gender Archives - CREAWKENYA

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October 21, 2021by CREAWKENYA

When Center for Rights Educations and Awareness (CREAW) Kenya, spread its wingHaki s to Kitui county to support women and girls facing violence in the community, Dorcas Belinta, a widow and founder of Mosa vision group, was only doing little to economically empower her fellow widows in Kisasi village Kitui Rural Subcounty.  

Luckily, she was among 30 women picked from 14 active women led community based organizations in Kitui county to undergo a training on how best they can support survivors of gender based violence, as well as create awareness in the community regarding the vice. The training which is supported by CREAW in partnership with ForumCIV under the Haki Mashinani project is implemented in Kitui and Nyeri counties. It was based on the SASA model, which addresses violence against women, in community-based approaches and aims at changing the attitudes and behavior of men and women.  

 The four-phase process, developed by Raising Voices in Kampala, Uganda, mobilizes communities for a change in social norms. The primary goal of SASA! is to reduce violence against women and girls by exploring the balance of power in intimate partner relationships and in broader community dynamics. 

 “After the training we had our first community dialogue, where we invited the chief, 3 religious leaders and village elders. It was an open session of learning and unlearning what we thought was right as a community” Says Dorcas. 

 The primary school teacher, was encouraged by feedback she got after the meeting. She would get invited to have a talk in other community dialogues as well as enlighten her students more on issues of sexual and gender based violence. 

 “Previously, Mosa Vision group was doing table banking and outreaches in schools distributing sanitary packs, but now the training has built our capacity in addressing violence against women in the community” Confirms Dorcas. 

 The mother of three is now fixing her eyes on the political scene, as she feels political good will is another key in advancing the gender agenda as well as championing for the rights of women and girls. 

 “I want to be the next woman representative of Kitui County in the 2022 general elections. I understand the plight of widows and want to champion for their rights to own property as well as access property left behind by their late husbands. Widows here don’t have people who enlighten them on their rights” Concludes Dorcas with a smile.

 As a GBV champion, Dorcas notes that there’s an emerging trend of economic violence aside from sexual violence in Kitui County. As a widow, she relates well with women involved in matrimonial property succession and marriage, that were proving hard for them to handle. With her eyes focused on her political ambition, Dorcas is a woman on the move to make it better for fellow women and the next generation of girls. 


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September 28, 2020by CREAW

By Grace Katee

Dressed in purple and white; a sign of royalty and peace- they all came to witness the climax of the journey they had travelled so long. 12th September 2019 it a was! A new dawn reckoned and the little known women group, Wima Women Empowerment network (WIMA), was now a fully-fledged community based organisation.

Launch of WIMA in Kilifi. PHOTO/CREAW

Three years ago, 33 WIMA members came together with a soul purpose to eliminate cases of gender based violence (GBV) that was ailing communities in Kilifi. At the time, GBV matters were only spoken in undertones and most cases would go unreported because of the cultural constrictions.

It is such barriers that also continue to chain women voices- and when the silence was too loud, WIMA’s actions to change societal attitudes and norms became louder. Through their network, they continued to build momentum, galvanising support from the various community (chiefs, Kaya elders, women) and county government structures to free women from the chains of gender inequalities.

And as Helda Tujara tells us, the community dialogues they have held in the community have created spaces for men and women to reflect on power imbalances at family level and how best to parent children- giving them equal educational opportunities for better future.

“Pictorial exhibitions showcasing the effects of domestic violence have helped stimulate conversations, educated communities and translated into change of perceptions and community support in actions geared towards addressing violence against women and girls,” a happy Helda tells us.

Unveiling of the WIMA registration certificate. The organisation is now a fully established community based organisation. PHOTO/CREAW

Helda and other members of WIMA are proud to have been supported by the Haki Yetu Jukumu Letu project implemented by CREAW in Kilifi and Meru Counties with the support from the Embassy of the Netherlands in Kenya.

Through the project, WIMA members were trained on the laws that appertain to gender based violence, citizen-led social accountability, budget monitoring and accountability. From the knowledge, they have built collective agency, risen to break the silence and demanded for accountability in GBV service delivery.

Helda who has been the chairlady of WIMA since its onset, explains to us that the passion to protect women and girls from the scourge of GBV drove them to work with a unity of purpose.

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“We wanted girls to thrive and women to live in peaceful households with their families.

Currently, the skyrocketing teen pregnancy statistics hoovers over our heads. We must start over and parent our children properly,” says Helda noting that it is that moment that actors, parents and community as a whole took action.

As the chairlady, she speaks strongly on inclusivity. “Women and girls are a critical mass in communities. Thus, they also have a voice in the decisions that affects the larger community. We do it not for us but for the benefit of the entire community,” she says.

At the core of their work is empowerment; as they strengthen their knowledge and build confidence on community work, they have also ensured that other line stakeholders and county structures are enjoined in their activities.

“As GBV champions, we are well known in the community and the county also recognizes us. During the budget making processes, we are given chance to participate and present our issues,” says Sophia Suleiman also a longtime member of WIMA. Such endeavours have helped in improving government responsiveness to the needs of women and girls.

For the first time in Kilifi since the onset of the devolved government, a fully fledged gender department was established owing to the efforts of WIMA. And as Sophia tells us, theirs is a vision that calls for a responsive government and a supportive community to address the plight of survivors.

“Among us, are also the referral champions who continuously receive cases from communities

Last year, WIMA was among the stakeholders appointed by the County Government of Kilifi to look into the issue of teen pregnancy- and even though the report of the task force is yet to be made public, they are happy to be part of the team that would deliver change to many young girls in Kilifi.

“We hold conversations with bodaboda riders to change their behaviours since they have been the largest perpetrators of sexual violence against children. With that, we are making them champions and defenders of the rights of women and girls to reduce child pregnancies,” says Saumu Mwadime who represents WIMA at the teen pregnancy task force.

WIMA’s progressive endeavours are not only felt by the women and girls but the entire community. They lobbied and advocated for good infrastructure within their localities to improve safety and security. Last year, their actions saw the establishment of the Chasimba Police station- the first in Chonyi since time immemorial.

Apart from that, they have also been supporting survivors through their legal journeys; providing psychosocial support and legal information. These has gone along way in helping survivors navigate the often tedious justice system, hold perpetrators accountable for their actions and help survivors heal from the harm done to them.

Fast forward, here they are- living in the moment and helping their communities build sensitivity to the rights of women and girls. Continuously, they network with line partners to device local solutions to the emerging issues in the county.

“We have the power and thus change is the only thing that is inevitable. Our work continues,” concludes Laura Wawuda who represents the youthful wing of WIMA.

Writing by Christine Ogutu

 


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January 15, 2020by CREAW

Thursday afternoon, men and women are gathered at the Tom Mboya Hall in Makadara to converse on rather difficult subject that is mostly unspoken in the households, the silence is even louder among the communities.

Tom Mboya Hall is synonymous with community gatherings that called for liberation in the clamour for independence in Kenya. And so, I gather that the ground where we are seated is symbolic enough; from the conversation, freedom calls- it is a day to let free and openly talk about domestic violence and by extension, other forms of gender based violence.

But first, a skit is dramatised…

“The play is set in a household with a family of six. The couple in their fifties at first paints a picture of a happy home but behind the scene, the husband is involved in a romantic affair with a 19 year old  who is also in a romantic affair with the son.

After awhile, the wife is made aware of the husband’s meanderings and the home turns chaotic with revelations of HIV infections.” –for a minute, a sharp silence follows, the melancholic faces connotes the realities that women and girls are forced to contend with in the various households.

Slowly and slowly, the murmurs transitions into a buzz of discussions. Ken Odaga a Community Champion leads the conversations.

From the conversations, it emerges that silence around gender violence makes women and girls more vulnerable and often compounds their sufferings. Today is a day to break the silence; notes Odaga.

Odaga, a long time resident of Makadara understands that the stigma around gender based violence (GBV) has contributed greatly to survivors not speaking out on their perpetrators and hence they are not able to get justice and heal from the harm done to them.

“In the conversations, we are making communities aware of their rights and the existing GBV related laws. This is a sure way of ensuring communities are involved in actions that addresses the vice,” he says.

Odaga also explains that, the skits makes it easier to communicate what would have otherwise been difficult to talk about given the social norms around issues like intimate partner violence that exists among communities.

The conversations are spearheaded by community champions under the Linda Haki project implemented by CREAW in partnership with the United Nations Development Programs.

The Linda Haki project aims at educating communities on their rights as provided for in the constitution to enable them seek legal redress and stem out gender based violence in Nairobi’s informal settlements of Kibera, Kamukunji and Makadara.

Under the project, Odaga and 60 other community champions were trained on the existing legal frameworks and GBV. From the knowledge, they have taken the initiative locals within their localities.

“Following the dialogues, community members are now opening up and debunking the myths around intimate partner violence and supporting survivors to deal with the violations,” says Odaga.

The community conversations have also instilled a growing interest among community members on the available laws that protects women and girls from gender violence.

Writing by Christine Ogutu


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October 10, 2019by CREAW

October 3rd 2019 marked a new dawn for the women and girls residing in Nairobi’s informal settlements as the Linda Haki project was launched.

Locals pose for a photo during the Linda Haki project launch. PHOTO/CREAW

The Linda Haki project implemented by CREAW with the support from the United Nations Development Programs aimed at increasing access to justice and legal aid services for the poor and vulnerable women in the informal settlements of Nairobi.

Speaking during the launch, the Nairobi County Director of Gender, Culture and Social Services Jane Waruguru lauded the efforts to enhance access to legal information, noting that the initiative is timely and will go along way in ensuring that the rights of women and girls are well respected.

“I am happy that the project will bring power to the people and empower them to enhance protection for women and girls in the households and around Nairobi,” said the Director.

Universities signs MOU with CREAW to provide legal aid in Nairobi’s informal settlements. PHOTO/CREAW

She said that the County Government of Nairobi, is concerned about the plight of residence who face challenge in accessing legal information and representation and thus is open to partnerships geared towards helping residents realize their rights.

Echoing in her sentiments was the CREAW’s Director Wangechi Wachira who called on the GBV stakeholders and duty bearers to work together and enhance actions towards eliminating gender based violence in the informal settlements of Nairobi.

The Kamkunji Sub-County Assistant County Commissioner Fred Ndunga reiterated the need to address defilement matters which are sky rocketing in the community. He said, the silence around the matter is worrisome and must be addressed to protect children from repeated attacks.

“I am concerned that some Chiefs conspire to solve defilement cases at familial level. We must stop this,” said Ndunga who also called on the locals to take responsibility and report violations for perpetrators to be held accountable.

During the Launch, CREAW got into partnership with three universities law schools in provision of legal aid services to poor and vulnerable members of communities in Kibera, Makadara and Kamukunji areas in Nairobi County. The universities involved includes; Strathmore University Law School, Kenyatta University –School Of Law and Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture And Technology University-Law School.