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Know your power!!

I listened to a sermon delivered to about 800 high school girls on television. The title of the sermon was “Who is a virtuous woman?” Listeners were asked to send in text messages and to call in with their ideas of what being virtuous means. A young handsome preacher came on stage and elaborated on who a virtuous woman is. He summed up his sermon in one word: RISK - she takes Responsibility because she does not pity herself (Ruth was a widow in the Christian Bible) but she takes up the challenge facing her and takes BOLD ACTION. She takes Initiative – Ruth chose to follow her dead husband’s mother to a new place. So she is a trail blazer, a pioneer. She makes Sacrifices in order to benefit others by taking a stand on behalf of others. And lastly, she is Knowledgeable – Ruth had information about what was true. According to the preacher, Ruth was hungry and desirous to understand her domain and her power.

This sermon challenged the young women to be responsible, take initiative and be pioneers, stand with others, and to know their power – a beautiful message for high school girls – inspiring them to be whoever they choose to be in life. After all, equity and equality are the right of every woman and man in Kenya. The current political class in Kenya seems to think differently, as their actions show.

Fast forward to life outside school, which I believe each one of the high school girls will experience as they test what they learned at school. A woman steps out to run for a parliamentary seat in a constituency where no woman had run for that position since 1963 when Kenya attained independence. In the shelter of her mother’s kitchen as they sit around the fire, the high school girl Laila hears her mother say: “what is wrong with this woman? What is she looking for going after positions of men? Why does she want to fight with men?”

At the place of worship, Laila hears the man at the pulpit say: “Women should obey their husbands. If her husband wants her to stay at home, that is what she should do.” The government had the opportunity to make the new constitution a true tool of equity and equality in Kenya by nominating women for senior positions in the Judiciary. This did not happen. Laila wondered why in Kenya parents bothered to educate girls if at home, in government, at church and in the community women are treated like third class citizens, who have no voice.

Article 27 (8) of the new Constitution that Kenyan women fought hard to pass at the August 2010 referendum, guarantees women at least a third of all public appointments. Kenya is currently preparing a National Action Plan to implement UNSCR 1325, that requires governments to include women in decision making positions and involve them in peacebuilding processes in their nations.

The imbalance in leadership positions in government and other sectors in Kenya is very disturbing. The impunity with which positions of leadership are being given out to men in the face of the current constitution tells us there lacks a sense of understanding gender equity or equality by our leaders.

Kenyan women must rise up and take the responsibility for their liberation in Kenya because the men will not do it for them. They must take initiative in running for public office in order to close the leadership disparity gap. They have to be willing to sacrifice the fear that runs their lives in order to KNOW their power. Women of Kenya need to know that if they want to free themselves and the country from this position of playing second fiddle to men, they have to take the RISK and KNOW their power like Ruth, whose courage saved a whole nation.

This article is part of a writing assignment for Voices of Our Future, which is providing rigorous web 2.0 and new media training for 30 emerging women leaders. We are speaking out for social change from some of the most unheard regions of the world.

Comments

CoachMarcie's picture

Power is huge

Amani,

Thank you for sharing your vision with us. Fear is a huge part of your story and my hope is that Kenyan women feel your power and change the future.

Best,
CoachMarcie

Best,
Marcie

Amani K's picture

THANK YOU!!

Dear Coach Marcie,

Thank you so much for your comment. I just pray we are able to free ourselves from the fear of listening to our inner voice as women in my country. It is so sad to see what women bear for the sake of being like everyone else - it is SAD!! I want to be an agent of that shift from fear to owning our power!! so we can liberate our nation and continent.

AmaniK

Dr. Karambu Ringera
Founder and President, International Peace Initiatives
Vice President, Global Ecovillages Network (GEN) Africa
Advisory Board Member, Women Human Rights Institute, University of Toronto
Member and Delegate, Soroptimist Internationa

olutosin's picture

My Mind

I'd wanted to post the sermon of our church today but too busy with training for women. My Pastor said that people in Nigerian politics will go to heaven, therefore women who are not even supposed to be in position of authority according to he Bible should not go into politics. Our women agreed that women who are in postion of Authority will become too proud to mamnage a man, therefore we must follow God's injuction. I was the only one in church who felt that women should take up such positions in the society, I stood up and made my case clear.

A man said that women's liberation is nonsense sine no one has put us in bobdage...and as a Gender expert, I educated them from the time a parent desire a male child before conception, wished the female foetus would change to a male, and when she is delivered of the child, sh ewould have to perform FGM in order to contorl her sexuality and sensuality...this is just the begining og hte bondage.......

I felt so sad about the position of women in believing that a woman should be quiet and decided there tdhen, that I have another vision...GIRL POWER.........If everywoman believes that women must be totally submissive to go to heaven, what will they pass over to their chidlren?
I am afraid.....we must empower Nigerian Girls too, there is little or no difference between then; when our great Amazon began the total war on gender discrimination and Now.
Thank God there is a Pator in Kenya who thought othrewise. I cited teh example of a some siblings in Judges, in the Bible, who went to Moses that they wanted tehir father's inheriance and they were given, but my siste pastor said that good women must be at home, submissive and be teh tail of her husband, SHE SAID IFIi HAVE ANYTHING AGAINST THAT, I SHOUD WAIT AND CHALLENGE GOD WHEN I GET TO HEAVEN.
End of sermon yesterday.
Thank for this wonderful post.

Olutosin Oladosu Adebowale
Founder/Project Coordinator
Star of Hope Transformation Centre
512 Road
F Close
Festac Town
Lagos-Nigeria

https:

Amani K's picture

WOW...

Dear Olutosin,

Thank you for sharing your story. I am so happy that in every service where women are put down, there is at least one voice that recognizes that lie. We will continue to tell our story of overcoming and the will to free all people everywhere because patriarchy oppresses both men and women anywhere int he world.

And yes, i am so thankful for the men of the God who recognize that as long as women are not equal partners in social transformation, no transformation will happen anywhere in such communities.

Stand firm and keep raising your voice - the status quo is shifting!!

In partnership for change in Africa!!! as we recognize as women that "We are the hope we have been looking for!!!"

AmaniK

Dr. Karambu Ringera
Founder and President, International Peace Initiatives
Vice President, Global Ecovillages Network (GEN) Africa
Advisory Board Member, Women Human Rights Institute, University of Toronto
Member and Delegate, Soroptimist Internationa

warona's picture

Thank you and thank you Amani

Dearest friend Amani!

Its good to these great news! Yes this was a powerful sermon for high school girls.How on earth can we run away from our responsibilties, its women who takes initiatives, they are pioneers. In politics it has been women who embraced the occassions. They will always be there for men, so we want to break this legacy.Women are capable of anything. That imbalance in leadership positions in Kenyan government must be addressed.

Well the Bible encourages us to be submissive to our husbands. I totaly agree with the Bible because i have the belief that Eve came out of Adam 's rib, and out of that God made a woman , a friend to Adam . Not a toy for man, or somebody to be made fun of.God was pleased with what he saw.So a woman and a man must be friends.In our societies we are taught to respect our husband. The only thing we must do here is to respect, not like greedy men who will want their wives to suffer at their feet. A loving father/ husband is the one who takes his wife at heart.No beatings, or any such things of abuse shouldnt be mentioned among them.

I believe Amani you are the right candidate to take that initiative, as also you assound your voice to encourage your country fellow women so as to close the leadership disparity gap. This world needs women of Power and of a good couarage, women who can resist, as well stand and fill the gap.Yes Amai my sister this is great Kenyan women must follow their ambitions, indeed Kenya will be changed, behold things will take a new shape when they sarcrifice for risks.

This is great, so alarming and informative.You have taken me somewhere dear sister!

All the best

Warona

"success will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time " And when confronted conquer with love

AchiengNas's picture

Thank you

Dear Amani,

First your name means "strong" or "Powerful" in one of the languages here in Uganda. Women are powerful beings. It is because the creator God saw that man had a lot missing that he created a woman. A woman has double portion of everything that was missing in a man so we must keep our heads up. We are leaders, caretakers, mothers and comfort to the world.

Love,

Beatrice

I believe everybody has the potential to live a better life. Given the Opportunity, Education and Motivation ANYONE can become someone admirable. Nobody is a NOBODY, everybody is SOMEBODY.

Amani K's picture

You ARE so right!!!

Dear Beatrice,

Thank you so much for your kind comment and for sharing what my name means in your language!! Yes, we ARE leaders, and Mother, nurtures of the world - thank you!!! I am so grateful for strong women like you who recognize our power!! THANK YOU!!!

Love and Light,

AmaniK

Dr. Karambu Ringera
Founder and President, International Peace Initiatives
Vice President, Global Ecovillages Network (GEN) Africa
Advisory Board Member, Women Human Rights Institute, University of Toronto
Member and Delegate, Soroptimist Internationa

Jan K Askin's picture

Dear Amani, I was so touched

Dear Amani,

I was so touched by your lead. I had never heard the story of Ruth interpreted in such an empowering way for women. Then you pulled that story back in again at the end of your article so effectively. Your third VOF article is wonderful. I wish you the best in your future endeavors.

Your sister in the US,

Jan

Jan Askin

carolepng's picture

Equality and Equity

These two words we still confuse and mix up - I still get confused about its meaning.
Gender Equality and Gender Equity.

In Papua New Guinea, we also face the same problems, that our women's voices are not heard at the round table of decision making.
In the last elections, we finally got 3 women in to Parliament which was a MAJOR achievement for us.
There is still more they can do, to fully represent women and it also takes the rest of the women folk to fully support them.

There are alot of powerful, great women in the Bible - and Ruth is one of them :)

Thank you for your post and I hope that I get to meet up with you ;-)

-We all have a special purpose in life. It is up to us to pause for a while, identify it, grab on to it and follow through -

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