International Women's Day 2016

  • Heads of agencies and colleagues from the United Nations system,
  • Students of the United Nations Model UN – University Chapter,
  • Ladies and gentlemen,

It gives me great pleasure to join you today for this dialogue on ‘Planet 50:50 – my vision for gender equality in 2030’, which is part of the events we have organized here at UNON to mark International Women’s Day.

I would like to thank UN Women for spearheading this initiative.

I would also like to warmly welcome the students of the United Nations Model UN –University Chapter to today’s event. Many thanks to the UN staff members who have chosen to be here with us this morning.

Planet 50:50 by 2030: Step it up for Gender Equality! That is the theme for this year’s International Women’s Day. It evokes a sense of celebration and reflection on the gains made for women and girls.

On this day, we celebrate the visible victories for women and girls, as well as the smaller changes that perhaps are only known to their families and the individuals themselves.

This event comes a little over 7 months after world leaders adopted the 17 Sustainable Development Goals to be achieved by 2030.

Among these, Goal 5 seeks to achieve gender equality and to empower all women.

By adopting a standalone goal on gender equality, the world acknowledged that sustainable development was impossible without safeguarding the wellbeing of all women and girls.

In 2015, we were also reminded that, while change had occurred in the lives of women and girls globally, including in Kenya, they still were facing far too many old and new indignities.

It reminds us of the time-bound nature of this agenda.

Their access to equal rights and opportunities in terms of education, jobs, health, security, and safety from violence was still negatively determined by their sex.

The dream of equality, which the world had envisaged 15 years earlier through the Millennium Development Goals, was still not yet a reality for many.

This year’s theme is therefore a clarion call to action.

You might be asking yourself, what does all this mean for me? Can I really make a difference as one individual?  Is this even my business?

But consider the words of the late Nobel laureate and environmentalist Wangari Maathai:

"It's the little things citizens do. That's what will make the difference. My little thing is planting trees.”

We all know what her ‘little thing’ led to…it protected the parks we enjoy today - Uhuru Park and Karura Forest next door.

What’s your little thing? What will you do to promote gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls? Each of us here has influence in the spaces we currently occupy, at school, in our agencies, churches, mosques, temples, our homes and our communities.

Ask yourself, how can I use my influence in the space I currently occupy to promote the rights of women and girls?

How can I be part of efforts to create a world where the indignities women and girls face in 2016, will no longer exist in 2030.

You can contribute to creating a better, healthier world in which women and girls are guaranteed equal opportunities and rights, and one where men and boys are partners in these efforts.

I wish you all fruitful deliberations that will inspire you to join the efforts for gender equality -- in Kenya and around the world.

Thank you for your kind attention.