In Nairobi people welcome SDGs


Life Continues to move on, no matter what happens, who dies, who is born, who becomes famous, who gets elected or who gets hurt. We find ourselves in the middle of all this, trapped, watching, participating, jubilating or just being there. Question begs, is it worth it to define these moments and attempts to make something of them…..Would it pay to strive to finish the last mile and make something of the situations, circumstances we find ourselves in, where they place us and how effectively they perpetuate themselves. The world’s nations from a development perspective have found themselves in a precarious situation, one that has necessitated  global action to confront certain realities. Realities so daunting that we can no longer afford to accept or revel in the status quo.

Status Quo….

The status quo is where according to ILO, UNFPA, UN Women and UNAIDS….half of young people living in the world’s developing nations are unemployed, 37million people across the globe are living with HIV/AIDS, the world’s adolescents continue to be the only population with 50% increased deaths from HIV when all the other populations have declined by 30%. According to UN Women 1 in 3 women and girls across the globe will experience violence, sexual, physical, psychological or verbal in their lifetime. The labour force participation between women and men experiences a disparity of more than 20% with the women participating holding lower positions and the picture becomes darker as we climb the corporate ladder. This is without talking of the gender pay gap, one that renders women not worthy of equal salaries with their male counterparts occupying the same positions in the workplace. This picture could get clearer once we speak of women who die from childbirth, children who die before their 5th birthday and girls whose chance at a better life is curtailed because they are married before their 18th birthday dooming them to the vicious cycle of poverty.

Retracing our steps….

The world first attempted to tackle the above defined challenges in 2000 with the Millenium development goals, 8 goals that set out to address gender equality, maternal and child  health and tackle poverty amongst other issues. The end to this has come with a few achievements, one of them being the reduced extreme poverty but not without the price of increased economic inequalities, considerable achievement with fighting Malaria, TB and HIV but not without placing burdens on other populations such as adolescents who are now defining new infection and death rates from the virus.

The Millenium development goals provided an opportunity to illuminate closely into development and confront these challenges in a much more intimate way. What became of the 15 year implementation is a clearer sense of what needs to be done and where, the realization that development initiatives should be comprehensive, target structural inadequacies, be inclusive of all actors and adopt an integrated approach to clearly illustrate the convergence between the social, environmental, political and economic pillars of society. That being said, the MDGs set a stage one which defined and shed light on global development in unprecedented ways.

In Kenya for example, According to the Millennium Development Goals Status Report for Kenya 2013 by the Ministry of Devolution and Planning, the proportion of people living below the poverty line increased from 43.4% in 1990 to 52.3% in 2000, however since then the rate has progressively reduced to about 45.2% in 2009. A recent analysis by the World Bank in 2012 estimated proportion of those living below the poverty line to be approximately 34.8%. What these aggregate figures do not provide are the gross inequalities manifested economically as we continue to eradicate extreme poverty. We have nearly achieved gender parity in primary school enrolment where we currently stand at 98% as of 2013 with literacy levels of 15-24year youth at 91.3 in 2009. These were small steps towards the right direction; we need big ambitious steps now!!

Opening the next chapter….

The MDGs were only to last 15 years and finally time is up, after we have with us the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SDGs have been lauded for being universal and global to emphasize the fact that all world nations are bound to them, they have been designed to respond to environmental, social, political and economic challenges facing the world. This means they are expected to be exhaustive. They embody a blueprint that should guide global development to the next level. Heads of state, leaders, kings and queens have signed and adopted the SDGs, this happened at the past United Nations General Assembly during the post 2015 summit held on 25th-27th and adoption was on the 25th

Having been involved with the inclusive and consultative process for the past 1 and half years, it is refreshing to see the seemingly committed manner in which global leaders have embraced the SDGs. The world cannot afford to continue breeding inequalities most importantly at the expense of young people, women, girls, indigenous, poor people and other marginalized populations. It is the opportunity for us to change the way of doing business and make right our wrongs.

We shall be watching and offer our expertise along the way during implementation where the rubber will meet the road. This is simply because at the core of the SDGs is a commitment by world leaders to Leave No One Behind!!


Catherine is a Mandela Fellow 2016, Women Deliver Young Leader and member of Youth RISE International working group. Catherine is a passionate young African feminist activist with over 7 years of experience in advancing gender equality, youth development and sexual and reproductive health and rights in the context of sustainable development through movement building, digital and social media, policy advocacy and capacity building for young women and adolescents girls. Catherine is currently Deputy Director at Dandelion Kenya, and sits on the SDGs Kenya Forum coordination committee. Catherine has engaged with various global and regional policy processes such as ICPD Beyond 2014 review, Beijing +20 and the post 2015 development agenda. She co-authored the article ‘Leave No One Behind; Will African Women be left behind in the post 2015 development agenda ,an article published on the East African Business Monthly in February 2015. Catherine launched the #SRHRDialogues, an online advocacy and awareness raising platform on SRHR and #YAFDialogues, an online platform anticipated to be a permanent mobilizing platforms borne out of an African feminist dialogue 2015 in Accra. Follow her on Twitter: @catherinenyamb1

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