The overwhelming message dominating the mainstream media is that men and women should receive equal treatment, and should not be discriminated against due to their gender. This is equally the top priority of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which seeks to develop equality in law and in social situations like in democratic activities and securing equal pay for equal work.
President Obama in a bid to keep up with his big theme of supporting Kenyans to “choose the path to progress,” called upon the nation during his historic trip to Kenya as president to put to an end age-old practices that tend to enslave women and try to limit their potentials. He further advised them to ensure the promotion of Gender Equality so that women will contribute actively to the economy of the nation.
US President Barack concluded his Kenyan trip at a sports arena in Nairobi on Sunday with a powerful speech that focused particularly on unfavorable and detrimental traditions that prevent girls and women from attaining their potential. The speech touched on issues that have dogged Kenya in recent years. Leading the list was corruption, terrorism, women and girl empowerment, national unity and youth and development.
Obama strongly advised the country to completely drop female genital mutilation, an act that involves the removal of the female genitalia either entirely or partially. In Kenya, 27 percent of women and girls have gone through the practice, which has no medical benefit but rather comes with a large number of health risks, according to the World Health Organization. Even recently, the East African Centre for Law and Justice (EACLJ), one of UN’s international affiliates in Africa, assisted in rescuing two young girls between 10 to 14 years facing mutilation and a form of sex slavery as child brides in Samburu Kenya.
In Obama’s words:
Every country and every culture has traditions that are unique and help make that country what it is, but just because something is part of your past doesn’t make it right, it doesn’t mean it defines your future.
Oppression, as a tradition, is not worth defending:
He also urged the country to end child marriage, violence against women and to give girls the opportunity to pursue education. He finally reminded the country that empowering the advancement of women will only serve the nation well, as it will pave the way for women to become financially independent, contributing members of society.
Below are 4 Quotes of Obama that spoke up for women in Kenya.
“They are issues of right or wrong in any culture. But they are also issues of success and failure. Any nation that fails to educate its girls or employ its women and allow them to maximize their potential is doomed to fall behind the global economy.” — President Obama, via The Guardian
“You know, we’re in a sports center. Imagine if you have a team and you don’t let half of the team play. That’s stupid. That makes no sense. And the evidence shows that communities that give their daughters the same opportunities as their sons, they are more peaceful, they are more prosperous, they develop faster, they are more likely to succeed.” — President Obama, via BBC
“Around the world there is a tradition of oppressing women and treating them differently and not giving them the same opportunities, and husbands beating their wives, and children not being sent to school. Those are traditions. Treating women and girls as second-class citizens. Those are bad traditions. They need to change.”
— President Obama, via The Guardian
“There’s no excuse for sexual assault or domestic violence, there’s no reason that young girls should suffer genital mutilation, there’s no place in a civilized society for the early or forced marriage of children. These traditions may go back centuries; they have no place in the 21st century.”
— President Obama