Idah Knowles is a Kenyatta University undergraduate who is a gender equality advocate and activist. She works with a Mzalendo Trust, a parliamentary monitoring organization in Kenya. She has received many recognitions and awards for her interest and strong demonstration in advancing women’s rights and gender equality. In June 2020, she served as the Special Rapporteur for the Eight Virtual youth Consultation series on Covid-19 convened by the African Union Office of the Youth Envoy. Idah is also the founder of ‘Women Agenda’, a youth-led initiative elevating women’s voices for a gender-equal world and stimulating generational solidarity through policy advocacy and partnership with other women rights organizations, civil society groups and women political caucuses in Kenya.
Idah, can you share with us about your work in advancing gender equality and women’s empowerment in Kenya?
I am an Associate International Women Empowerment Programme Fellow at Hear My Voice-Women’s network. I work with Mzalendo Trust, a parliamentary monitoring organization in Kenya. I am a technical committee member at the Civil Society Parliamentary Network (CSPEN), a network of over twenty-five (25) non-state actors in Kenya with programmatic interest in Parliament.
Through working with women rights organizations, I’ve become a member of the Women Deliver Gender Sector Working Group Taskforce, collectively running the #DeliverForGood Campaign-A campaign that seeks to catalyze concrete actions advancing gender equality at the national level through evidence-based and coalition-driven advocacy in collaboration with other national women rights organizations-Civil Society Organizations and Gender focused Government bodies.
In 2019, I served as a Facilitator, Special Rapporteur, and Volunteer for many Grants/Donors projects in concert with the Federation of Women Lawyers-FIDA Kenya. In the same year, I was also awarded by the International Organization for the women empowerment charity activities that took place from 8th to 18th November 2019 at Pampanga, Sapang Uwak, in the Philippines to help bring support for sustainable livelihoods to the women and children of the AETAS, the indigenous people of the Philippines.
I am also the founder of the ‘Women Agenda’, a youth-led initiative that elevates women’s voice for the implementation of gender-responsive laws and policies and stimulation of generational solidarity while working in partnership and collaboration with the civil society groups, women rights organizations, and women political leaders in Kenya.
What are the primary areas of work of ‘Women Agenda’?
Women Agenda is a ‘Generation Equality’ supportive initiative coming in to influence and drive the UN Women-Generation Equality. Women Agenda boldly advocates for gender equality by elevating women’s/girls’ voices for the implementation of gender-responsive laws & stimulation of generational solidarity through partnership and collaboration. Our mission is to advocate and safeguard sound policies and enforceable legislation for the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls at all levels. We have worked and continue to address thematic areas like Women and Politics Agenda, Women’s Economic Rights Agenda, Women’s Reproductive Rights Agenda through Advocacy, and Policy Influencing.
Some of the activities we’ve done in partnership with like-minded organizations are:
1.Supporting the young girls in sports
2. Participating in a charity activity in the Philippines to help support the women and children of the Aetas, the indigenous people of the Philippines.
3. Participating in a Reproductive Health Rights Sensitization forums in collaboration with FIDA-Kenya, a premier women rights organization.
4. Participating in youth policy and democracy dialogue platforms
5. Participating in Women and political leadership dialogue platforms
6. Forging partnerships and working with the Civil Society groups to address gender issues.
What motivated you to found ‘Women Agenda’?
I saw the need to contribute and fight for a more gender-equal world due to the discrimination and lived realities of intersectionality in almost all aspects of life in Kenya and the world as a whole. For a gender-equal world, I believe it’s possible, for it is a world we imagine and can only be achieved through partnership, conviction, and dedication from us all. That’s why Women’s agenda works through partnership with like-minded individuals, civil society groups-women rights organizations to influence change.
As a women’s rights advocate, what do you consider as the biggest barrier to progress gender equality and women’s rights in Nairobi?
In Nairobi and Kenya as a whole, often gender equality obstacles are a result of discriminatory laws, practices, attitudes and gender stereotypes, low levels of education, lack of access to health care, and the disproportionate effects of poverty on women especially those in slums and rural areas.
With Women Agenda advocacy and policy influencing, more women can now claim their socio-economic and political rights, they are informed, empowered, and have joined the generation equality movement.
What would you advise the younger generation for creating a more equal and sustainable world?
The youth must realize that gender equality cannot wait. Now is the time for action-Action that will translate gender equality commitments into tangible results. Young people must realize that they are the key to collective success, key to a more gender-equal world.