Cablegate: International Women's Day and Mission Efforts On

DE RUEHNR #0813/01 0851301
P 251301Z MAR 08





E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: International Women's Day and Mission Efforts on
Gender Equity

REF: 07 NAIROBI 4596

1. On March 11 the Ambassador hosted a reception for 500
prominent Kenya women to celebrate International Women's
Day. The event and the Ambassador's remarks were widely
covered by the media. Guests included women from civil
society, the private sector, government, Parliament, and
various walks of life. The Ambassador used the event to
highlight support for gender equity as one of the Mission's
top priorities. He also emphasized U.S. support for the
political accord, and emphasized the key role women played
in achieving that. The International Women's Day event was
part of a coordinated Mission effort to address a wide
range of issues regarding gender equity. These efforts
include the recently-signed Women's Justice and Empowerment
Initiative. A Mission working group coordinates efforts to
ensure a comprehensive approach drawing on all appropriate
USG resources. Reftel reported on the Mission's use of the
International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against
Women as an opportunity to carry out an extensive program
during the 16 days of activism and to highlight gender
equity as a policy priority.

2. Begin text of Ambassador's remarks.

I warmly welcome you to celebrate International Women's
Day. We are joining together to celebrate the strength,
courage, and contributions of women everywhere. I want to
stress that the United States is strongly committed to
promoting gender equity. We want to work with you to
foster the rights of Kenyan women and their increased
participation in all aspects of social, political, and
economic life. We view this as an integral part of the
strong and growing U.S.-Kenyan Partnership.

Though their efforts are sometimes invisible in the larger
world, women are often the real agents for change in
society, working to improve the lives of the people in
their communities even as they struggle to feed and educate
their children. The importance of the role of a woman and
mother is highlighted in the Kiswahili proverb: Asiyefunzwa
na mamaye ufunzwa na ulimwengu (If you do not follow your
mother's teachings, the world will take over). Unleashing
the potential of women is crucial in so many ways, from
economic development to the welfare of families. In fact,
without full and open participation of women in all aspects
of society, strong and lasting democratic development will
not be achieved. Studies show that when a higher number of
women hold elected office, the rate of public corruption
declines while other quality of life indicators rise. I
know that some of the distinguished women here recently
participated in the UN Conference on the Status of Women
which discussed these very issues. I congratulate you for
so ably representing the women of Kenya.

Among so many distinguished women here this evening, I
would like to recognize Fatuma Abdulkadir Adan. Fatuma
works to promote non-violent conflict resolution among the
Borana and Gabra peoples. She also has worked tirelessly to
reduce the resistance of Borana and Gabra elders to female
political candidates. For these efforts, Fatuma was our
Mission's nominee for the State Department's 2007 Freedom
Defenders award. Congratulations to you Fatuma.

Political Gains, But Much
Remains to be Accomplished

Kenyan women are making hard-fought gains, but much more
remains to be accomplished. In the 2007 elections a record
number of women ran for public office at all levels, and
did so with immense courage in the face of threats and
violence. Their perseverance paid dividends as 21 women
were sworn in as members of the 10th Parliament. Although
this number is still low, there are reasons for continued
optimism. Women MPs from the 9th Parliament who ran for re-
election recaptured their seats at nearly twice the rate of
male incumbents. This shows that when women overcome the

NAIROBI 00000813 002 OF 005

many obstacles Kenyan political culture presents and gain
positions of authority, they gain the respect and loyalty
of their constituents and are accepted as leaders. While
the 10th Parliament will focus particularly on the reform
process, I urge the women MPs to use their five-year term
to advance issues of gender equity and build upon the
legacy of their predecessors who were instrumental in
passing landmark legislation, such as the Sexual Offenses
Act of 2006.

The US will continue to assist women in exercising their
right to political participation by funding programs to
develop women leaders. Last year, five Kenyan women
participated in the Embassy's International Visitors
program, undertaking study programs on politics, law, and
conflict resolution that they have applied in their work in
Kenya. In addition, ten Kenyan women visited the U.S. for
two weeks under the "Kenyans Working for Good Governance"
citizen exchange program organized by the League of Women
Voters and funded by the U.S. These programs will continue
to support women in their quest for increased
representation in Kenya's political life.

While noting how much remains to be accomplished, it is
also important to take stock of how much has been achieved,
particularly during the past five years. I commend
President Kibaki for the initiative he undertook to
institute a program of affirmative action in government
hiring. I also welcome the government's recently announced
commitment to increase by 2 billion KS the Women's
Enterprise Fund.

The Political Crisis

As we know too well, the recent crisis and the violence
which accompanied it caused great pain and suffering in
Kenya. Women and their children suffered the most. In my
visits to displaced persons camps, I have been deeply
touched by the resilience and strength of women - who have
often lost everything - and impressed by their desire to
pick up the pieces and build a better future for themselves
and their families

Kenyan women played a crucial role in resolving this
country's recent political crisis. The voices of the
mothers, sisters and daughters of Kenya reverberated with
the leadership of both sides. Groups like Vital Voices,
Women for Peace and Justice, and the Federation of Women
Lawyers, just to name a few, were at the forefront of
calming tensions and helping achieve an equitable solution.
Countless women played a similar role in thousands of
communities and households across the country. I
congratulate you for playing such a crucial role to
energize Kenya's democratic spirit in such an effective
way. Your country owes you an immense debt of gratitude.

--------------------------------------------- --
Recognizing Defenders of Human Rights and Peace
--------------------------------------------- --

There are too many distinguished women in attendance
tonight to recognize all your contributions to achieving
the political accord and ending violence. I will just cite
one who has played an important role in civil society:

-- Njeri Kabeberi, Executive Director of the Center for
Multi-Party Democracy

She is just one of the many Kenyans who spoke out publicly
for peace, justice and the defense of human rights. As a
result she, along with other human rights defenders,
received death threats, but carried on in this important
work. Your bravery and dedication to Kenya are an
inspiration to us all.

I would also like to recognize Ms. Betty Maina who, as
chair of the Kenyan Association of Manufacturers, organized
the business community to bring pressure on political

NAIROBI 00000813 003 OF 005

leaders. Working tirelessly, she made known the negative
economic effects of the crisis on the business community
and on the average Kenyan.

I urge each and every one of you to continue to press your
leaders as they implement the reform agenda in order to
ensure that they fulfill the promise of a more inclusive,
more prosperous, and more just Kenya.

Historic Opportunities and U.S. Support

The unprecedented crisis which Kenya experienced provides
an historic opportunity for the country to emerge with
stronger democratic institutions, an even more vibrant
economy to benefit all citizens, and a more inclusive and
cohesive society. I want to note just of few of the many
efforts we are undertaking both to help Kenya emerge
stronger from the crisis and, more broadly, to promote
gender equity.

--The United States will provide support as Kenyans work to
recover from the crisis and address the underlying causes
that fueled violence. I recently announced that the U.S.
government has pledged $25 million to support Kenya's
reform, reconciliation, and rebuilding process. Kenyan
women, who will be at the forefront of these efforts, will
directly benefit from this support.

--To address gender-based violence, the US and Kenyan
governments recently signed the Women's Justice Empowerment
Initiative, which will provide $10 million to the Kenyan
government as it implements the Sexual Offenses Act of
2006. This initiative will increase public awareness of
the availability of legal remedies and care and support
services and strengthening the capacity of the legal system
- from investigation through prosecution - to protect women
from sexual violence. Working together with the Kenyan
government, we will create Kenya's first-ever rape crisis
center with DNA forensics equipment, donated by the US
government. In addition, we plan to extend and deepen our
cooperation with our civil society partners whose programs
address gender-based violence.

--In the area of health, we are continuing to support
programs reduce the incidence of Female Genital Mutilation.
The Mission works with teachers to reach a larger
proportion of affected communities, especially the children
they teach, to reduce the rate of FGM in Kenya. In other
areas of the country, we fund programs that promote an
alternative coming-of-age rite to take the place of FGM.
For example, Ruth Konchellah and her organization Cherish
Others is implementing an anti-FGM/C education program
aimed at school children in the TransMara region. This
program will reach approximately 600 young women and 30
village leaders. I'm pleased to announce that, for the
second year in a row, we will support and I will
participate in Cherish Other's annual anti-FGM run in
April. This worthwhile event brings needed public
attention to the need to eliminate FGM. I only wish I was
going to be more of a threat to the Kenyan runners.

--In that regard, yet another remarkable example of the
initiatives women are undertaking is the famous Kenyan
runner Tegla Laroupe. We regularly support and I regularly
attend the peace runs which she sponsors to bring together
groups in conflict in the Kapenguria area.

--Through the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS
Relief (PEPFAR), the U.S. Government is providing
significant support to Kenyan women and girls in the
context of prevention, treatment, and care of HIV. Two-
thirds of those receiving PEPFAR-supported anti-retroviral
therapy in Kenya are women. Nearly 800,000 pregnant women
in Kenya have received counseling and testing for
prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV, and more
than 50,000 of mothers testing HIV+ have received a
complete course of anti-retroviral prophylaxis to protect
their babies from infection.

NAIROBI 00000813 004 OF 005

PEPFAR was also the first development partner in Kenya to
support both integrated gender-based violence and HIV
programs at Nairobi Women's Hospital and the provision of
post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) to women who have been
raped and potentially exposed to HIV. PEPFAR remains the
sole development partner to disaggregate its HIV program
data by gender, a critical step to ensure HIV interventions
are targeted to, and sensitive of, the unique
vulnerabilities faced by women and girls.

--We know that economic empowerment of women is one of the
most effective ways to improve their status. Currently
women provide 80 percent of agricultural labor and manage
40 percent of Kenya's smallholder farms, yet they own only
1 per cent of agricultural land and access only 10 per cent
of credit. USAID Economic Growth programs have helped women
increase their access to finance, markets and trade, and
improved agricultural inputs and technologies. We will
redouble our efforts to see that micro-finance efforts are
targeted to women who have suffered in the post-election

--Education is another key to improving the lives of women.
We support girls' education through the Ambassador's
Scholarship Program, which provides scholarships to 3,000
female primary and secondary school students.

In these and many other ways, we are working to promote
gender equity. It is vitally important that we work in
close consultation with civil society and the government to
ensure that programs are effective. With this goal in
mind, I am pleased to announce tonight the formation of a
Women's Advisory Panel on Gender Equity Issues to share
ideas and feedback with me and my team. I will invite
representatives of civil society, business, and academia to
participate. I look forward to your insights and advice.
This initiative testifies to our commitment to intensifying
our partnership with Kenya's women in order to help empower

Looking at the accomplishments of Kenyan women, there is
great reason to be hopeful about the future. Before
closing, I want to recognize five outstanding examples of
young women; from the powerful to the humble.

--I want to congratulate Munza Hanif, who was the top
female student in the 2007 KSCE. I commend you for your
hard work and initiative. You have a very bright future
ahead of you, and we'll be expecting great things!

--Suzanne Kilolo, who is the investment manager for African
Alliance Kenya Investment Bank. There she manages client
portfolios valued at 10 billion Kshs, showing that bright,
ambitious women can succeed in the financial services

--Serah Mwangi, who as managing director of Focus
Publishers for the past 13 years, has been instrumental in
nourishing the careers of some of Kenya's best authors and
built a successful business at the same time.

--Eddah Wambui, a mother of two, who supports her two boys
working long hours as a shoeshine at city market. She is,
quite literally, a shining example.

--Inviolata Mmbwavi, an HIV positive mother of a teenage
daughter, who has been a tireless advocate for the rights
of HIV positive Kenyans. Inviolata recently formed her
own organization, Positive Living Support Groups Networks,
to assist HIV positive persons. We wish you much success
in your new endeavor.

Let me close by quoting the writer Margaret Ogola regarding
the all-important role Kenyan women and mothers play:
Mamangu alinipa busara na maisha ya mamake pamoja na
nyanyake. Nguvu na msaada ambazo zinapatikana katika jamii
ya Waafrika ni muhimu zaidi kwa kuwa ni sehemu ya utamaduni
wetu na zinapaswa kuhifadhiwa na kulelewa kwa vyovyote
vile. ("My mother handed down to me the wisdom and lives of

NAIROBI 00000813 005 OF 005

her own mother and grandmother. This strength and support
that is found in the African family is the most important
part of our culture, and should be preserved and nurtured
at all costs.")

Please take advantage of tonight's well-deserved
opportunity to celebrate your many accomplishments. Thank
you all for coming. I wish you all continued success as you
work to ensure a brighter future for Kenya and Kenyan

End text.

© Scoop Media

World Headlines


Werewolf: Gordon Campbell On North Korea, Neo-Nazism, And Milo

With a bit of luck the planet won’t be devastated by nuclear war in the next few days. US President Donald Trump will have begun to fixate on some other way to gratify his self-esteem – maybe by invading Venezuela or starting a war with Iran. More>>

Victory Declared: New Stabilisation Funding From NZ As Mosul Is Retaken

New Zealand has congratulated the Iraqi government on the successful liberation of Mosul from ISIS after a long and hard-fought campaign. More>>

Gordon Campbell: On The Current US Moves Against North Korea

If Martians visited early last week, they’d probably be scratching their heads as to why North Korea was being treated as a potential trigger for global conflict... More>>


Gordon Campbell: On The Lessons From Corbyn’s Campaign

Leaving partisan politics aside – and ignoring Jeremy Corbyn’s sensational election campaign for a moment – it has to be said that Britain is now really up shit creek... More>>


Another US Court: Fourth Circuit Rules Muslim Ban Discriminatory

ACLU: Step by step, point by point, the court laid out what has been clear from the start: The president promised to ban Muslims from the United States, and his executive orders are an attempt to do just that. More>>


  • Pacific.Scoop
  • Cafe Pacific
  • PMC