By Mapenzi Kitsao
Mombasa, November 4, 2023 -Despite the heavy rains and chilly weather, women from diverse backgrounds turned out in remarkable numbers to welcome the First Lady, Recheal Ruto, in Mombasa. The women gathered at the Mikindani Deliverance Church in Jomvu Constituency for an event graced by the Ministry of Gender, Culture, The Arts, and Heritage Cabinet Secretary Aisha Jumwa.
The gathering was organized by the Joyful Women Group, founded by the First Lady, focusing on empowering and bringing joy to women. Attendees had the unique opportunity to gain insights into various empowerment programs, including table banking and loan top-ups.
Amina Hassan, one of the attendees, shared her excitement about the event, stating, “I was thrilled to witness the presence of the First Lady and Aisha Jumwa together at this event. It demonstrates the government’s unwavering commitment to women’s empowerment. I eagerly look forward to discovering more about the available programs and how they can benefit women like me.”
Maryam Bulo, another participant, conveyed her expectations, saying, “I hope to gain knowledge about the government’s initiatives for women, particularly the financial support options. This presents an excellent opportunity to enhance our businesses and achieve financial independence.”
Cabinet Secretary Aisha Jumwa highlighted the government’s dedication to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals on Gender Equality and Women Empowerment (SDG 5). She announced the allocation of approximately one billion Kenyan shillings for empowering women in Mombasa and provided detailed information about the Women Enterprise Fund.
“The Women Enterprise Fund can be conveniently accessed by dialing *254# and offers loans of at least 50,000 Kenyan shillings with a repayment period of 3-12 months. I encourage all women to take full advantage of these government-founded projects to bolster their businesses,” emphasized Hon. Jumwa.
Jumwa also underscored the numerous opportunities available to women, youths, and individuals living with disabilities, stating, “There are more opportunities for women, youth, and PWDs within the government, and it is our collective responsibility to actively engage in these initiatives.”
The Cabinet Secretary announced the imminent launch of a sanitary pads distribution program for girls and a bursary scheme for mothers to return to school, commencing in January next year.
“As part of the program with the President, commencing next year, no girl will be deprived of sanitary pads when going back to school,” she stated. “The President’s office, through the Gender Department, will also introduce a bursary scheme for women over 18 years of age to facilitate their return to school.”
First Lady Recheal Ruto urged unity among women and encouraged active participation in empowerment sessions to enhance their lives. She emphasized, “I want to stress the importance of unity among us women in the Joyful Women Group. It is the only way we can achieve our desired successes.”
Mrs. Ruto also called upon women to serve as mentors for girls in the event of early pregnancies to prevent depression and isolation. She passionately expressed, “Let’s take responsibility as women to mentor our children in cases of early pregnancies. They still have a promising future ahead of them.”
The event left attendees inspired and motivated to engage actively in the government’s initiatives for women’s empowerment, marking a significant step forward in the pursuit of gender equality and the advancement of women in Kenya.