President Kenyatta Bans Single-use Plastics In Protected Areas

President Uhuru Kenyatta in Canada. [PHOTO/ COURTESY]

President Uhuru Kenyatta has today announced a ban on the use of single-use plastics in protected areas in the country.

The ban announced on World Environment Day covers national parks, forests and beaches, and will become effective on 5th June 2020The ban comes two years after Kenya banned the use, manufacture and sale of environmentally harmful plastics, polythene bags and packaging materials.

“As you are aware, Kenya is hosting to the global environment programme, and has remained a campaigner for a sustainable environment. In light of this commitment, two years ago we banned the use, manufacture and sale of environmentally harmful plastics, polythene bags and packaging materials,” the President said.

“Building on this, today we are announcing another ban on single use plastics in all our protected areas, including: National Parks, beaches, forests and conservation areas, effective 5th June, 2020,” he continued.

The President made the announcement when he addressed the plenary session of the ongoing Women Deliver 2019 Conference at the Vancouver Conference Centre in Canada.

He commended Canada for its leading role in the promotion of women rights through the Feminist International Assistance Foreign Policy saying the approach is changing the way the world views the place of women rights across the spectrum of issues in society.

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“If the world is to prosper, offer good value of life to its citizens, offer good leadership that responds to the aspiration of its population, it must draw from all its peoples, and not just depend on about half of its population,” he said.

Speaking on the measures his administration has taken to advance gender equality, President Uhuru listed several interventions among them free maternity and immunization programmes in which the government has committed over 400 million USD.

He also mentioned the 100 percent transition from primary to secondary school target and the provision of sanitary towels to over 4 million girls in primary and secondary schools as well as the policy on reservation of 30 percent of all government procurement opportunities to women, youth and the disabled.

“I have deliberately undertaken initiatives aimed at promoting gender equality and empowerment of women and girls, as set in our development blue print, Vision 2030, ” the President said.

To drive the gender equality agenda, the President said his administration established a department which not only tracks and reports progress of interventions but also implements programmes that promote the wellbeing of women and girls.

He said Kenya’s efforts are informed by the Sustainable Development Goals and Africa’s Agenda 2063 which recognize gender inequality as a challenge that has resulted in women facing disproportionate incidences of poverty, illiteracy and disease across Africa.

President Kenyatta noted that war and conflict were among the critical challenges threatening the realisation of the gender agenda in Africa.

“Conflicts and crisis situations compound all the challenges that we seek to address to achieve gender equality.  Of great concern is the growing “normalisation” of the targeting of women and girls for abuse during conflict,” the President said.

He thanked the  G7 countries for committing 3.8 billion US Dollars to the education of women and girls in conflict and post conflict situations in Africa as response to the Nairobi Call for Action.

The Call for Action are resolutions of a consultative forum convened by President Kenyatta in Nairobi following the Charlevoix G7 meeting and brought together government representatives from 18 conflict and post conflict countries to develop a common African position on the education of girls and women in conflict and post conflict situations.

The President presented the Nairobi Call for Action which outlines eleven (11) actions that must be undertaken by governments and stakeholders to ensure the education of girls and women in conflict situations.

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Among the action points is the generation of knowledge to guide interventions, conduct of advocacy for mainstreaming gender analysis throughout the conflict response cycle, equipping of teachers with skills and aptitude for offering psychosocial support, and recruitment and deployment of women mediators, to reinforce the gender approach in peace settlement processes.

Other proposals include adoption of community-based approaches to eradicate Gender Based Violence (GBV), promotion of unique educational interventions that address the needs of children with disabilities, and a Pan-African commitment to fully implement the African Union Continental Education Strategy for Africa (CESA 16-25) and the Gender Equality Strategy (GES).

Also on the list of actions is a call for the implementation of re-entry policies for teenage mothers and pregnant girls to continue with their education, the strengthening of Technical, Vocational and Education Training (TVET) institutions, and establishment of safe zones for school going children.

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The President said he was hopeful that the Nairobi Call for Action will inform concrete and deliberate efforts that will make a difference in the lives of women and girls in Africa and promised to present the resolutions to the African Union.

“As part of my commitment, I shall present the Nairobi Call for Action at the next African Union Ordinary Session for endorsement,” the President said.

The Head of State also promised that Kenya will take the outcomes of the Vancouver meeting to the world stage during the International Conference on Population and Development scheduled for between 12 and 15th November 2019. Kenya will co-host the conference with Denmark.

Present at the conference attended by thousands of world leaders were Cabinet Secretaries Monica Juma (Foreign Affairs) and her Public Service counterpart Prof Margaret Kobia.

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