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    Monday, April 30, 2018

    Ditched the Stilettos for the gumboots: Stories of women on the opposite sides of development dialogues

    The afternoon scorching sun is not a hindrance to the bulging crowd that has come to see and listens to the young lady from the city who has promised to turn around their livelihood in the agricultural sector, which is the primary economic activity in Western Kenya, a rice-growing region tucked between high mountains and Lake Victoria.

    From the sitting arrangement, it's quite evident that the culture of this land does not allow women and men to sit together and share their views. It came to pass once we started the community meeting, it is the men who were the most vocal and constant nodding of the head was the response from the women. A peculiar revelation was knowing too well that it is the women who work tirelessly in the rice farms. Therefore, they should be allowed to give their input on whats best for their community.
    During the Q&A interaction section, I was keen to learn who owns the rice farms because it'll reveal who makes the most vital decisions like the type of crop to plant on the farms and how the revenue is used. From the discussion, I learned that the women should provide labor from early mornings to around midday so that they will have ample time to prepare meals for the children coming from school. While the role of the men is to decide how much the money will be spent they received from the farm. Do they self-regulate and ensure that the family is taken cared of? 

    Furthermore, I asked the women if they agree with such an arrangement and what have been the economic implications of such decisions in their homes. From their response, I got from the women on the side after the meeting has ended and the men are not within earshot made me to switch my role and participation in the development dialogue from just having board meetings and thinking we already know the answers to issues that are deemed subjects of concern to wearing the gumboots in the rice farms to experience what the women go through and help them voice their opinion most especially when it comes to how the revenues received from the farms should be spent.

    Unequal pay between men and women should not be an issue in the 21st century and by now we ought to have moved from such dialogues to a more constructive discussion on how to empower both genders so that they can achieve their full potential without being labeled based on what they should do and not do. The amount of money they should earn for the same kind of job and maybe with a higher skills set compared to men. Unequal pay between both genders should not be categorized in the same segment with the propaganda that happens in most boardrooms and social gatherings that women now want to be in the same level with the men. Asking for what is rightfully mine for a job well done and visible impact should be beside the gender battles about who is more powerful than the other.

    What is so tricky by just having equal pay for both sexes, it is the 21st century, remember? 

    By: Valerie Awino Opiyo, Kenya


    1. Valeria, the fact that women and men cannot be paid equally justifies the need why more advocacy needs to be invested in SDG5. This a good piece and satisfies the need for attention

      1. Such a shame I am seeing this today, I concur with your sensitiments, equal pay on both genders should form part of SGD dialugue


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