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Women Economic Forum- Reshaping the Kenyan Economy

CRAWN Trust initiated the ‘Women and the Economy’ series designed to be the ground zero for women’s economic emancipation, Connecting women to business and financial opportunities for growth and impact in the building skills as well as creating and building wealth for women form the bottom up, the series will be a game changer in women’s economic transformation. The ‘Women and the Economy’ series, will be contributing towards closing the gender gap and supporting women to enable them fund and grow their businesses to greater levels. The Inaugural Women Economic Forum 2021, themed Reshaping the Kenyan Economy through harnessing women’s potential was coordinated in Nairobi Kenya, virtually hosted to facilitate attendance from across the World, on the 24th – 25th February 2021.

The Forum was hosted by, Community Advocacy and Awareness (CRAWN) Trust, the permanent secretariat to the National Women’s Steering Committee – NWSC, a coalition platform that brings together individuals and organizations working for women’s political, social and economic emancipation. The conference which attracted both county based and National level engagements was anchored in the Women Voice and Leadership (WVL) program which aims to contribute to gender equality and the increased enjoyment of human rights by women and girls in Kenya. The project was funded by Global Affairs Canada, delivered in Kenya by CARE Canada, CARE Kenya, CRAWN Trust, Uraia Trust, CREAW and Urgent Action Fund-Africa. The deliberations cantered around four thematic areas namely; Agribusiness, MSME’S as potential engines of growth and women entrepreneurship, planning and budgeting for women economic inclusion, opportunities in technology and innovation, manufacturing and value chains, media: shaping the narrative, tax and policy regimes, financial access and skills development.

Speaking during the opening ceremony, CRAWN Trust’s Executive Director Daisy Amdany said that the forum drew attention to the importance of empowering women and girls in realizing their potential.

‘‘The forum wants to look at those women that are the backbone of the economy but are so invisible in the society. Those that operate in the micro and small enterprises. The economic empowerment of women is extremely important. When you’re economically empowered, it opens up a world of opportunities’’ she said.

With women making up over half of Kenya’s population, their subpar representation in the national economic sphere is less than acceptable. Furthermore, women own and run more than 50 percent of all the informal businesses in Kenya making them invaluable economic drivers.

Although there has been support for the empowerment of women which can be seen through different initiatives by the Government of Kenya both at National and County levels, there remain gaps making it difficult for women to participate effectively in the economic development of the Country. The Women and Economy conference shed light on these and other issues impacting women in Kenya’s economy and aimed to become a long-term change agent towards the realization of the true nation’s women socio-economic potential.

The Cabinet Administrative Secretary in the Ministry of Public Service and Gender Beatrice Elachi pointed out the need for women’s inclusion in the economic recovery programme in the midst of the Covid19 pandemic.

‘‘2020 was a very tough year weighed down by the effects of COVID-19. The pandemic closed most of SMEs, but thank God we are moving through to recovery. As the Government and the Ministry of Public Service and Gender it is our responsibility to ensure that women are part and parcel of rebuilding the economy.’’

CRAWN Trust Chairperson Miriam Cherogony, guaranteed the Organization’s participation in ensuring women are not left behind in co-creating the economic recovery strategy.

”As the government of Kenya works on the post COVID economic strategy, we at CRAWN Trust are also ready to make our contribution to ensure women of Kenya are not left behind in co-creating the economic recovery strategy.” she added…. ‘‘As an organization, we are grateful to make our continuation through the work we do which includes this great conference. We know that supporting a more inclusive role for women in economic growth contributes not only to strengthened livelihoods but also to the growth of the Nation’s GDP.’’

A research Commissioned by CRAWN Trust on women and the economy indicates that women especially those in the informal sector are continuously excluded in effective decision making and access to resources due to the informal nature of their engagements. Further, the entrenchment of gender inequality and women disempowerment can also be linked to broader institutional inefficiencies such as weak policy and institutional frameworks with not much attention being paid to practical gender needs. These are some of the issues that have contributed to the minimal achievements in the fight for gender equality and women empowerment.

The forum’s goal was driven by an urgent need for true gender equality in the national economic engine, where women are represented, included and availed as much opportunity as men. Where young women can have business and entrepreneurship aspirations and be able to pursue and achieve their business development goals without fear of any barriers, thereby being able to play a bigger role in their families, local communities, county and country. Achieving this ideal will mean a more sustainable economy with plenty of opportunity for all Kenyans.

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