By Joyce Nyaruai
Six years ago, I took part in a strategic plan meeting for a women’s organization that would inform their five year’s organizational agenda. Staff at this organization decided to first embark on collectively clarifying and generating a consensus on their mission statement. I had only joined the women’s movement a few months before and I was learning a lot on gender and development. A debate ensued on whether to include both women’s rights and human rights in the mission statement or whether to use one of them. The participant’s views were divided. Half of the participants were of the opinion that women were human beings and formed the human rights agenda hence using both would be a repetition. Therefore their argument was women’s rights are already human rights. The other half felt women’s rights tended to be secluded in the human rights agenda and would therefore be swallowed in any human rights discussion hence the need to separate the two so that women’s rights are given priority and the due attention it deserved. The participants arguing for the inclusion of both rights managed to convince their counterparts to have the two issues looked at separately. And as such, by the end of the rather heated discussion, it was unanimously agreed to have both women’s rights and human rights in the mission statement.