Dr Kituyi rebukes government for gender inequality as state continues to suppress fair trade policies

 

The Kenya government is hindering development by favouring cash crops mostly grown by men while ignoring those mostly grown by women, United Nation Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) Secretary General Dr Mukhisa Kituyi has said.

Men in power are seeking international trade deals that favour them, leaving women with a limited market with which to sell their products, Dr. Kituyi explained in a recent address.

Speaking during the East African regional women and trade programme as part of the ongoing UNCTAD 14 meeting in Nairobi, the Secretary General said the problem of careless trade liberalization is hurting women more than men since men are the ones who predominantly go out in search of trade deals.

“Traditionally, in Kenya, commercial crops are men’s crops whereas food crops are women’s crop,” said Dr Kituyi.

He said he was repulsed the government’s efforts, especially when seeking and negotiating in foreign markets where crops like coffee, tea, cotton and flowers (majorly farmed by men), leave kale and vegetables (mostly grown by women) to perish in local markets.

“The crops produced by Kenyan women are facing stiff competion from cheap imported food in order to reward crops exported by men,” he lamented.

He said the vice has been the greatest barrier hindering the country from empowering women who are crossing from subsistence agribusiness to commercial agribusiness.

Mukhisa highlighted graft as another major challenge facing women, where those who have started businesses are subjected to high taxes whereas those who have established themselves are not subjected to taxation, especially when trading across the borders.

He further requested women who are in a position to help others succeed in agribusiness to do so, stating that “empowering women is empowering the whole nation.”

The East African Business Council (EABC), a regional business lobby, has since called for an immediate conclusion to the ongoing East African Community (EAC) – European Union (EU) trade talks in a bid to finally implement policies that will address these concerns.

EABC Executive Director Lillian Awinja says the delay in signing the agreement is causing anxiety among the EAC business community.

“We are concerned that if the agreement is not reached before the October 1, 2016 deadline, Kenyan exports into the EU will begin to pay import duty,” Awinja said during a Financial Services Sector Forum that took place as part of the UNCTAD 14 event.

She said Kenyan goods are likely to be subjected to import duty in order to access the EU market while goods and services from the other EAC member states will still access the EU duty free because they are considered Least Developed Countries (LDCs) should an agreement not be reached.

 

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