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Cablegate: International Women's Day and Mission Efforts On Gender

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PP RUEHROV
DE RUEHNR #0817/01 0860605
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 260605Z MAR 08
FM AMEMBASSY NAIROBI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5228
RUCNIAD/IGAD COLLECTIVE
RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 0001
RUEHDR/AMEMBASSY DAR ES SALAAM 5895
RUEHDJ/AMEMBASSY DJIBOUTI 5200
RUEHKM/AMEMBASSY KAMPALA 2724
RUEHKH/AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM 1976
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 2750
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 2679
RHMFIUU/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL
RHMFIUU/CJTF HOA

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 06 NAIROBI 000817

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

FOR G/IWI AND AF A/S FRAZER

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PHUM KWMN KPAO KE
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

Women's Justice and Empowerment Initiative, which was signed in
December
2007. 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.

NAIROBI 00000817 002 OF 006

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 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

NAIROBI 00000817 003 OF 006


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 ite 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 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

NAIROBI 00000817 004 OF 006


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 am 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


NAIROBI 00000817 005 OF 006


their babies from infection.

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 crisis.

--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 them.

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 sector.


NAIROBI 00000817 006 OF 006


--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

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 women.

End text.
RANNEBERGER

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