As the world celebrated the international Women’s Day yesterday, women in Kenya joined the first lady, Margaret Kenyatta for her Beyond Zero half marathon at the Nyayo National Stadium.
The initiative aimed at improving maternal health care in Kenya, which is now in its second edition, attracted dozens of men, women and children, who were participating in either the 2km fun run, 10km, 21km.
The first lady as usual ran the 21km race and the crowd was sent into a frenzy as she broke into a sprint 100 meters before the finish line into the arms of President Kenyatta, who embraced her affectionately. She improved her personal best time in the 21km race by a staggering 28:80 minutes.
Fifteen women die every day due to pregnancy related complications in Kenya and 20% of all deaths among mothers in the country are HIV/AIDS-related.
In order to improve maternal and child health outcomes in the country, the First Lady of Kenya, Margaret Kenyatta launched the ‘Beyond Zero Campaign’ on 24th January 2014. The new initiative also aims to accelerate the implementation of the national plan towards the elimination of new HIV infections among children.
15 thousand people participated in yesterday’s marathon, including VIPs like Deputy President William Ruto and his wife Rachel lined up in the 10km race alongside Cabinet Secretaries Hassan Wario (Sports, Culture and the Arts), Joseph Nkaissery (Interior) and Anne Waiguru (Devolution) and senators Kipchumba Murkomen (Elgeyo Marakwet) and Nairobi’s gold-wearing Senator Mike Sonko.
The Commercial Bank of Africa donated Sh25 million, Kakamega County Sh1 million, Deputy President William Ruto Sh17 million and Ministry of Health Sh3 million to the Beyond Zero campaign, which according to reports raised Sh 46 million.
The funds raised from last year’s race helped purchase 21 fully-kitted mobile clinics, which were commissioned in 21 counties and 26 more were needed to go to the remaining counties.
“Our aim is to give each of the 47 counties a mobile clinic, which means that more needs to be done. We are just halfway through our journey and I am advocating for a healthy living,” the first lady said in her speech.