President Obama recently visited his father’s birthplace of Kenya and he made sure to address the country’s long-running issues with equal rights for women.

While addressing a massive crowd of nearly 4,500 during his speech at a well-known sports arena in Nairobi, President Obama did not hold back as he spoke out against the harmful and inhumane treatment of women that continues to negatively affect Kenya’s female population. Gender mutilation, sexual assault against women and lack of educational opportunities are three of the main problems plaguing the women of Kenya and are just a few of many examples of how they are not regarded as equals among the men.

President Obama in an old family photo with his father and relatives.

President Obama in an old family photo with his father and relatives.

According to The Guardian and statistics from the United Nations, nearly 31 million school-aged girls and 32 million pre-teen/teenaged girls were out of school in 2013. Additionally, over one in four young girls in Kenya is forced to undergo genital mutilation.

President Obama used the recent debate in America over the Confederate flag as an example of how some traditions are meant to be undone before shifting the focus specifically to equality for women.

“Every country and every culture has traditions that are unique and help make that country what it is, but just because something is part of your past doesn’t make it right; it doesn’t mean it defines your future.

Around the world there is a tradition of oppressing women and treating them differently and not giving them the same opportunities, and husbands beating their wives, and children not being sent to school. Those are traditions. Treating women and girls as second-class citizens. Those are bad traditions. They need to change.”

The President then directly addressed the women’s rights issues specific to Kenya, emphasizing the importance of realizing that not all cultural traditions should be accepted, continued or brought into the present simply because they are familiar.

“Treating women as second-class citizens is a bad tradition: it holds you back. There’s no excuse for sexual assault or domestic violence, there’s no reason that young girls should suffer genital mutilation, there’s no place in a civilized society for the early or forced marriage of children.

These traditions may go back centuries; they have no place in the 21st century.”

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  • There is no liberation on this Earth unless the women of Africa are liberated. So, women of Kenya and women globally should not only have equal rights, but human justice. People in Kenya have the right to fight for human rights. We have human rights issues in America with the epidemic of police brutality and the system of mass incarceration (where people are readily abused and mistreated in the prison industrial complex daily). Therefore, Kenyan women should have their human rights totally protected. Also, another point is to be made. We all know the point. The President didn’t come into Africa to talk about these issues alone. He came into Kenya as a means for him to promote U.S. hegemony in Africa, because the West is in competition with China for the resources of Africa. I read where China is involved in the the Lamu Port Southern Sudan-Ethiopia Transport Corridor (LAPSSET) project. This project relates to the construction of a railway and transportation corridor aimed at linking up Nairobi with Uganda, Burundi, Rwanda and South Sudan, as part of comprehensive plans for Chinese-led commercial development in the region.

    The West doesn’t like this. Also, the White House is promoting the pivot of Asia agenda. This is where the West is funding Vietnam, Japan, and other SE Asian nations with military troops and other resources, so China is encircled geopolitically. So, by the year 2025, we will see what will happen between China and America. The most important part is that we wish for Africa to be free and independent. We want those of Kenya, Somalia, and Ethiopia to be free and not be bounded under neo-colonial designs. We want Africa to reach its highest potential. No woman should be treated as second class citizens. Misogyny is evil and we want African women to be liberated.

    • elle D.

      Excellent commentary and analysis as always–and yes it seems that the TPP trade agreement (much to the chagrin of the vast majority of US) is also of big importance to President Obama because– of China in particular– and they are largely becoming the world’s major player. It is definitely interesting (and not in a good way) to see how this will play out in the near future).

    • Exactly Sister. You have shown excellent commentaries as well. One of the reasons why the TPP was proposed was it is being used as a counterweight to the advance of China. The TPP agreement promotes the pivot of Asia agenda. There is the rise of BRICS too which could threaten an alternative to the Western dollar system. I wish there will be no global war in the near future, but we should be prepared for anything. Even the global economy is very fragile. Hopefully, cooler heads will prevail. We both agree that Kenyan women should have their human rights protected totally.

    • elle D.

      Oh yes indeed, we most DEFINITELY agree that Kenyan women and ALL women must have their human rights protected. It feels ridiculous to have to write that in 2015 but then progress is in constant motion, slow it may be, at times.

    • Mitch

      The BRICS are Brasil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa. If or when the dollar loses its status as the world’s reserve currency, watch out !!!

  • ApMillz-CT

    This kneegrow been doing a lot of advocating for gays, trans, immigrants all while blacken and women are being killed by police!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Wow! What a disappointment