Strathmore Business School hosted the Women Entrepreneurship Global Conference themed, ‘Integrating Women in Economic Development, Promoting Economic Empowerment through Knowledge Sharing Partnerships’ on the 3rd and 4th March 2016. The two-day conference was attended by women delegates from Kenya, Uganda, Nigeria, Tanzania, Malawi, India, and Ethiopia. The conference through a partnership by IPE Global, Knowledge Partnership Program (KPP), Kenya Association of Business Owners (KAWBO), UKaid (DFID) and Strathmore Business School, strategically showcased the successful models employed around women empowerment. The conference further envisaged to promote international cooperation by aligning gender issues with national policies to meet sustainable development Goals (SDG) 5, in achieving gender equality and empowering all women and girls. The conference was also graced by Ms. Zeinab Hussein PS Gender Affairs in the Ministry of Public Service, Youth and Gender Affairs.
H.E Ms. Suchitra Durai, the Indian High Commissioner to Kenya and Permanent Representative to UNEP and UN-HABITAT gave the keynote address, significantly noting that the experience of a country’s model to solve social problems being adopted in other contexts does not only communicate that social problems facing women are universal, but also that countries do have the influence to learn from one another, share and grow. “Self-help groups have been effective on both the economic and social empowerment front. India has made significant steps in absorbing self-help groups in the economic ecosystem, vividly seen through government legislation in making financial access to such groups possible and with much ease.” “Capacity building in developing countries is key, testimony to what we witness today through this conference; countries connecting through learning from one another, “she added.
Dr. George Njenga, Dean Strathmore Business School, addressed the enormous strides the Business School has made in making women empowerment poignant in its mission. “Women leadership in Strathmore Business School has grown a notch higher. Although we continue to experience immense success in women empowerment, we cannot afford to turn a blind eye towards the importance of empowering the boy child as well,” he said.He urged the participants to weigh the outcomes of empowerment interventions in order to successfully employ proper functioning strategies. “What is the outcome of women empowerment? 75% of the women in Kenya still use firewood and kerosene to cook for their families. We have to look into the impact we are drawing in empowering women. If we cannot make use of solutions available to better the lives of others, then our efforts are in futility.”
Mr. Sunil Mitra, team leader Knowledge Partnership Program (KPP) addressed the special reason for choosing to forge partnerships which leverage and showcase successful models that can be adopted by African countries. “India’s successful social practices can be absorbed by various countries. This is to enable legislation that will help adopt similar programs in various countries.”
“Women make up 50% of the work force. The reason why these women are not as resourceful lies upon the acknowledgement of relevant skill sets and the access to opportunities. We hope that the outcomes of forums such as this conference will accelerate the achievement of global sustainability goals in achieving gender equality and empowering women and girls to alleviate poverty, poor sanitation and access to education among other amenities,” he added
Professor Ruth Kiraka, Dean Graduate Studies Strathmore University, summarized the key take always from the conference, her highlights being that there is need to have integrated financial services which result in improved livelihoods and women can and are influencing legislation. “The wheels of policy may move slowly, but they move,” she concluded.
The conference gave prominence to the policy dimensions of economic empowerment, means of developing capacity and skills, market linkages, financial inclusion, and support services to facilitate women.