Despite Kenyan and Sierra Leone women’s efforts to be recognized for having a portion of governance and leadership like men, over the years, there has been a persistent scarcity of women’s leadership and management capabilities for determining society’s political, economic, and social progress. Women have been disproportionately underrepresented in high positions in national and international institutions that make our laws. However, in the 21st century, humanitarian agencies and women have established various dynamic, innovative empowerment programs to empower themselves, which have resulted in significant success in influencing policy decisions. As the effects of the success of these programs have been visible, they have shaped women’s lives in governance and leadership. In the cases of Kenya and Sierra Leone, these programs have been adopted, taken shape, and yielded results.
In many United Nations (UN) conferences, there has been an emphasis on women’s empowerment in achieving sustainable development. The World Summit on Social Development’s (WSSD) Copenhagen Declaration is an example. The WSSD advocated for the realization that enables people, particularly women, to boost their inherent abilities. This advocation is a primary goal of growth. That empowerment necessitates people’s equal involvement in developing, executing, and assessing policies that affect societies’ sustainability and well-being. Another noteworthy example is the report of the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women. It termed its action plan the Agenda for Women’s Empowerment.
Both Kenya and Sierra Leone have implemented various policies to empower women in sustainable development and poverty reduction efforts. Gender equality and women’s empowerment are two of the top priorities for many developing countries, including Kenya and Sierra Leone, in their attempts to reduce gender inequality in the administration, thus achieving sustainable development. In other words, women’s empowerment and gender equality are to be acknowledged as critical components in combating poverty and generating long-term improvements in a community’s livelihoods.
The governments of Kenya and Sierra Leone have taken extraordinary steps to address gender issues, with the three primary indicators being reducing the gender gap that exists in the education sector at all levels; increasing women’s share of wage employment in the non-agricultural sector, and increasing the number of representative seats to be held by women in national legislatures.
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Development of empowerment programs for women
The men in power in post-colonial governments sought to strengthen the leadership of marginalized women as the economy grew. The economy would help finance modern education, revolutionizing people’s way of life via the establishment of democratic, social, and political institutions. Contrary to popular opinion, a high level of national income and the presence of a democratic political system do not invariably result in an equal number of women and men in government unless specific measures such as empowerment programs are implemented.
Affirmative action: lessons from Rwanda.
Rwanda is the first State to have a majority of women in its administration. Women hold 64% of Rwanda’s government seats, while men hold 36%. On record, women’s rights appear to be flourishing in Rwanda, serving as a model for other countries.
Rwanda was ranked sixth in the World Economic Forum’s 2016 Global Gender Gap Index. The World Economic Forum calculates the gender gap index by examining how far nations have narrowed the gender gap across various indicators. The Gender Gap Report focuses on health, education, the economy, and political equality. Rwanda appears to be far more equitable.
Kenya and Sierra Leone have a long way to go, with Kenya ranking 109 and Sierra Leone ranking 114 on the Global Gender Gap Index. In the Rwanda case study, this research demonstrates the differences in policy implementation and the links drawn between access, agenda making, and accountability concerning women’s leadership and governance challenges for effective participation in the political arena.
In this regard, it has become apparent that women’s participation in civil society has been crucial. The Rwandan example demonstrates that a reasonable constitutional road in which the government attempts to assure the driver of the progress of a gender empowerment plan on its own is possible. In contrast to Kenya, where it is clear that there is a problem with enforcing the Bill of Rights article mandating “not more than two-thirds of either gender,” Cases like this, where the constitution provides the idea but lacks a viable mechanism for implementing relevant legislation, necessitate vigilance on the part of women’s groups, who have campaigned for so long to include vital gender rights in the Bill of Rights.
The current Kenyan democratic transition provides a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to pay closer attention to the process and criteria for achieving gender equality through empowerment programs and build strong, mutually accountable constituencies and mechanisms for advancing well-defined legislative and policy agendas within and outside formal governance structures.
Sierra Leone could try to replicate Rwanda’s success. Both states have seen civil wars in the past. Women make up about 52% of the overall population of Sierra Leone but hold fewer than 20% of the elected seats. Their voice, visibility, involvement, and representation in selected and appointment posts remain low compared to men. Among these hurdles, the government should look into: the lack of economic independence; high illiteracy and ingrained practices and traditions; political violence and reprisals; and the absence of progressive legislation that protects and promotes women’s involvement.
Furthermore, unlike in Rwanda, where a single ruling party dominates political life, Kenyan women might use the country’s political party volatility (mergers, unstable coalitions, etc.) to negotiate important positions inside party leadership structures.