On the rise: great strides as Kenyan women get recognised for top jobs

The recent appointments made by President Uhuru Kenyatta show that Kenyan women are now taking a front seat and recognized when it comes to being appointed to top jobs.

And as the saying goes, what a man can do, a woman can do better, it couldn’t lay any more emphasis on the need to accord women the support they need when it comes to rising through their ranks in their respective careers and positions in different fields.

President Kenyatta appointed vocal and celebrated Citizen TV’s Kiswahili news anchor Kanze Dena the Deputy State House Spokesperson and Deputy Head of the PSCU, a move that was celebrated by many people across the country.

Dena, 39, has been gracing our screens for many years now and had become a household name when it comes to anchoring news and emceeing different events.

She will lead the core communications teams covering digital, messaging, research, branding and relations with the press.

She has been asked to focus on the President’s brand positioning, media relations and messaging with respect to the delivery of the Big Four agenda.

A statement from State House noted that Dena is a seasoned anchor who was appointed as “part of diversifying the voices from the presidency and focusing the concept of messaging with a purpose”.

On the other hand, Munira Mohamed, 40, has been appointed as Deputy Head PSCU and Head of the Presidential Library.

“In addition to taking charge of all broadcast and media production, Mohamed will lead a team to design and develop the library; develop storylines and themes for both permanent and temporary public exhibitions; carry out research work and collect material relevant to the Presidential Library, Museum and Exhibition Centre,” the statement stated.

These two appointments have been received with a lot of accolades by many people who see it as a plus for women.

President Uhuru with Mr Esipisu and Ms Munira

Though some progress has been made towards gender equality in Kenya, a lot still needs to be done for women to be more recognized not only in the workplace but also in the political space.

It is still a major struggle for women to access leadership positions and occupy top positions in companies, something that has been largely brought about by socio-cultural settings that shape gender roles hence women continue to be under-represented.

The society has, for a long time, created demarcations in the job space by clearly defining jobs and employment for men and women. Jobs suitable for men were considered tasking, demanding and ‘masculine’. They also happened to pay substantially higher than the ‘feminine’ jobs that were less tasking and demanding, hence suitable for women. Gender occupational segregation brought about gender roles, stereotypes and socialisation that prepares men and women for gender-based jobs and consequently gender-based pay.

The Kenyan Constitution sought to give greater representation to women through the two-thirds gender rule.

Article 27 goes further to obligate the government to develop and pass policies and laws, including affirmative action programmes, to address discrimination that women have faced in the past.

Eight years later, Kenyan women are yet to fully enjoy the benefits of the 2010 Constitution. Any gains made are being lost every day with spaces occupied by women being taken over by men.

The top leadership of Parliament, for instance, is composed of men only — unlike the last House, where both the deputy speaker and deputy majority leader were women.

The same is reflected in the workplace where you find that there are more men than women more so in leadership positions. Ladies generally have to work twice as hard to be considered half as good as men. Despite these challenges, there are quite a number of ladies who have managed to overcome various barriers and have succeeded in their professions.

The world economic forum revealed in 2015 that a woman will be paid KES 62 for every KES 100 a man is paid for the same job. In 2017, the same forum predicted that it would take 100 years to close the gender gap. This means that women in the workplace have to wait another century to be paid equally as their male counterparts who match their education and skills background.

To understand the gender gap, we have to look at the highest institutions in the country. Even with equality and representation firmly stated in the constitution, implementation is nowhere near ideal.

The two-thirds gender rule continues to meet silent rejection as parliament continues to stall implementation. You might wonder what political representation has got to do with the workplace. Truth is, with more women in key decision-making roles in the government, they are more likely to champion gender equality everywhere including the workplace.

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