Women Too Can Lead: Dialogue Forums on Inclusive and Participatory Governance

As part of the project“Building the Capacity of Communities in Burnt Forest for Gender Inclusive Civic Engagement and Participatory Governance” CEEC with the support of GIZ/CPS facilitated civic engagement dialogue forums between the 4thand 7thof October 2016. The forums were conducted in eight farms within Burnt Forest namely,Ndungulu, Barekeiywo, Kaplelach, Chuiyat, Kamuyu, Rukuini, Lingway and Kagongobringing together about 500 community members. 63 community leaders (men and women) trained by CEEC in July on inclusive and participatory governance facilitated the forums with the support of CEEC staff.

The dialogue forums were organized in such a way that men and women first met separately and then both groups came together for a joint engagement. Each group had guiding questions that sought to understand why women do not participate in governance, what they need in order to participate and how men can support them. The discussions generated healthy debate and joint solutions with women sharing challenges some of which are cultural beliefs, gender stereotypes, lack of confidence, burden of responsibilities, lack of financial resources and limited access to information. A deeper look at the challenges pointed to patriarchy which is supported by a deep rooted culture and manifested in gender stereotypes and discrimination. Both groups acknowledged the need for change and as evident from the sentiments of one male participant, “If my wife left, I would be lost in that house. If she can lead our home, I believe she can lead in the public domain” This is a view that was echoed by many other male participants in the eight farms.

The men pledged to support women by sharing information, educating their daughters, socializing their male and female children to respect each other, sharing domestic responsibilities thus freeing women to attend public forums, offering financial support, respecting women’s rights and acknowledging that women too can lead. The forums also provided space for discussions on how the choice of leaders had impacted the community especially when it comes to development. There was general consensus that good governance that leads to sustainable development and peaceful co-existence needs to be inclusive and participatory. The community was in agreement that such dialogue forums were critical as they prepare for the 2017 general election.
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