The First Lady Margaret Kenyatta has pledged to continue engaging in charity work through her Beyond Zero initiative beyond her term in office as the First Lady of the Republic of Kenya.
The First Lady said Beyond Zero will continue leveraging on its partnerships to address gender inequality, maternal health, and support for children with disability as well as other vulnerable groups.
“We must embrace ideas and innovation, learn from each other, apply local and sustainable solutions, so that we can continue to avert the risks our women, our youth, our marginalized, and our vulnerable face. And I truly look forward to serving that cause long after my race as First Lady is run,” she said.
At the same time, First Lady said tremendous progress had been made during her 10-year advocacy for the eradication of maternal deaths, stereotyping and social stigma of people living with HIV/AIDS and other forms of ill-health.
“Which is why, today I am here to assure you that I will continue to deliver on the promise I made 10 years ago. Because we recognise that there is a great deal of work to be done to support women, children and vulnerable communities.
“The journey is long and we are nowhere near its end. The world needs more heads, hands and hearts devoted to doing it,” she said.
The First Lady, who spoke on Thursday evening at State House, Nairobi, during a ceremony held to mark 10 years of Beyond Zero initiative and the recent establishment of the Margaret Kenyatta Institute for Gender and Social Development, said her charity work over the decade was defined by the desire to ensure that no Kenyan woman died while giving birth.
She thanked Beyond Zero partners, Kenyans and well-wishers from across the world for their steadfast support through the years, and rallied them to continue backing her efforts towards the achievement of greater social justice and equity for vulnerable communities.
“Re-commit, with me, to the cause of equality between men and women. Re-commit, with me, to the cause of ending deaths in child birth. Re-commit, with me, to making sure that every disabled child can live as independent and productive a life as they are capable,” she said.
She said Beyond Zero will continue advocacy for the eradication of obstetric fistula, elimination of cervical cancer and sustainability of the Linda Mama maternal health programme as well as the strengthening of the Universal Health Coverage (UHC) through its nursing scholarship fund.
The First Lady said she will continue being involved in the refurbishment of health centres across the country, support for children with disabilities, and ending of harmful cultural practices in her role as the patron of the Margaret Kenyatta Institute for Gender and Social Development.
“The Institute’s fundamental purpose—responding to the emergent importance of gender and social development—resonates with the inspiration of Beyond Zero’s work, as well as, with my own belief in accelerating our work for gender equality, and the removal of social barriers preventing women and girls in realizing their full potential. These are values and virtues grounded in the legacy of my work over the past 10 years,” she said.
Stressing that the country’s health sector had witnessed tremendous progress in the last 10 years, the First Lady regretted that the Covid-19 pandemic had interrupted the implementation of Beyond Zero programmes.
“Covid–19 stole two years of our work. Our destiny seemed to be steering a difficult path. What has kept me going, through this and other difficulties, is the remarkable spirit of resilience and boundless courage I have seen during my work. Time and again, I’ve seen Kenyans rise, stand together in solidarity, and solve some of the most difficult problems imaginable.
“That has inspired me more than I can say, and I, today, ask you to keep in mind that example, as we rededicate ourselves to overcoming the difficulties that remain,” she said.
Speaking at the event, Public Service CS Professor Margaret Kobia commended President Kenyatta for his frontline role in supporting First Lady Margaret Kenyatta’s charity work, citing the Head of State’s involvement in the marathons, anti-FGM mobilisation and International Women’s Day activities among other instances.
She said First Lady Margaret Kenyatta’s charity activities had given her ministry a valuable platform for attaining its mandate through promotion of equal opportunity, gender equality, equity and diversity.
She said Kenya’s gender gap had narrowed significantly in the 10-year tenure of President Kenyatta partly due to the First Lady’s Beyond Zero charity work, and cited the country’s winning of African Gender Award as a demonstration of the progress.
On his part, Health CS Mutahi Kagwe hailed First Lady Margaret Kenyatta for championing the Universal Health Coverage (UHC) pillar of President Kenyatta’s Big 4 Agenda development blueprint.
The Health CS further congratulated the First Lady for the creation of the Margaret Kenyatta Institute for Gender and Social Development saying the institution will immortalize the values and thinking that she had in Beyond Zero initiative.
Other speakers at the event, attended by several national leaders among them former First Lady Mama Ngina Kenyatta, Mrs Ida Odinga, Kisumu Governor Prof Anyang Nyong’o, and Maendeleo ya Wanawake Chairperson Rahab Mwikali Mwiu, were Chief of Staff in the Office of the First Lady Constance Gakonyo and National Aids Control Council CEO Ruth Masha among others.