AMWIK ‘s Precious Gift to Kisumu Women MCAs

Women On the Move Profile Launched by Kisumu County Govenor H.E Jack Ranguma. The book Profiles Women in the Kisumu County Assembly
Women On the Move Profile Launched by Kisumu County Govenor H.E Jack Ranguma. The book Profiles Women in the Kisumu County Assembly

There’s no doubt female Members of County Assembly (MCAs) of Kisumu, 2013-2017, have achieved such great feat, to be considered celebrities and huge role models in Kenya’s politics.

The 19 female MCAs, among them seven elected members have earned their place to stardom by becoming the first to be profiled in the Kenya’s civic history, courtesy of AMWIK and partners in the Buidling and Amplifying Women’s Voices in Political and Economic Development project who include the Federation of Women Lawyers in Kenya and Diakonia Kenya.

 

The women MCAs include elected members, Pamela Apondi Omino, Priscah Auma Misachi, Petronilla Apondi, Benter Akinyi Ogolla, Caroline Awino Owen, Nereah

Akoth Okombo and Marlin Akinyi Atieno while nominated ones are Caroline Awuor Agwanda, Carolyne Awuor Ogot, Eunice Miruka, Faridah Ahmed Salim, Jane Atieno Omolo, Lydia Achieng Odhiambo, Lydia Atieno Ndege, Nelly Beldinah Osok, Pamela Akinyi Adhiambo, Pamela Awuor Oyoo, Salome Kamonya Lungafa and Susan Adhiambo Omollo.

 

Hall of Fame

Kisumu has also become a hall of fame, being the first County to register such a milestone, in addition to its unmatched reputation of producing the highest number of elected female MCAs in Kenya under the 2010 Constitution.

Read the stories of these inspiring women in Women on the Move: Women Members of County Assembly of Kisumu 2013-2017, a book published by the Association of Media Women in Kenya (AMWIK), with support from Diakonia-Sweden and the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

The book was launched by H.E. Governor Jack Ranguma of Kisumu County at a colourful luncheon held at the Tom Mboya Labour College, also attended by his deputy H.E. Ruth Odinga, County Health Executive Dr. Elizabeth Ominde, Diakonia Kenya and FIDA teams, representatives of non-governmental organisations, MCAs, the business community and women and minority groups.

Support for Women MCAs

Governor Jack Ranguma thanked AMWIK and her supporters for the their efforts towards publication of the book and assured the women MCAs of his government’s support.

Recognising women leaders for their consistency and forthrightness, Governor Ranguma noted that their efforts had enabled Kisumu county assembly to achieve stability.

In her address, deputy governor Ruth Odinga noted that Kisumu had become a pivotal point for gender issues. She noted that Kisumu has the highest number of women in the assembly, including seven elected MCAs, having speaker and deputy who are women, a female deputy minority party leader, woman deputy chief whip, four out of ten members of the executive, a third representation of women in the county public service board and a woman deputy governor.

“Kisumu has set an example to show Kenya and whole world that the affirmative rule is necessary, with us being at the helm of having achieved a third representation both in the Assembly and executive.  This is a big feat that will change the political arena in the country. We therefore must seize the opportunity to work and justify why women should be elected to these positions, using Kisumu as the best example.

Ms. Odinga urged the MCAs to ensure that all laws formulated to improve the lives of women, youth and disabled in the county are implemented and further advised women to work towards empowering and supporting each.

County Health Executive, Dr. Elizabeth Ominde posed the question: “How do we view ourselves and our lives as women. If we have a negative view of ourselves, that determines how we act; we will act as victims and people who do not have anything to offer. If we view ourselves as empowered leaders who are partnering with our male colleagues in the community, we will create a transformed society.”

AMWIK’s advice

AMWIK Chairperson Pamela Mburia thanked the Governor for supporting women and further urged women leaders to strongly articulate issues in society to make their presence felt.

Recognizing Kisumu women leaders for setting a good example to be emulated in many generations to come, Pamela urged the women MCAs to share their experiences and success with other women in the country to ensure more access leadership.

Noting that AMWIK has trained many women in current and past parliaments on how to effectively deal with media, which has seen them excel in politics, Pamela called for increased collaborations among non-governmental organisations and media towards supporting women to leadership.

“Women need to think of how to move forward in the society. But, do not forget that media is part of your moving forward. Women need to work, not just for our image but also looking at the issues, because the people who elected us expect us to represent them and this will determine whether they bring us back. This (record) will also determine whether other women will get elected. You need to be the ones that set the bar.”

The chairperson said women cannot afford to have divisive politics when it comes to issues and stressed the need for women to have a common stand regardless of party issues.

“Women need to demonstrate that they too have what it takes and can make good leaders when given the opportunity. Women also need to work with media, but always be sure what we are talking about.  We must keep the standards high and lay ground for election of more women.”

Happy to be profiled

The women MCAs present expressed their gratitude to AMWIK for building their capacity and helping them to stand boldly before various audiences to articulate their issues.

The women said by documenting their journeys, AMWIK had enabled them to be visible in the society.

 KICAWOCA

The event gave the women MCAs a perfect opportunity to market their outfit, the  Kisumu County Assembly Women Caucus (KICAWOCA). Nominated MCA and KICAWOCA’s Coordinator, Hon. Faridah Ahmed Salim articulated the caucus’ vision of ensuring an empowered, gender sensitive and all-inclusive county assembly through ensuring good governance and mainstreaming of gender issues in all the assembly’s undertakings.

Hon. Salim urged Kisumu government to work with the team to ensure effective policies that are gender responsive, putting emphasis on gender responsive budgeting for the smooth operation of county affairs.

She requested the governor for an allocation of funds from the county kitty to boost activities of KICAWOCA.

 

Dr Fred Matiang’i speech during the AMWIK Conf., 28th April 2014

Republic of KenyaREPUBLIC OF KENYA 
MINISTRY OF INFORMATION, COMMUNICATIONS AND TECHNOLOGY
 
Speech by Dr. Fred Matiangi, PhD
Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Information, Communications and Technology
During the AMWIK Conference on ‘Digital Broadcasting Migration and Marginalized Communities’
28th April 2014
Venue: AACC/ Desmond Tutu Conference Center, on Waiyaki Way


The Chairperson of the Association of Media Women in Kenya (AMWIK), Mrs. Pamela Mburia,
Programme Officer, Advancing Public Service Media, Ford Foundation Office for Eastern Africa, Rosemary Okello,
The Representatives from the Communications Commission of Kenya,
Representatives from women and community groups from Marsabit, Kilifi and Tana River Counties,
Members of the Association of Media Women in Kenya,

 

Ladies and gentlemen.

Allow me to start by congratulating AMWIK and its partner, the Ford Foundation Eastern Africa Office, for putting together this platform, to discuss the opportunities and challenges of marginalized communities in the purview of digital broadcasting migration. I am informed that this forum aims not only to bring marginalized groups in the center of the global discussions of digital broadcasting migration, but also to collectively come up with effective strategies of streamlining access to information to marginalized groups in view of the global changes.

The new Constitution of Kenya, promulgated in August 2010, is a major positive development ensuring the free flow of information as it provides for several freedoms. Article 33 provides that every person has the right to freedom of expression, which includes freedom to seek, receive or impart information or ideas; freedom of artistic creativity; and academic freedom and freedom of scientific research; Article 34 guarantees the independence of electronic, print and all other types of media; while Article 35 gives every citizen the right of access to information held by the State or other persons and required for the exercise or protection of any right or fundamental freedom.

As we migrate from analogue to digital Television broadcasting, let me speak about the opportunities that will be available for women and other marginalized groups. First, the migration from analogue to digital broadcasting will provide more TV channels as one analogue channel will create about 20 digital ones. This, subsequently, means that we are going to need more content to fill up these increased channels and we would like to encourage women and other marginalised groups to place themselves in a position where they can develop content that tells their own stories using the now available TV channels.

Since local content is core to the strategy for migration to digital TV, I would like to urge AMWIK and similar organisations to put in place mechanisms that build the capacity of women and other marginalized communities to take charge of their own destiny by developing local content that can be aired on the digital platform.

I say this because today, most of our television screens are full of foreign content and it is important that with the advent of digital broadcasting with capability to offer tens of channels to viewers, there is a need for investment on creation of content that will address the needs of the marginalized members of our society.

Statistic show that some 74 percent of Kenyans have access to radio stations, most of them FM stations which as you know are owned by individuals and various organizations including the government (through KBC). Television is the second most popular medium, accessed by about 28 percent of the population and a sizeable number of people in Kenya read newspapers. Indications are that although slightly over 3 million Kenyans read a newspaper every day, many of these do not buy their own copies. One of the reasons why newspaper readership is low is the high cost of the daily papers.  Most people can hardly afford to buy a newspaper. Therefore, digital TV offers an opportunity for us to disseminate information to the marginalised in our country.

From today let us take a bold step towards enabling grassroots women, youth and communities to understand the impact of migration process. As we deliberate on this, let us remember that the process began with the Regional Radio Conference of 2006 in Geneva, Switzerland, where stakeholders across the world agreed to have their countries migrate from analogue to digital terrestrial TV broadcasting. Kenya, as a signatory to this process, has an obligation to ensure that the move from analogue to digital television is completed by 17th June 2015. That is why the government has not spared any effort to ensure that we comply with the worldwide analogue switch off deadline.

At the Ministry of ICT, it is our view that migration to digital TV broadcasting will reduce concentration and consolidation of media ownership in our country and increase pluralism and diversity in TV viewership. This is not to say there has not been growth in the media, only that we would like to see significant improvement in the quality of news (for example, investigative journalism and more serious research) in the media. We would also to see media houses with online presence to more innovative and not merely replicate what is offered in either their broadcast or print media platforms. In short, even though there are shifts in the diversity of the sources of news, and greater choices than before, the content remains largely the same as that available in traditional media.

Although the migration to digital TV has been beset by many challenges, the opportunities remain vast and we look forward to these challenges being resolved and opportunities seized so that we can move forward and migrate within the set deadline so that we can reap the benefits that digital TV brings.

Some of the advantages migration to digital TV include:

  • Free up some spectrum resources for cellular telephony expansion and for wireless broadband
  • Existing analogue technologies for TV transmission are likely to become obsolete with time
  • Delaying migration to digital TV would deprive Kenyan audiences of extra TV offerings for them to choose from and therefore curtail diversity and pluralism.

As the transition to digital TV happens, we are aware of the fact that there are groups of people who are marginalized in access to information. Marginalization in its many facets means that groups that are not economically empowered like women and youth may find themselves challenged by the purchasing power of information and communication technologies and equipment. Other marginalizing elements will include gender and unequal development. In Kenya, traditionally the Northern parts of Kenya have been marginalized in many ways than one, a factor that has had a spiral effect in many aspects of development, including information and communication.

Therefore, as we approach the deadline to the realization of the MDGs, it is imperative to note that access to quality information is key towards achieving all the eight MDGs. My Ministry will spare no efforts to ensure that these marginalized areas are able to receive digital TV signals with relevant content.

I am happy to inform you that my Ministry, through SIGNET and KBC, is putting in place plans to rollout digital broadcasting infrastructure in many of the marginalized counties. This will make it more cost effective for communities in these areas to establish broadcasting services which can ride on this infrastructure.

Closely linked to this is the need for AMWIK to also mentor young women to be able to produce content for those (new) digital channels. Skills development for young women is also the best place to start women empowerment. There is a collective responsibility to ensure that young women understand available careers in the ICT environment. In this vein AMWIK should encourage young girls and women to diversify and pursue careers in IT including broadcast engineering and content development.

I am aware that the ICT environment has barriers that promote gender discrimination, and we are doing everything possible through my Ministry to create an enabling environment where women and girls participate in the ICT industry on an equal basis with others, and harness the benefits that are brought about by ICTs. I wish to reiterate the government’s commitment in public private partnerships. To this end, I am open to further discussions with AMWIK on possible collaborations to mainstream and enhance the participation of women and girls in the ICT sector.

At a different level, we would like to encourage organizations such as AMWIK and other community organizations apply for channels on the digital platform so that they can provide the relevant content to their stakeholders. I am talking about encouraging women to own their own channels dedicated to issues that are important to women, that have always been neglected by the media. Only then can women own radio and TV stations and be in a position to set the national agenda.  I encourage AMWIK to advance its communication strategies and explore the opportunities in commercial community media stations (both radio and television).

Finally, I would like to commend the contribution made by the non-state actors in development. In this regard, I am happy to note that AMWIK and its partners have endeavored to provide information to traditionally marginalized groups through various channels. Of particular mention is the innovative use of radio listening clubs to provide information and education to women and community groups in marginalized areas. As the digital revolution sweeps across the globe, it will be imperative for AMWIK and its partners to strategically place themselves in a position that will harness the potential of digital technologies to grow, develop, and empower, not just AMWIK, but the marginalized groups as well.

With those remarks, I wish you fruitful deliberations.

COMMUNIQUE BETWEEN AMWIK AND THE REGIONAL NETWORK OF MEDIA WOMEN IN THE GREAT LAKES REGION

A COMMUNIQUE ISSUED AT THE END OF THE THREE DAY EXCHANGE VISIT BETWEEN THE ASSOCIATION OF  MEDIA WOMEN IN KENYA AND THE REGIONAL NETWORK OF MEDIA WOMEN IN THE GREAT LAKES REGION. 12-14TH MARCH 2014, NAIROBI, KENYA.


The Media Women Associations comprising, the Association of Media Women in Kenya (AMWIK), Association des Femmes Professionnelles de la Communication (AFPC), Association des Femmes Journalistes du Burundi (AFJO), Groupe des Journalistes pour la Paix (GJP), Union Congolaise des Femmes Journalistes (UCOFEM), Association Rwandaise des Femmes des Medias (ARFEM), in partnership with Search for Common Ground (SFCG), came together to exchange around barriers, opportunities and emerging issues in relation to women’s inclusion in the media.

We acknowledge the advances that the media industry has made across East Africa and the Great Lakes Region over the last 20 years. We note the expansion in media freedom and space in various countries in the region, which has seen diverse media outlets and institutions grow.

We also acknowledge key strides made by various media houses in the region to enhance the participation of women in media, increasing the percentage of women as reporters and editors in all of the countries participating in the exchange visit. We also note the mind shift that the media is gradually adopting to move away from reporting on women as victims of circumstances and sexual objects, and moving towards portraying women as key actors in socio, political and economic development.

However we note with concern that some common barriers have continued to hinder women from participation in the Kenyan and Great Lakes media as follows:-

  1. Representation of women within media houses
    • Editorial positions are still male dominated, and women journalists experience challenges in promotion and participation in managerial level. The few women in editorial positions are in features and magazines.
    • Cultural stereotypes continue to influence gender roles in the media, with women journalists assigned to duties and stories that reflect on traditional gender roles such as fashion, cookery, relationships, and other topics that relate to the traditional roles assigned to women.
  1. Poor retention and high turnover
    • Women journalists exit media institutions due to unfavorable working conditions such as male chauvinism, low salaries and unstable contracts, sexual harassment and inflexible working patterns that affect their family lives and responsibilities.
    • Young women who aspire to embrace the journalism career are discouraged by a lack of self-confidence and by negative stereotypes of women journalists within their communities.
  1. Media Digitization
    • Although the advent of digital technologies provide quality and efficient means of communication and opportunities for growth, women’s access to media  is reduced due to the charges that relate to the digitization process. The poverty index of women in our countries is significantly higher than men; hence women face challenges in accessing the services.
    • The exorbitant fees and costs in the acquisition of media space and signal deter women entrepreneurs and media women from benefiting from the new technologies.
    • Digitization presents an opportunity for media women associations to influence content development and packaging of programmes that can be consumed by women through the numerous signals.
  1. Low coverage of women by the media      
    • Media prioritization of news sources has a direct co-relation with the low coverage of women. Journalists are trained to cover the most ‘important people’ as a priority. The perception of important people in society is highly influenced by our cultural perceptions of community and political leaders who are often men. Therefore men remain the main sources of news in the region.
    • Because of cultural orientation, women do not view themselves as community spokespersons and as such, women remain shy in using and working with the media.
    • Lack of skills on the effective use of media makes women and their achievements invisible to the world.

We therefore call upon Women Media Associations in the region to:

  1. Engage in lobbying and advocacy with media institutions to ensure women are not disadvantaged in career progression.
  2. Challenge media institutions to respect the international and domestic laws that promote gender equality.
  3. Engage with the various media houses and institutions in their countries, to promote gender responsive reporting to promote change in cultural gender biases in our societies, including through a change in the perception of gender as an inclusive concept.
  4. To strengthen and initiate training programs that enhance knowledge and skills among women professionals in the media in order to enhance the chances of career development.
  5. Establish desks within Media Women Associations that provide information and support to address the violation of the rights of women journalists and in particular sexual harassment.
  6. Strengthen links and exchanges between women media professionals and young students and/or aspiring journalists to provide them with the necessary support and guidance.
  7. Engage with the relevant institutions in addressing the digitization process in order to cushion women from the adverse effects of the digitization process.
  8. Harness the power of the digitization process through active participation as entrepreneurs or content developers for the new technologies to promote the gender equality agenda.
  9. Strengthen the Regional Network of Media Women in the Great Lakes through increased joint activities and the expansion of the network to new media women associations’ members, including AMWIK.

Dated: 14 March 2014

AMWIK hosts intern from Finland

AMWIK is currently hosting Rosalía S. Morillo-Velarde, a student at the University of Oulu, Finland.

Born and lived in Spain, Rosalía is studying for a Masters of Arts (M.A.) in ‘Education and Globalization’ in Finland, and she began her two month internship at AMWIK on 9th June 2014, which ends in early August 2014.

Rosalía, who is specializing in developing educational systems and the quality of education, and leading educational/social change in the globalized world, will work towards helping AMWIK develop new partnerships and/or enrich the organizations projects in the educational sector.

She also holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Primary Education Teaching from the University of Murcia (Spain), where her interest in studying in Finland was awakened.

“So far I have completed my Minor studies in Multiculturalism, among other courses, where I have found my inspiration to want to provide my assistance in order to help promote women’s empowerment in Africa. This is the main reason why I decided to come to AMWIK as an intern for two months as part of my studies,” she notes.

Rosalía hopes her experience at AMWIK will be very fruitful for the rest of her studies and career. “In AMWIK I do feel like at home, being part of this fantastic group of professionals,” she adds.

Welcome to AMWIK, Rosalía!

Ramata ‘Silanga’ a health disaster for Sololo residents

By Benard Ogoi

 

A seasonal dam at the hill slopes of Sololo town, Moyale Constituency

A seasonal dam at the hill slopes of Sololo town, Moyale Constituency

Access to clean and safe water is one of the economic and social rights enshrined in Kenya’s 2010 Constitution. Without such, the ability to enjoy reasonable standards of sanitation as well as credible health standards becomes untenable. In essence, a population that struggles to access clean water is prone to unprecedented health problems, which then bears heavily on their economic might.

This has been the situation in Sololo town, Moyale Constituency where both domestic and wild animals compete with the residents for a share of the scarce water from Ramata Dam to quench their thirst after a long days search for pasture.

The dam popularly known as ‘Silanga’ therefore means more than just a dependable water point as residents associate it with unmatched cases of diarrhea and other water borne diseases.

A herder in Sololo location, Moyale Constituency

A herder in Sololo location, Moyale Constituency

 

Surprisingly, even women have defied the dangers of drinking or cooking using the water without treating, ignoring even the most basic water treatment process, boiling. Instead they argue that, “Boiled water has a bad odour which discourages us from taking it,” says Elizabeth, revealing the consequence of the contaminated water in her hands. “I was recently admitted in hospital for five days after I was diagnosed with stomachache,” she explains.

It is a situation that Fatuma Wario describes as most wanting especially for the women who have tolerated water borne diseases since independence. “We are always affected but we have no capacity to do anything,” she remarks.

Fatuma Wario of Borole women group explaining a point on the water scarcity

Fatuma Wario of Borole women group explaining a point on the water scarcity

Joseph Galgalo, a victim of the unhygienic water blames it all on their behavior. “Most of us take the water in raw form thus contributing to cases of diarrhea and typhoid in our families,” he explains, adding that they normally don’t boil the water despite firewood being in plenty in the area. “Sololo is hot and boiled water is difficult to cool in readiness for drinking,” remarks Hassan Halkano, another resident of the town.

According to Martha Jilo, Sololo women group chairlady, “We know the water is harmful but we have no choice. We have to use the water every day since it is the only hope for us.” Martha who once suffered from Typhoid declares, “It is difficult to boil water for over 10 people in the home,” adding, “…. so we just take it as it is despite the dangers.” Like most residents, she has no time to fetch enough firewood for boiling the water.

They are also skeptical about using water guard due to high costs and cultural beliefs. They have no choice but to continue taking it raw. “Most shops don’t even stock the product due to low demand by the residents,” remarks Halkano. He says poverty among locals has made shopkeepers in Sololo town not to stock water-guard in their shops. While concurring with him, Galgalo says the smell of chlorine is also unpleasant to most of them. But even disheartening is that some culturally believe that chlorine is itself unhealthy and therefore unacceptable, making water treatment untenable.

This scenario depicts lack of information on prudent and safe use of water for domestic consumption in the area that largely experiences dry spells.

To ensure environmental sustainability is achieved in line with goal number seven of the MDGs, the Constitution in Article 70 provides for redress mechanisms that would ensure access to a clean environment. This also includes the ability of communities to access clean water for domestic use. “People need relevant information on the importance of treating water before use,” says Galgalo.

The residents have urged the National and County governments to support them by drilling enough boreholes that can help them access clean and safe water for domestic consumption. “If a common tank can be built and water treated in it then it can be good for the community,” says Galgalo.

Media and Agenda Setting

Dr.JaneThuo

Nairobi, 28th February 12. The question of whose agenda the media should address, theirs or the people’s was raised as a pertinent issue during a media roundtable organized by Media focus on Africa at Alliance francaise, Nairobi.

Hosting Ms. Jane Thuo of the Association of Media Women in Kenya (AMWIK), Prof. Robert White of Hekima College, Mr. Andy Kagwa a senior editor at The Standard Group, Haron Mwangi of the Media Council of Kenya and Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission’s (IEBC) Director of voter education, Dr. Joel Mabonga, the forum was addressing the role of the Kenyan media in setting the agenda in the electoral process.

Ms. Thuo expressed her confidence in the media as an agenda setter; saying that Kenyans have in many research findings identified it as their most trusted institution. She was however quick to point out that sometimes what the people expect from the media is unrealistic. Following on the same, The Standard’s Andy Kagwa pointed out that people should never ignore the fact that media is also a business, “at the end of the day we have to stay in the market,” he said in regard to marketing strategies employed by the media.   While in agreement that the media is tool for change in society, Prof. White also warned that sometimes that role can be abused. “Vernacular radio stations especially, amplify the problems of the local people sometimes,” he said. Dr. Mabonga choose to focus on the laws that guide institutions and people during electioneering periods, urging media houses to educate Kenyans on the elections act.

Representing the official media watchdog in Kenya, Media Council, Mr. Mwangi urged the Media to invest more on issues rather than events. He also added that the Media Council was preparing a manual on elections and governance reporting, and would also be holding a journalists convention in May this year to follow up on the same.

Social Media could not escape a mention during the forum, “Where does social media come in?” a participant posed. Apart from driving some important agendas on the internet, social media was discussed as an alternative media that can be used to bring accountability to the mainstream.

Thinking Outside The Box

Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) as an alternative in gender mainstreaming, advocacy and lobbying.

By Umi Wabomba

At a conference way back in 2001, a Dr. Paul Ntungwe Ndue from University of Yaounde II in Cameroon made a presentation on State-Civil Society Relationships: Building Public-Private Partnerships. This was during the 23rd African Association for Public Administration and Management (AAPAM) Annual Roundtable Conference, in Abuja, Nigeria.

In his introduction, he emphasized the significant role of Civil Societies in public policy-making, development debates and service delivery. He concluded that the strength of civil society institutions is indicative of a robust democracy adding that to establish an effective public-private sector partnership requires a common development and consultative agenda. A key partner that he didn’t mention was the private sector.

Almost a decade later, the importance of Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) cannot be over stressed, and the gender mainstreaming debate will not be complete without looking at how these partnerships present an opportunity for a paradigm shift in the thinking of key players.

Kenya is on a tipping point with the passing of the new constitution. Women across all sectors including the civil society, private and public sectors see a great opportunity to take advantage of the provisions in the new constitution to mainstream gender in all spheres of society. There has been an assumption in the past that gender issues are a civil society-only affair and the approach has been confrontational and defensive with the state.

But the new thinking is that, what if this was seen as a partnership with all sectors being proactive by consulting and engaging each other way before key gender related decisions are made?  There was the recent debate after the public vetting of interested persons who successfully made it as Judges of the Supreme Court under the new constitution. But on the eve of their being sworn in, the Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA) Kenya chapter representatives went to court alleging that the affirmative action provision had not been taken into account with the debate degenerating into how does one interpret 2.5 representatives? Is it 2 or 3? And a bubble was burst of a great opportunity for Public Private Partnership. The debate on civil society and the role of NGO’s over the last decade has positioned polar, at times antagonistic relations between the state and civil society. Civil societies are now being challenged to get out of their comfort zone of narrow sectoral interests and get involved in broader developmental and governance issues.

The Private sector seems to have made some progress towards this direction. Elizabeth Kariuki, a Senior Programmes Executive at the Kenya Association of Women Business Owners (KAWBO) supports PPPs in gender mainstreaming. “Public Private dialogue is a force to counter policy-making by shouting, or by back-room deals involving a select few. It promotes good public and corporate governance. It sets an example of transparency and dynamism. It sheds light on the workings and performance of government institutions. It also improves the quality of the advice government receives from the private sector by diversifying sources and by promoting more evidence-based advocacy.

Public Private Dialogue is not a panacea; but it is an important ingredient in strong business enabling environments. Both the public and the private sector still need good information, good analysis, and a sustained commitment to implement change”. She says governments that listen to the private sector are more likely to promote sensible, workable reforms. Entrepreneurs who understand what government is trying to achieve are more likely to support these reforms. “To exploit the gains inherent in public private dialogue women organisations in public life, civil society organisations and the corporate world should have open lines of communication with the public sector and resort to dialogue as opposed to criticism in redressing policy issues,” Elizabeth advises.

Talking together is the best way for the public and the private sectors to set the right priorities, and to support common interests. Meeting on a regular basis builds trust and understanding between the sectors. Failure to communicate leads to failure to understand each other’s concerns, which in turn leads to distrust and non-cooperation. Non-cooperation leads to inefficiency and waste, which inhibits growth, investment and poverty reduction”, she adds.

The civil society and the private sector need to engage with the government as equal partners so as to benefit from the facilitating environment that the state provides. Institutions of civil society and private sector can play an important role in the deepening and consolidation of participative democracy ensuring public accountability and good governance. Conversely, an interest in a strong civil society and private sector on the part of the state can greatly enhance the legitimacy of state policy and programmes. The partnership should be established around consultation and co-ordination.

The modalities of an effective public-private sector partnership in development require a relationship of mutual trust between the state, the private sector and civil society institutions with the delicate balance of allowing freedom of association, autonomy and public critique among those same institutions on the other hand. Creative public-private partnerships must be established to meet the needs of effective service delivery to the most vulnerable in society. Sustainable development requires a consistent and integrated national development agenda.

FIDA Kenya, in its draft report, Gender Audit Study of the 10th Parliament, admits that in view of the current state of affairs, the principle of gender equality and development needs to continue being emphasized as a basic requirement for the equal enjoyment of rights and freedoms. In this regard, the Kenyan Government, through its 5 year Medium-Term Plan (MTP) 2008-2012 for implementing the Kenya Vision 2030, identified as a priority the introduction of gender mainstreaming into all Government policies, plans and programs to ensure that the needs and interests of women and other marginalized groups are addressed.

The report further indicates that the government came up with a directive that ensures not more than two thirds of all public positions are held by persons of the same gender. This will go a long way in ensuring that women will be represented in all decision making positions by at least 30 percent.

FIDA-Kenya, commits with support from the MDG 3 Fund, to implement a project to enhance the representation capacities for women to exercise their rights and responsibilities. This is to be done through advocacy on representation of women in all public spheres and by lobbying for the putting in place of policies that ensure affirmative action for women in public life. And this is a clear opportunity for a Public Private Partnership so that lobbying and advocacy can bear fruit as intended.

To paraphrase Dr. Ndue again, effective development requires sustainable public-private partnerships and constructive relations between state, private sector and civil society, premised on relations of trust, mutual benefit, public accountability, participation and legitimate representation. “The 1970s and early 1980s debates spun the ‘myth of the interventionist state’ in development and which gave way in the late 1980s and early to mid-1990s to the ‘myth of the market’, needs to super-seceded by a new myth, the ‘myth of state-market-civil society’, premised on a network of deeply embedded relations between the state, the private sector and civil society, in a cohesive attempt to kickstart economic growth and redistribution” he concludes.