First Ladies Champion Wadada wa Pawa Initiative at North Rift Summit

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The First Ladies  emphasized the critical need for women’s increased participation in leadership, decision-making, and matters of peace and security within the North Rift region

A section of the Noreb First Ladies led by Uasin Gishu First lady, H.E Salina Bii/NCCK

The  Noreb Counties First Ladies , led by  Turkana County First Lady, Lilian Ekamais; Elgeyo Marakwet, Fiona Rotich; and Uasin Gishu, Salina Bii, Monday united under the banner of the Wadada wa Pawa (“Women of Strength”) initiative.

This strategic program, spearheaded by the National Council of Churches of Kenya (NCCK) with the invaluable support of UN Women, aims to empower women and girls as pivotal agents of change in building a peaceful, inclusive, and prosperous Kenya.

A Collective Call for Women’s Leadership:

The First Ladies  emphasized the critical need for women’s increased participation in leadership, decision-making, and matters of peace and security within the North Rift region.

They highlighted the transformative impact that women’s involvement can have on shaping policies and practices that promote peace beyond the North Rift region , with a specific focus on empowering women in Samburu, Embu, Kisii, Uasin Gishu, Vihiga, and Bungoma counties.

H.E. Lilian Ekamais articulated, “Our collective strength lies in empowering women to shape policies and practices that promote peace. This initiative is a testament to our commitment to fostering positive change.”

H.E. Fiona Rotich added, “We recognize the profound impact that women can have on building peace in our communities. Through this initiative, we aim to amplify their voices and contributions.”

Beyond Pronouncements, Actionable Initiatives:

The gathering transcended mere rhetoric and served as a dynamic platform for knowledge exchange and collaboration. The NCCK North Rift showcased a diverse portfolio of successful initiatives, encompassing youth mentorship, leadership training, climate change resilience programs, and food security interventions.

Unanimous Endorsement for Measurable Progress:

Stakeholders unanimously endorsed a series of key initiatives to propel the Wadada wa Pawa vision forward:

  • Establishing a Gender Technical Committee: This crucial body, anchored under the NOREB bill, will provide strategic guidance and ensure comprehensive gender mainstreaming across all programs.

H.E. Salina Bii emphasized, “This collaborative effort is vital for lasting change. Establishing a Gender Technical Committee will guide us in ensuring gender mainstreaming across all our programs.”

  • Forming a Working Group on Gender: This collaborative platform will unite county representatives, development partners, and NGOs to collectively tackle challenges, share best practices, and advocate for gender equality and peace.

H.E. Fiona Rotich stated, “Through a Working Group on Gender, we can achieve more. This platform will facilitate collective action to tackle challenges and advocate for gender equality and peace.”

  • Convening a 3-Day Women’s Leadership Conference: This impactful event, bringing together 500-800 women leaders, will address critical issues like peace, security, and economic empowerment, fostering inspiration and knowledge exchange.

H.E. Lilian Ekamais shared, “The Women’s Leadership Conference will serve as a space for inspiration and knowledge exchange, addressing crucial issues like peace, security, and economic empowerment.”

  • Implementing an Annual Gender Survey: This data-driven approach will provide valuable insights to track progress, identify gaps, and inform future strategies, ensuring the NOREB Gender Initiative remains evidence-based and impactful.

H.E. Salina Bii commented, “An Annual Gender Survey will ensure our strategies are evidence-based, enabling us to track progress and identify areas that need attention.”

Empowering at the Grassroots: Building Capacity and Amplifying Voices:

Wadada wa Pawa goes beyond high-level pronouncements. Initiatives like:

  • Mapping Peace Actors: This comprehensive exercise identifies key players and potential allies for women’s involvement in peacebuilding efforts.
  • Sensitization on Alternative Justice: Equipping women leaders with the skills and knowledge to navigate and utilize conflict resolution mechanisms.
  • Strengthened Community Peace Structures: Integrating women and youth at all levels, ensuring their voices are heard and contributions valued in peacebuilding efforts.

Media Outreach and CSO Collaboration: Amplifying Voices and Transforming Systems:

Media engagement, training programs for women and young women, and collaboration with CSO networks are crucial for:

  • Raising awareness and amplifying women’s voices in peace and security discourses.
  • Equipping women with the necessary tools and confidence to actively participate in formal and informal peace processes.
  • Harnessing the collective power of civil society to advocate for lasting change and ensure gender equality is not just an aspiration, but a lived reality.

Building Bridges, Not Walls: A Regional Approach to Peace and Security:

The NOREB summit signifies a regional commitment to progress, fostering collaboration on:

  • Developing joint strategies for peacebuilding and climate change adaptation that transcend county boundaries and create a holistic approach to regional prosperity.
  • Empowering youth as early warning systems to identify and address potential conflicts proactively, promoting peace before it becomes a necessity.
  • Engaging male champions and religious leaders to address harmful gender norms and spread messages of peace and non-violence, drawing upon their respective influences and fostering a culture of inclusivity.

A Beacon of Hope for a Brighter Future:

The unwavering commitment of the First Ladies, alongside all stakeholders involved, marks a turning point in the North Rift region and beyond. It signifies a collective belief in a future where women are not just beneficiaries but architects of a more peaceful and equitable Kenya.

H.E. Salina Bii concluded, “This is Wadada wa Pawa – the strength of women rising, the power of collaboration, and the unwavering belief in a brighter tomorrow.”

Addressing security challenges, particularly those propelled by cattle rustling, is a critical aspect of fostering peace and stability in the North Rift region.

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