Oxfam international boss Winnie Byanyima says she is committed to ensuring resources for women’s organisations increase.
“I will ensure that Oxfam increases allocation of its resources for women’s organisations,” Winnie pledged while speaking at the African Women Leaders Symposium, Safari Park Nairobi, 24 Aug 2016.
“I will take the risk if I fail I will take the responsibility. I will keep daring,” added Winnie who together with Kenya’s Foreign Affairs CS Amb. Amina Mohammed continue to inspire a younger generation of women and girls.
The symposium was also attended by Ms. Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi, Special Envoy on Gender and Vice President of the African Development Bank, Hon. Dr. Gertrude Kitembo, Minister for Posts, telephones and Telecommunications of the Democratic Republic of Congo and Hon. Awut Deng Acuil, Minister of Gender, Child and Social Welfare of the Republic of South Sudan.
Addressing the symposium, Amb Amina emphasised the need for expanding the choices for women, and especially increasing the number of women in leadership, remain one of the most pressing agenda of our time.
“We now know that the most important determinant of the competitiveness of countries and even companies is their human talent – that is, the skills and productivity of the workforce.”
She said harnessing the talents of women who comprise half of the world’s available talent pool, therefore, has a vast and direct bearing on how competitive a country or company may become.
“Our hope of transforming African economies, therefore, lies on how effectively we are able to harness women talents in all areas of human endeavour and especially in leadership.”
The 2015 Global Gender Gap Report captures the status of women empowerment more clearly.
While progress is uneven across countries and regions, the report indicates that globally the gender gap in education attainment stands at 95%, or 5% away from parity.
Health and survival is closest to parity, at 96% with 40 countries having closed this gap entirely.
The gender gap in accessing economic opportunities has closed by only 3%; while only 23% of the gender gap in political empowerment has been closed.
Africa has not faired particularly well, Amina said, adding that only 17 African countries were among the top 100 countries in closing gender gaps in education, health, economic opportunity and leadership.
Rwanda, the best performing in Africa, was number 6 in overall global ranking. Kenya was number 48. In terms of closing the gender gap in political empowerment or leadership, Kenya ranked number 62 while Rwanda was number 7.
“Stubborn inequalities therefore remain.”
As of August 2015, only 22 per cent of all national parliamentarians were female. Moreover, the number of women in the labour force only increased marginally from 1.5 billion in 2006 to 1.75 billion in 2015; meaning only an extra quarter billion women have entered the labour force in nine years.
The Gender Gap report estimates that it will take the world another 118 years – or until 2133 – to close the economic gender gap entirely.
She said engaging those in authority in pushing the agenda of women empowerment is an important first step towards improving the prospects for women.
“I am convinced that it will only take us 118 years to close the gender gap as suggested in the 2015 Gender Parity Report if, and only if, we continue doing business as usual – that is if we leave most of the work for women empowerment to women’s organizations, activists and others who are not in positions of authority.”
She urged women to bear the words of Maya Angelou in mind “If you are always trying to be normal you will never know how amazing you can be”.
She further quoted the words of H.E. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf [Liberian president]: “The size of your dreams must always exceed your current capacity to achieve them. If your dreams do not scare you, they are not big enough.”
Leaders, according to Amina, are not born but made through the process of socialization, education and training.
“We can train women leaders through exposure by identifying talented girls and women and giving them assignments that will build their confidence as well as skills in leadership.”