Launch of Women Empowerment and Entrepreneurship: role of innovation and technology in skill building

By Salome Asena and Diana Njenga

Economic empowerment of women makes them self-reliant and is one of the most effective strategies in combating poverty, creating decent jobs, enhancing social-economic growth, achieving gender equality and reducing gender-based violence. For these reasons, it is mainstreamed in the Kenya Vision and African Union 2063 aspiration. It is therefore not surprising that the Government of Kenya has laid in its strategy, elaborate effort and dedicated resources through private sector intermediaries and public sector platforms for enhancement of women economic empowerment.

USIU-Africa has crafted a program that coaches women to take advantage of the opportunities that are available in the private and public sectors to enhance their economic empowerment and contribute to the overall good of the society. On Wednesday, February 8, the School of Graduate Studies, Research and Extension officially launched the Women Economic and Empowerment and Entrepreneurship Certificate Program. The introduction of the program was preceded by a virtual webinar panel discussion on "Women Economic and Empowerment and Entrepreneurship: The Role of Innovation and Technology in Skill Building."

The panel discussion for the virtual webinar was facilitated by Ms. Salome Asena, Senior Research Officer, School of Graduate Studies, Research and Extension. The panelists were; Ms. Veyrl Adell - Chief Executive Officer and Founder, Signified Group and Kinda Africa; Ms. Racheal Ngumi - Principal Officer, Gender Equity and Social Protection at United States International University -Africa, Ms. Maureen Otieno - Gender Justice and Women’s Rights Strategist at Oxfam, Hon. Anne Gathigia - Former County Executive Committee Member Youth Sports, Gender and Social Services, Prof. Amos Njuguna – Dean School of Graduate Studies, Research and Extension at United States International University-Africa and Prof. Michael Kihara Associate Dean, School of Graduate Studies, Research and Extension at United States International University-Africa.

Women who are economically empowered become independent, which is one of the best ways to fight poverty, create decent jobs, boost social-economic progress, achieve gender equality, and lessen violence against women. In relation to this, Ms. Salome Asena moderated a panel through a virtual webinar on how innovation and technology has an impact on skill building.

Ms. Veryl Adell leads the Signified Group, a company that developed a product that facilitates efficient business growth. This is largely facilitated by modules that simplify work, such as payroll accounting and human resource management. Additionally, it would allow for the establishment of jobs for young people with record-keeping skills. Ms. Adell stated technology increases efficiency, employment, financial inclusion, and is highly recommended if women economic empowerment is realized.

Women's rights are human rights, according to Ms. Maureen Otieno, who addressed the relationship between economic empowerment for women and women's rights. She further added that Oxfam has programs that create an environment where women can achieve their goals by giving them the agency to break down social barriers and norms. The agency provides a platform for women to exercise and advance their rights, promoting gender justice and guaranteeing a connection between those rights and women's economic empowerment.

Regarding the link between policy and women's economic empowerment, Hon. Anne Gathigia (former County Executive Committee Member Youth Sports, Gender and Social Services, Nyandarua County) provided some insight. She said, "We have amazing policies, but putting them into practice and getting access are the challenges. The struggle of using a 4G network in rural areas limits the development of technology, making access the main barrier to the implementation of the various programs designed to empower women."

The relationship between women's economic empowerment and social inclusion was highlighted by Ms. Racheal Ngumi. She underlined the significance of women participating in the market's opportunities. Women's economic empowerment fosters a transformative forum for talking about access-related issues. This would promote equality and have an impact on how women can access programs for economic development and gender issues.

Prof Amos Njuguna, Dean School of Graduate Studies, Research and Extension officially launched the Women Economic Empowerment Program and shared on how the University targets through the program to increase gender awareness, increase self-esteem and facilitate change in our communities. Its distinctiveness is in its incorporation into the market, which will make it easier to get over barriers when establishing businesses through USIU- Africa's Innovation and Incubation center. This is anticipated to be accomplished through utilizing experiential learning to empower women with the skills required to cope with such scenarios. More precisely, the program aims to narrow the digital agenda gap by providing training on engaging technology for business analysis, marketing, and innovation while establishing links with stakeholders, financiers’ and regulators.

The virtual webinar proved successful and received positive review from the attendees as they look forward to the program's unveiling the week of Monday, February 13, 2023.

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