We need to pause and ask ourselves – does women leadership matter during such a setback?” she paused.

She further commended NSE and its member institutions for making great contribution in promoting women leadership for gender equality. “This is demonstrated by NSE being a signatory to the Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPS) and adopting the seven (7) principles into its business strategy and practice,” she said.

Prof. Kobia said the report that was commissioned by NSE in 2019 to undertake a survey to evaluate Kenyan listed companies on their performance on gender equality in the workplace has played a key role in influencing policy and programming in Kenya in regard to advancing women equality in the workplace, effectively empowering women to fully contribute to the growth of the economy.

By Nelly Kosgey


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