The quest for gender equality and equity at the lowest village unit in Kenya is rich in history of gains even through the Constitution of Kenya 2010. There are key areas that affect women, female youth and girls which are often underfunded. We look at key devolved functions that can immensely affect their wellbeing at the lowest village unit.Engendering the implementation of devolution process at all levels in the county as it is critical for to ensure the gender agenda is integral in county development and link this with national government processes. This requires county governments in the next five years to undertake sector wide gender mapping to ensure that gender issues are adequately addressed from the village unit and that all ministries consciously address the same in planning and subsequent implementation of projects and activities that contribute to the well-being of women, female youth and girls.
Key areas that we need to look at are (Source: Gender Responsive Budgeting and its Application to Planning in Kenya):-
1.Finding and investing in the right entry point – GRB is the first critical step so it has to be done both at national and county level.
2.Ensuring broad involvement and ownership over the long term is also critical.
3.Homing in on high-leverage sectoral priorities for achieving gender equality – this can only be achieved whilst looking at the sectoral budgets. How are we engaging the ministries of the county government? What has been allocated this time?
4. Increased access to women to and control over productive assets in a safe environment.
5. Establishing and maintaining an up to date e-database for women’s participation in economic development at all levels.
6. Collection, analysis and dissemination of gender-disaggregated data on poverty reduction.
7. Conducting and dissemination of a national study to review policy responsiveness to gender and poverty reduction.
8. Conducting and dissemination of a national study to review policy responsiveness to gender and poverty eradication.
9. Improved responsiveness of the national budget to the needs of the poorest women.
The gender agenda is critical to our development as it is a universal agenda but is being driven by five (5) key shifts listed below. This is Kenya’s roadmap to ensure practical application after the first cycle of devolution. The key pillars our government thus the country has signed to are aligned to the following areas which are a key agenda of Africa 2063 and the SDGs>-
1. Leave no one behind – The MDGs were a promise, it is now important to ensure that Post 2015 we are practical at all levels. This can only be done with us ensuring that our agenda is reflected in the county and the 4. country agenda.
2. Put sustainable development at the core – We have not achieved this as countries, what can we do to ensure that as a unit we pilot this dream at the county level by integrating social, economic and environmental development in our processes and actions?
3.Transform economies for jobs and inclusive growth – We can work with the county government to develop innovative ideas to ensure that we work with and for the lake Victoria through a key devolved function of Agriculture. This shall ensure we get our fish which are lost – fulu, duche, nyamami, mumi, ngege and compete effectively in the industry.
4. Build Peace, and effective, open and accountable institutions for all – This goes to the core of the promise of devolution in Kenya. The dwindling resources due to increasing population is increasingly conflict at the family unit and inturn transcends to the community and the spill over into borders with our neighbors. We have to ensure that as counties we participate in policy development which promotes development e.g. ensuring that early childhood learning centers which is the core of building children – our future. The devolved function of village polytechnics can also aid in ensuring that as a community who live, breathe and work with and for the lake our ideas of its sustainability is taken to the highest level i.e. the East African Community and the feedback mechanisms to reduce the conflicts we face are developed and utilized.
5. Forge new global partnerships – The SDGs asks for a radical shift to ensure practical solutions are done. This can only be done by people at the lowest unit as you have the wealth of knowledge and undocumented research which can shift the way this unique society works and lives. The partnerships being forged at county level should be cognizant of the needs at this unit and bring cooperation which shall enhance development of self and not take away everything. It is important to start knowing what partnerships the county is having and the impact it has on our livelihoods and the environment which we live and work for.
Women must be part of the conversations and actions that will optimally drive the required change which the promise of devolution brings or we shall continue being passengers and not know which direction, what pace or where we ought to be. The choice is ours.