NGEC Marks a Decade of Epic Highs and Unforgettable Lows
On August 30th 2021, the National Gender and Equality Commission marked 10 years since it was established in a grand hybrid ceremony attended by cabinet secretaries Professor Margaret Kobia and Eugene Wamalwa at the Kenya School of Government in Kabete and over 300 participants hosted on the Zoom platform.
The ceremony was a culmination of a weeklong series of events organized by the Commission to celebrate critical milestones over the last ten years that also saw champions of equality and inclusion awarded for their efforts. Before the main celebrations, the Commission had on August 25th 2021 hosted a tweet chat on its institutional handle @NGECKenya and managed to trend at number 6 for the better part of the morning under the hashtag #AskNGEC and #NGECat10.
During the chat, the Commission engaged the online community in animated conversation where the Chairperson, Commissioners and the Commission Secretary got an opportunity to interact and provide instant feedback to some of the questions. One user by the name Masambaya Fredrick thanked the Commission for the Twitter chat saying he looked forward to such forums in the future. “I hope that you will do this on a regular basis.. it has been a great conversation”. Said Fredrick. Another user by the name Kijana ya Nanyuki rallied netizens to engage the Commission and get answers to their questions. “Let's all take this chance and get all our questions answered today by @NGECKenya as we tackle this issue on gender equality and discrimination”. He posted.
Come the D-day on Monday 30th August, the Chairperson, Dr Joyce Mutinda led the Commission in celebrating the achievements recorded over the last 10 years. Dr. Mutinda began by paying tribute to her predecessors for laying the groundwork to what became the Commission as it is. “I start by recognizing the Commissioners of the predecessor National Commission on Gender and Development under the then Ministry of Gender, Sports, Culture and Social Services (MGSC&SS). To be precise, from 2004- 2007, Dr Jacinta Muteshi Strachan, who was the Chairperson, Commissioners Koki Muli, Prof. Winnie Mitulla, Prof. Jacqueline Oduol, Prof. Collette Suda, Commissioner Ateya and Tiyah Galgalo.
From 2007 to 2010 Dr Regina Mwatha, as the Chairperson, Bishop Jackson Kosgei, Agnes Ongadi, Tache Bonsa Gollo, Sara Nyamvula, Winnie Guchu, Joy Asia, the Late Dr Joyce Laboso, Naomy Wangai, Immaculate Wambugu and Lydia Gachoya . I also wish to recognize the pioneer Commissioners of the NGEC from 2011 -2017 led by Chairperson Winfred Lichuma EBS, Vice-Chair Simon Ndubai, Commissioner Dr Gumato Ukur Yatani (2012 – 2018) and Commissioner Dr Florence Wachira MBS (2013- 2019). We recognize the work you have done in grounding the Commission to its mandate”. Said Dr. Mutinda.
The Chairperson enumerated critical milestones that the Commission had recorded over the decade among them the review and issuance of memoranda to some 320 legal instruments. She said the Commission had been at the forefront in championing the legislation of the two-thirds gender rule as guaranteed in the Constitution of Kenya 2010 article 27 (8).
“The Commission has issued more than 300 advisories to government agencies including the County Governments (Executive, and the County Public Service Boards), ministries, departments and agencies including State Corporations on their annual performance in mainstreaming issues of disabilities, gender, youth in plans budgets, and interventions. In addition the Commission has completed more than 80 audits on topical issues including: the flares of marginalization among minority and indigenous communities and access to public transport in Nairobi for persons with limited mobility among others”.
Despite these achievements, Dr. Mutinda lamented that the Commission’s mandate had remained ambiguous to the elite but very clear among the Special Interest Groups-SIGs. This, she observed had invited an unhealthy debate around overlap of mandate between NGEC and sister Commissions or even with the Ministry responsible for Gender. Dr Mutinda noted that the demand for the Commission’s services is overwhelming while its reach is inadequate because of a thin spread-out in the country. “We would like to serve the SIGs at their locality and therefore in the last few years, we increased our investment in ICT”. She said.
The Chief Guest at the celebrations Cabinet Secretary for Public Service and Gender Professor Margaret Kobia lauded the Commission for its achievements and called for innovative strategies to bridge the gender gap.