This was the message that was echoed across the two-day Conference on the Status of African Women.
In the 4th edition of the Conference during the annual research week, scholars and researchers took to the stage to challenge the narrative that has been set in Gender research,
The pace setter, Amb. Prof. Maria Nzomo challenged the participants of the conference on the definition of women economic empowerment, ‘Empowerment is not just about your carrying capacity. The time for lamenting is over; its time women find a common definition of the African woman to be studied, document the research and acknowledge the achievements that other women have made in the area of empowerment.”
She also offered shocking statistics that if Africa as a continent is completely marginalized in the context of knowledge creation, how about African women and how then can we make African women and their research visible?
The UoN Vice Chancellor, Prof. Stephen Kiama, in his remarks, agreed that, ‘Through research it has been established that the female gender, despite government interventions continues to face subjugation and systematic oppression.’
Prof. Kiama also challenged participants to understand and unpack the term empowerment because it is paramount to be on the same page as they delved into the conference, ‘empowerment is a very wide term and to each his own. However, it will be important to unpack the meaning, with the general idea of empowerment however as the inclusion of others who are often neglected in the decision-making process.’
Many speakers thereafter presented and made a clarion call on the matters that impede women economic empowerment and made recommendations on the government, policy makers and academia on implementation of proposals to be empowered.
The chair of the meeting, Dr. Marygorety Akinyi, also took the participants through the several aspects of women in matrimony and how it deters women from being in their peak performance in whatever sphere of life they are.
We also got to understand that to bring up women for the next generation who are equipped to be empowered we need to involve them and train them in STEM subjects and allow them to be equals in an industry dominated by the male.
We ushered in the second day of the event, women were encouraged by Lizzie Wanyoike on the importance of education: training your children to run your business , having succession plans and loving themselves enough to want more out of their lives.
‘How can we bridge the gap between theories and practice when engaging in women empowerment discourse?, asked Prof. Rose Odhiambo.
As we wrapped up the conference, several indicators of the women economic empowerment were put across mentioned for example power and agency indicators which includes women’s control over assets autonomy and self-efficacy.