by Njoroge Kaburo
NAIROBI, March 8 (Xinhua) -- UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Wednesday joined Kenyans as they commemorated the International Women's Day (IWD) in Nairobi where he stressed that chauvinism must be defeated all over the world for gender equality to succeed.
Guterres said the world is far from realizing the much talked about gender parity because many societies across the world are male dominated.
"Many societies have the tendency to hide family violence," he said during the celebrations, adding that it was much better to resolve conflicts with the involvement of women.
Guterres regretted that there was significant resistance for gender parity in many societies all over the world where initiatives towards gender equality face many obstacles.
"Everywhere we have a male dominated culture. We are still far from achieving gender equality all over the world," he told participants who included First Lady Margaret Kenyatta who delivered the keynote address from President Uhuru Kenyatta.
Guterres said many violations against women and girls were taking place in families where serious abuses were always put under cover.
He said many institutions including the government, parliament, corporates and schools are better off when they practice gender equality.
Speaking earlier during a joint news conference with Kenyatta, the UN chief said he had seen in his past capacity as High Commissioner for Refugees, the suffering of women in the most tragic circumstances that one can imagine.
"I have seen women being the great victims of poverty, of conflict, of violations of human rights in different parts of the world. The protection of women in these circumstances in absolutely essential but I believe that the only way to make that protection effective is to give full priority to the empowerment of women," he said.
He called on governments to give full priority to the full presence of women in government institutions, in political systems, in the business community, on the board of companies, in peace negotiations, in all aspects of society of today's world.
"We do believe with a full presence of women in our societies, development will be stronger, peace will be easier to maintain, human rights will also be better protected," Guterres said.
Analysts say the presence of the UN boss at the celebrations where he was recognized as a special guest symbolically underlined the pole position the global body places on women in the world.
President Kenyatta reaffirmed the government's zero-tolerance to any violence or discrimination against women and girls across the country.
He said the IWD was a special occasion the world over, to not only celebrate the gains made towards women empowerment, but to take stock of challenges and make renewed commitments toward gender parity.
He said no country can claim to be modern and progressive unless it recognizes the importance of gender equality.
"Let me underscore that gender empowerment is important to any society that considers itself modern and progressive. But equally and more fundamental is the need to ensure the protection of the rights of women and girls," said the president.
In a speech read on his behalf by the First Lady, the president said Kenya has made remarkable progress in implementing global, regional as well as national commitments on gender equality and empowerment of women.
He said Kenya's record on women is clearly elaborated in major continental frameworks like the Maputo Protocol which is the Bill of Rights for women in Africa, the AU solemn Declaration of Gender Equality in Africa and most recently Africa's Agenda 2063- a development framework that aims to achieve a continent that is integrated, peaceful, prosperous and people-centred.
Kenyatta said Kenya takes pride in the many achievements the country has made by investing in priority intervention that are of great benefit to its women.