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In the weeks following the announcement of the first COVID-19 case in Kenya on March 13, 2020, a considerable number of organizations were caught in tight spot- that of reducing employee salaries, sending them on unpaid leave or dismissing them from their duties all together. Employers had to make such decisions because of the prevailing economic circumstances. Those who were lucky stayed on, and they still hold jobs to date, one year down the line.

In September 2020, data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) showed that Kenya's unemployment rate doubled to 10.4 percent in the second quarter of the year compared to 5.2 percent in the first quarter, compounding the situation from bad to worse. Sadly, some businesses closed and have never reopened to date.

While high unemployment rate remains a major unresolved challenge, youth tend to be most affected. With the situation at hand, the key thing is for organisations to lead the way in supporting and empowering the youth.

According to the Commonwealth Youth Ministers, youth empowerment refers to creating and supporting enabling conditions under which the young people can act on their own and on their terms rather than the direction of others. Considered as a gateway to economic empowerment, it remains one of the strongest pillars for organizations to create sustainable businesses and an enabling environment for them to thrive. This can be done in the following ways:

1. Amplifying available opportunities

One of the ways to enable youth access the opportunities is to make sure that they are aware of the opportunities in the first place. This enables then to effectively tap into the available resources effectively.

For businesses, being able to communicate in detail on how to get such opportunities creates a more appealing environment to empower the youth. For instance, we at the Kenya Electricity Generating Company PLC (KenGen) advertise all opportunities in the media, social media platforms and our website.

With proper awareness about these existing opportunities, especially under government’s Access to Government Procurement Services (AGPO), the youth are able to access them. We are happy with the impact we have made so far, and continue to make. In 2018 and 2019, for instance, we awarded tenders worth Ksh 389 million and 459 million to youth respectively.

2. Conducting training and mentorship programmes on economic empowerment

There is no doubt that skills and knowledge are some of the most important assets in the times we are living in. Training and mentorship plays a critical role in enabling the youth to manage their financials well while enhancing their creativity in advancing their projects.

By businesses creating platforms through which youth can be trained or mentored on how to overcome the challenges and also develop winning solutions, they shall be better placed to drive economic empowerment. This way, they can create their own opportunities. Additionally, businesses need to conduct programs geared towards enhancing the transfer of skills from one generation to the other and also unlocking the potential of the youth. At KenGen, youth training and mentorship is one of our key focus areas in our efforts towards creating sustainable generations.

3. Enhancing collaborations on empowerment opportunities

Collaboration is one of the ways through which businesses can gather scarce resources and create more opportunities collectively. With businesses exploring more avenues for collaborating, as we do at KenGen with communities living near our power plants, our youth are continuously presented with opportunities to unlock their potential.

Coming at the backdrop of social-economic impacts occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic, this sets a good foundation towards attaining economic empowerment.

4. Including youth in decision making

Whenever youth are incorporated in decision-making, their leadership skills are enhanced, and their confidence levels boosted. This can also help in bringing out their critical thinking abilities while encouraging them not to practise favouritism and bias in the process allowing them to become solid leaders who are open-minded.


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On March 8, women across world commemorated the International Women’s Day (IWD). With a strong call to action dubbed “Choose to Challenge”, physical occasions and virtual forums were organised to celebrate women.

Nevertheless, the question as to how exactly more women choose to challenge and overcome the many barriers they face still lingers.

With data from the United Nations indicating that it may take more than 130 years to attain gender equality aspirations as envisioned, more effort is required to maintain the current strides and also go beyond, more so in the workplaces.

To achieve this, below are some of the ways through which more women can join the movement towards attaining a more equal world for all.

1. Establishing women empowerment initiatives

In today’s organisations, initiatives or programs to support women empowerment are increasingly becoming the norm, but this does not mean we stop here. More organisations need to have such programs and women encouraged join these programs to support each other and also learn more about gender equality and matters related to women empowerment.

A case in point is the Pink Energy Initiative which was established at the Kenya Electricity Generating Company PLC (KenGen) by the Managing Director & CEO, Mrs. Rebecca Miano.

Launched in November 2016, the initiative has gone a long way in creating change and enhancing the potential of women in the company. It is anchored on three pillars: Personal development and empowerment; creating a conducive work environment and creating gender awareness. It has enabled women at KenGen to make remarkable progress on professionalism, career growth, health and wellness, financial management, parenting and mentorship.

2. Strengthening sisterhood ties

There is a misconception that women rarely support each other. But the truth is, women can support each other and also work towards achieving gender equality while advancing empowerment. Women must embrace support for each, and turn the same into a norm.

While support may vary from one person to the other, the common support comes in the form of celebrating ones success, showing fellow women how to conduct tasks they are not good at, understanding each other and pushing each other to greater heights.

This creates an environment where women’s voices are heard and efforts towards reforms in both policies and rights supported.

3. Putting men at the centre of choosing to challenge

There is no doubt that in order for the world to achieve gender equality, men must be part of the agenda. In the past, we have seen movements such as He For She take the centre stage. This goes to demonstrate that men should be part of the initiatives by being the driving force in the quest towards reaching the gender equality aspirations.

This way, there will be no conflict of interest whereby it becomes like a fight between the two genders. In fact, with this approach, it becomes easier to create awareness and also implement policies in support of gender equity.

4. Be Ready to conquer higher limits

Ever heard of the phase “The time is now”. Indeed, there are no limits to the heights women should reach in the current world. Women can attain what they want to achieve by building confidence and daring to overcome barriers. As witnessed in many cases over the years, women tend to fear applying for jobs in higher positions. Some have settled for what is offered by avoiding roles considered to be dominated by the male gender.

According to data from Pew Research conducted in 2018, only 26 women were in CEO roles at Fortune 500 companies, making up 5.2% of the female population.

This trends calls for women to conquer new limits and pursue higher positions regardless of fear, tensions or threats. This way, women will be ready to take up challenging positions and careers while keeping in mind that there is no career that is set for certain gender.

5. Walk the talk

Data from the United Nations Sixty –fifth Commission on the status of Women in 2021 shows that despite women’s increased engagement in public life, achieving equality is far behind. It is worth noting that across many boards, women remain significantly underrepresented, in the process playing limited roles in decision making. Despite the challenges, it is important that women become pioneers of walking the talk on gender equality.

In order to close on the many gaps, action will have to speak louder than words.

Going forward, there is more needed beyond raising the hand and declaring that we women are choosing to challenge.

All in all, gender equality is a journey and not a destination. Our actions towards handling the matter will determine how the future will look like and this is where we should now focus on. By showing women how to challenge the barriers and conquer new limits, we shall be setting a record towards a more equal and sustainable society in the future.


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