International Women’s Day 2024: Invest in Women To Accelerate Progress

International Women’s Day 2024: Invest in Women To Accelerate Progress

By Elijah Kandie Rottok – Senior Human Rights Officer

This year the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) commemorates the International Women’s Day by joining other organisations to highlights the strength and good-will of a woman.  This day is set aside for the discussion of significant topics pertaining to women, including reproductive rights, violence and abuse against women, sexism and discrimination against them, exclusion, and women's roles in society. Kenya has made an effort to observe the day in recognition of the contributions made by women to political and socio-economic advancement.

This year’s theme is dubbed “Invest in women: Accelerate progress” and resonates with the United Nations 68th  Commission on the Status of Women priority theme ‘Accelerating the achievement of gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls by addressing poverty and strengthening institutions and financing with a gender perspective’. In order to give voice to women, the topic draws attention to important concerns surrounding investing in women as a human rights concern. It also calls for immediate action to reduce poverty by implementing gender-responsive funding and transitioning to a green economy and caring society. The subject aligns well with the Kenya Vision 2030's Social Pillar - the country's development goal that aims to create a just and united society through investing in its citizens, allowing them to experience equitable social development in a safe and clean environment.

The global financial and economic systems are implicated in the continuation of gender inequality, making it a human rights issue. In order to overcome these obstacles and create a world where all women can achieve their rights, financial resources are also needed. Women's well-being is facilitated by investments in them, and this leads to quantifiable financial wealth.

Women's experiences and opportunities are shaped by globally interconnected markets and institutions in ways that are not necessarily egalitarian. For instance, women wind up performing more unpaid care and household work due to patriarchal norms and attitudes about women in the workplace, which limits their economic agency, autonomy, and well-being. Compared to males, women perform three times as much unpaid care work; nevertheless, the economic worth of this labour is not recognized because it is not included in metrics like GDP. Women from low-income, immigrant, and racialized groups contribute a disproportionate amount of this work, underscoring the prejudice that women experience on account of their gender, ethnicity, disability, nationality, and race.

Gender equality is one of the most important social and economic concerns of our day, and investing in Women seek to addresses it. Human rights places into focus some of the barriers hindering progress including violations of the rights of women and girls.

Every type of psychological, emotional, and physical abuse that occurs in homes presents grave human rights issues that need to be resolved with coordinated efforts and a thorough legal framework.

The dedication of the KNCHR to defending the rights and welfare of every Kenyan by means of a cross-sectoral strategy that tackles societal biases, including cultural ones, which promote gender-based violence.  Our focus is on prevention, intervention, and comprehensive support, which is in line with a multi-sectoral strategy that entails cooperation between public institutions, civil society groups, and the general public.

As a National Human Rights Institution, the Constitution places an advisory role on KNCHR as the advisor to the State on its regional and international obligations. This entails ensuring compliance with obligations of the Treaties and Conventions that the country has signed and ratified, namely:

  1. The Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW);
  2. The Commission on the Status of Women (CSW);
  3. African Union Solemn Declaration on Gender Equality in Africa;
  4. Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (Maputo Protocol); and
  5. United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security.

Even so, women's legal protections have advanced. For instance, women working in the formal sector are entitled to flexible work schedules and maternity leave, which allows them to continue breastfeeding. Men can also take a paternity leave to assist following the birth of a child.

These legal safeguards are a significant advancement. However, in order to eradicate detrimental societal practices that raise the rate of child death, more funding is required. In particular, we must uphold the laws that guard against female genital mutilation, child marriage, and the reporting and prevention of abuse against women and girls. In order to expand women's prospects for earning income, particularly in peri-urban areas, we also need to see more women in leadership roles within communities and in vocational training.

More investments and policies that increase women's access to high-quality healthcare, particularly for maternity and child health, are key areas that KNCHR would want to see realized. This covers pre-natal care and reproductive health; in particular, there is urgent need to attain a decrease in maternal mortality and access to commodities on sexual and reproductive health.

In addition to providing health care, there is more that has to be done to stop gender-based violence and support survivors, such as giving them access to support and legal services. There is also need to provide equal wages, access to funding, and mentorship programs for women in business and the workforce. The key is leadership. Generally speaking, more women need to be given the chance to hold leadership positions in all spheres of life, including public health, business, science, politics and arts.

Social protection, which is essential for lowering poverty and vulnerability, is one of the most significant areas of investment for gender equality. Women require access to land, information, technology, and natural resources in addition to financial resources. In addition, women are less likely than men to own agricultural property or to have tenure rights over it. Since human rights are inestimable, achieving gender equality and women's empowerment does not require a business case. However, it is well known that women make direct contributions to the economy through their participation in formal employment and entrepreneurship, as well as indirect contributions like the disproportionate amount of unpaid caregiving that they perform.

There are opportunities to invest in women. Studies reveal that investing on the care industry for instance, potentially results in 30% fewer greenhouse gas emissions and nearly three times as many jobs as spending on construction. Aside from providing women the much-needed time, investments in care will allow women to participate in economic, educational, and recreational activities of their choosing. In order to develop transformative solutions that help women achieve their rights, break free from the cycle of poverty, and genuinely prosper, it is essential to acknowledge women's rights as an investment issue. A key component of creating inclusive communities is investing in women. All of us benefit from women's progress.

To invest in women is to provide them with the tools and chances that will advance their economic and personal development, fulfilment, and empowerment. This entails giving women access to education and financial aid as well as avenues where they may express themselves and effect change without compromising their dignity or sense of autonomy.
Investing in women provides a lot of advantages. Women will emphasize providing their children with a quality education and sharing their expertise with their communities, thus there is often a multiplier effect. Women are more trustworthy since they don't mishandle money too often. Their ability to recognize and apply practical answers to societal problems stems from their pivotal role in social dynamics.

Women are better able to exercise their agency and fulfil their rights when they are successful in the workplace. However, any employment will not do; it must be productive and conducted in a way that upholds dignity, equity, freedom, and security.

Women are known to improve their families and communities, thus there are wider benefits to investing in women than just the individual. Women typically contribute to small business chances, wholesome crops, and their children's education. Therefore, investing in women can lower poverty and hunger while also increasing literacy rates.

In the words of Liya Kebede, “Investing in women's lives is an investment in in human rights, sustainable development, in future generations - and consequently in our own long-term national interests.”



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