Throughout history, in every culture around the world, extraordinary women have pushed society to think bigger and move forward.
Kenyan women delegation Maendeleo Ya Wanawake, an organization that encourages women to live with fewer restraints and bigger dreams who are still glowing examples of ceaseless curiosity, boundless courage were in Tanzania. orld-changing when Recently, founders of the organisation paid a courtesy call to Mama Maria Nyerere, the wife of the first President of Tanzania.
The visit aimed at cementing the bond between Kenya and Tanzanian gallant women leaders.
Among Kenyan leaders from Maendeleo Ya Wanawake who paid visit to Mama Maria Nyerere were: Rahabu Mwikali Muiu, 64, the national chairperson of Maendeleo ya Wanawake, Ziporah Kittony, 75, Phoebe Asiyo, 84, Muthoni Gachanja Likiman, 94.
Women heroes opened up to The Citizen how they marked significant strides in their struggle to bring about positive changes in their countries.
The Maendeleo ya Wanawake,chairperson says women leaders founded a journal which expounds the role played by women and appreciating the leaders ship position they took in the establishment of Pan African Women Organization (PAWO) which is the Africa’s first and oldest collective women’s organization in their jurisdiction.
“These journals were founded by our mothers whose ages range from 80-90 years: Mama Maria Nyerere, Mama Ngina Kenyata and Mary Obote from Kenya alongside other well-wishers, who sought to front women agenda against patriarchy system and stereotyping. It is worth celebrating their achievement. They did a commendable job,” says mama Muiu.
“In the recent past the PAWO had only three countries for a long time but we now boast of covering: Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, and South Sudan. The real critical issues for women can be addressed collectively if and only if our head of states demonstrate serious commitments,” says the women chairperson.
She says the current generation makes a stark difference from their time, noting that a lot have changed in terms of technological advancement and education which something to cerebrate.
“A good number of women are now well educated and have managed to send their children and relatives to school, something which is different from out time when a few would make it to formal education system. Women were neglected into squalid life styles. They were set for marriage to be men subjects, thanks to the enlightenment that came alongside women empowerment,” she says.
She notes that women can boast off holding senior political posts, citing an example in Kenya where there are 87 women legislators.
She adds that Kenyan women legislators are more than those in Tanzania but sooner or later the 50-50 target will be realised in both countries.
Muiu says apart from celebrating women struggles, some challenges, including poverty are yet to be addressed.
She explains that some women cannot afford taking three square meals and many others are violence against women and etc.
“When I was in China, the most populous country in the world, found over 1.3billion people being able to afford three meals per day. They had good plans for everyone. It is time Africa borrowed a leaf from these developed nations. There is no point seeing our people starving amidst plenty,” she laments.
The outspoken women chairperson bemoaned water woes, noting that women have always been in the receiving end while addressing the challenge.
She says in some African societies it is women who are duty-bound to ensure all necessities are placed in their households, arguing that men have always been guests of honors in their own homes.
Women are forced to walk long distances searching water with children strapped on their backs. It Tanzania you are used to carrying buckets of water on your heads while in Kenya women tie their bucks with Khanga on their wrists. Science and technology does not augur with this dilemma. We need to change,” she says.
She says the two Presidents John Pombe Magufuli and Uhuru Kenyatta are set to address challenges facing people in their countries, especially putting in place enabling social amenities, pointing out that she know that two head of states will started walking the talk by budgeting according to the set plans.
“In our mind today we need to voice out for the women in DRC Congo, and South Sudan even as tackle of our nations. We can also say the migrants we see dying in the boats while crossing the Mediterranean Sea heading to Europe bring a lot of pain to African mothers. This malady should be nipped in the bud, “says mama Muiu.
The chairperson says most women engage in cross border business, she calls on governments of two countries to push for common market that would allow free movement of people and goods while protecting youths, human, radicalization and violent extremism among, other criminal activities.
Zipporah Kittony, 75, who has immensely contributed to women empowerment, says women have a lot of things to celebrate because they now hold prestigious leadership positions unlike in the past when they were heard of being household chefs or kitchen administrators.
“Now you see a lot of women are champion in the high positions. As you seen here women are in the pan African parliament and the first African woman to head the Beijing conference deserves accolades. The former Liberian President, Hellen Johnson Serlif exuded before the world that women are capable of changing the world,” says Zipporah.
She says a lot still need to be done in addressing challenges that push women back, including water woes power outages, noting that there is no way women can make head ways without having placed in enabling infrastructure.
Phoebe Asiyo, 84, one of the respected and in influential women leaders in Kenya says she is proud of seeing women having one voice in the African forums, a thing that helps them to push their agenda.
“African governments have played their parts to empower women leaders. We are used to attending different platforms in Mexico, Nairobi, and Beijing, forward looking strategic plans and addressing 12 critical areas concerning women in the whole world and Africa in particular. These are good strides worth reckoning with,” she notes.
She mentions the 12 critical areas as: Women and poverty, education and training of women, women and health, violence against women, women and armed conflict ,women and the economy ,women in Power and decision making ,institutional mechanisms, human rights ,institutional mechanisms, , Media, Environment the plight of a girl Child.
“Women struggles will see Africa placed in good hands in the foreseeable future. What we need is to join hands and walk the talk,” says Phoebe.
She says girls should not be discriminated for any reason and they should be trained in a way that will see them fight against any form of violence that stalls their basic rights.
She added that If girls will listen to elders they will put Africa in high position in the level of development explaining that if both girls and boys will work together using their education Africa will be the continent for everyone to live in.
Now we are insisting women to grab positions in African parliaments. They should be involved in decision making. Policy makers should take Rwanda as a good example in which 50 -50 is practically realised, thanks to other countries like Tanzania where a good number of women hold slots in Parliaments.
Muthoni Gathanja Likimani 94 says a lot are I stock for women to succeed, noting that colonial ways of thinking have been wiped out alongside all forms of discrimination.
“We had already fought against colonialists. We now need ensure women develop themselves and push for their empowerment in all walks of life. This is possible of we join hands,” she notes.
She calls on women to stand with dignity and uprightness as means of overcoming any forms of humiliation, stereotyping and discrimination.
“During colonial times no one would talk about women but now days we have platforms to vent out our feelings, thanks to enlightenment and equal access to,” she says.
She called on women to fight against tribalism, a thing of the past when a girl child was forbidden to marry a man from another tribe on unfounded grounds.
Likimani says Africa has now turned into an appalling situation that embraces new form of slavery, clarifying that it cross-border women trafficking has been rife in the recent past.
“Of recent days African girls are sold overseas like commodities. This is the new form of slavery which should be condemned in the strongest words possible,” she laments.