NMG hosts International Women’s Day Gala Dinner

In commemoration of International Women’s Day (IWD), Nation Media Group (NMG) hosted a dazzling dinner Friday at the Windsor Hotel.

Hosted under the theme of “African Glam”, guests arrived adorned in vibrant traditional attire, each ensemble a testament to the diverse and rich tapestry of Africa’s heritage.

Within, the ambiance was filled with excitement and anticipation as attendees gathered to commemorate the contributions of women to society and affirm their commitment to gender equality.

Recognising the influential role of women leaders in various industries, First Lady Rachel Ruto shared her own journey spanning 25 years and impacting over 200,000 households.

Mrs Ruto, who joined the event through a video call, highlighted the importance of celebrating women’s achievements and the valuable lessons learned from their personal stories of empowerme

Against the backdrop of the lush Windsor Hotel gardens, the evening commenced with a warm address by Nation Media Group’s CEO Stephen Gitagama by emphasising the importance of recognizing and supporting women’s empowerment initiatives.

“Growing up, I experienced firsthand the challenges that women go through from an early age – discrimination in role allocation, deprioritizing of their education especially my generation and so much more.

“As a media house, we are a critical ally for the fight for gender equality and inclusion in the country and must use our platforms to shape public discourse and challenge entrenched stereotypes,’’ Mr Gitagama stated.

He went on to emphasise the media’s role in serving as a watchdog, holding institutions and individuals accountable for their actions and policies that perpetuate gender inequality.

“In 2019, we set up the first ever Gender Desk in Africa. Through the desk, headed by Dorcas Muga – Odumbe, the Group has trained and sensitised its journalists on gender bias in the news gathering processes and therefore elevated the voices of women in news coverage in East Africa.

“This capacity building is a continuous activity to ensure we capture women and the issues that matter to them, in their most authentic form.As we do this and more, I am aware that it will take a village to truly achieve inclusivity. Each of us must play our rightful role to invest in women and only collectively can we truly make progress,’’ Mr Gitagama said.

This year’s IWD theme, “Invest in Women: Accelerate Progress,” resonated throughout the event, with panellists using it as a rallying cry for greater investment in women’s education, health, and economic opportunities.

Council of Governors chairperson Anne Waiguru reflected on her transition from government to the private sector and back to politics.

Despite facing challenges, the two-term Kirinyaga governor and former Devolution minister pioneered the automation of the government’s financial system within a short timeframe.

“We gather today to reflect on the ongoing journey towards gender equality and to renew our commitment to diversity and inclusion.

“It’s a sobering reminder that despite progress, significant challenges persist, including gender-based violence and unequal pay. Gender parity remains a distant goal, with estimates suggesting it could take a century to achieve, according to the World Economic Forum,’’ Ms Waiguru stated.

In response to this daunting reality, the Kirinyaga Governor reiterated how the seven women governors have come together to form the G7 initiative, whose objective is to empower and support women to assume leadership roles, particularly in political office, at both lower and higher levels.

“The current nomination process seems ineffective, as financial barriers and societal attitudes continue to hinder women’s participation in politics.

“However, we believe that by showcasing exemplary leadership, we can change voters’ perceptions and encourage greater support for women candidates.

“Governor Cecily Mbaire and Governor Gladys Wanga are commendable examples of female leaders who have made significant strides in their respective regions.By setting a high standard of performance, we aim to inspire upcoming women leaders and demonstrate that success is within their reach,’’ Ms Waiguru said.

The Kirinyaga governor also rejected the notion that women leaders are looking for tokenism and demanded recognition based on merit based on recent polls that indicate that women leaders are performing well, yet their representation in elected offices remains disproportionately low.

“With only 28 elected women MPs out of 290, we call on women to support and mentor each other, both in politics and in the private sector. In addition to political representation, we recognize the importance of gender diversity in other sectors, such as healthcare and the private sector.

“While progress has been made in some areas, such as achieving gender parity in leadership at institutions like NCBA, we acknowledge the need for legislative reforms to address systemic inequalities,’’ Ms Waiguru said.

Rizwana Peerbhoy, General Manager of Lions SightFirst Eye Hospital, shared her experience as a woman in a male-dominated field. With a degree in Computer Science, she recalled being part of the small percentage of women in her class.

She therefore advocated for the creation of policies and processes to promote gender equality in Science, Technology and Mathematics courses (STEM).

In the same vein, Gwen Kinisu, CEO and Managing Director of Prudential Kenya, emphasised the importance of women self-investment and personal growth. She encouraged women to prioritise their own development, noting that self-inspiration is essential for inspiring others.

Women were also reminded that men also experience imposter syndrome as much as women. Njeri Njomo, CEO of Jubilee Health Insurance Limited, candidly opened up about her experience with imposter syndrome.

Despite facing intimidation from colleagues with prestigious degrees, Ms Njomo remained focused on delivering results and proving her worth in her role.

As the night drew to a close, guests departed from the event, their hearts and minds filled with a renewed sense of purpose and determination to champion the rights and empowerment of women.

The evening’s celebration of African glamour served as a powerful reminder of the diverse and resilient spirit of women across the continent.

The International Women’s Day Dinner stood as a beacon of hope and inspiration in the ongoing journey towards gender equality.

Written By: Agatha Gichana