International Women Day 2021: Choose
to Challenge FGM –First Lady Margaret Kenyatta tells women
The International Women Day (IWD)
2021 comes in with a strong message to human race –to consider a call to challenge
and call out gender bias and inequality in the society.
The special day, celebrated every 8th
of March, saw women leaders across the world come together and ‘Choose To
Challenge’ in this new era of Covid-19 pandemic.
A challenged world is an alert world. Individually, we’re all responsible
for our own thoughts and actions –all day, every day. We can all choose to
challenge and call out gender bias and inequality. We can all choose to seek
out and celebrate women’s achievements. Collectively, we can all help create an
As the theme of the day goes ‘Choose
To Challenge’, women are urged to stand firm in leadership positions and “lend
out their voice” in combating harmful cultural practices demeaning equality.
A message from Kenya’s First Lady Margaret
Kenyatta during the IWD 2021 sounds clear on Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).
“We also, as women, must continue to
raise our voices and protect ourselves against harmful practices such as FGM
and early child marriage; these factors impede our pathway to reaching our
gifted potential,” said the First Lady Margaret Kenyatta.
During the commemoration of the
International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in
February, the country delved into calls to intensified on the need for civic
education to create awareness on the dangers of the practice both in urban and
At the time, an Executive Director at
Men End FGM Tony Mwebia talked to Capital News saying, “Laws alone cannot be
able to end FGM. That’s a fact. What laws do is that they deter people from the
practice of FGM. FGM is a social norm,
it is a cultural practice and it is something that takes time to change and
therefore, we need to initiate conversations with communities.”
Connoting his sentiments to First
Lady’s call, it is time the country stands together in wiping out this cultural
norm, with women Choosing To Challenge the exercise.
The First Lady spoke while presiding
over virtual celebrations of the IWD 2021, which was attended by women leaders
across the country including Commonwealth Secretary General Patricia Scotland.
She also stressed the need for more
women leaders in the country, saying that more needs to be done beyond the
“Let us continue working, together,
for the progress we all believe in. And let us begin with ourselves, in our own
spaces, in our homes, in our schools and with our children. We know that women
can bring a difference in leadership by ensuring that the needs and aspirations
of women and men, boys and girls are addressed equitably,” she said.
SG Commonwealth Patricia Scotland
stressed that gender equality and women empowerment are essential components of
human development and basic human rights.
Public Service and Gender CS Prof Margaret
Kobia said the journey of women in leadership has been long and bumpy, but their
determination and commitment has yielded fruits.
“Therefore, we celebrate the gains
made and also reflect on the social, economic, political and cultural context
in which women and girls live and work,” said CS Kobia.
Other speakers included Defence CS Dr
Monica Juma, Maendeleo ya Wanawake Organization Chairperson Rahab Muiu,
European Union Ambassador to Kenya Simon Mordue and UN Resident Coordinator
Stephen Jackson among others.