The Deputy Speaker, Hon. Gladys Boss, represented the Speaker of the National Assembly, Rt. Hon. (Dr.) Moses Wetang’ula, at the International Parliamentarians Panel for Freedom of Religion, or Belief (IPPFoRB) Conference held at Serena Hotel in Nairobi today.
The conference, whose overarching theme is “Leave No One Behind” is used to promote freedom of religion or belief in the advancement of human flourishing and just societies and is the central transformative promise of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).
IPPFoRB was particularly welcomed as it promotes religion as a feature of civilization and its contribution to human understanding of development.
In her speech, Hon. Boss gave special recognition to Member of Parliament Hon. Lawrence Kwankwa, acknowledging South Africa’s significant progress in the political sphere.
Hon. Boss emphasized the importance of religion as a part of an individual’s identity, stating that the thematic workshop on the Sustainable Development Goals will assist in developing better legislative and policy frameworks.
Hon. Boss also noted that religion has played a significant role in the political sphere since post-independence, with faith-based organizations being critical in the development of socio-economic rights.
Regarding Kenya’s efforts to promote religion, Hon. Boss noted that the country has made strides in protecting religious freedoms, and the education system allows for the teaching of various religious subjects, which is not a common practice worldwide.
Hon. Boss was taken aback to learn that Kenya is among the few nations where law students are required to study not only Christian customary law, but also Islamic and Hindu marriage laws, which promotes religious tolerance among Kenyans.
Hon. Boss highlighted the government’s efforts in promoting inclusivity by granting licenses to faith-based radio stations to cater to diverse groups.
Moreover, she emphasized that religion plays a significant role in promoting social cohesion in addressing socio-economic issues within the government. She also acknowledged that the appointment of government officials includes a member from the Inter-Religious Council.
Hon. Boss expressed her hope that the conference would enable leaders to learn from each other as religion is a multifaceted concept that plays a crucial role in steering the country forward.