Make gender equality a reality, Kenya! - Equality Now
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Make gender equality a reality, Kenya!

It has been more than 26 years now since governments, including Kenya, came together and committed to promoting gender equality through the adoption of the 1995 Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action on Gender Equality.

*Patricia was a small scale business owner in Nairobi before the COVID-19 pandemic struck Kenya. Her husband was a long-distance truck driver, who would ferry goods from Kenya to other East African countries.

But when Kenya reported its first COVID-19 case in March 2020, and shortly thereafter announced a countrywide lockdown and instituted a dawn to dusk curfew, Patricia and her husband were forced to stay home and contend with a drastically reduced income.

Before long, Patricia’s husband started coming home drunk and would physically and sexually assault her. The assault has been getting more and more violent and Patricia fears for her life.

Although Patricia knows that she could report her husband to the authorities, her husband is the owner of their marital home as well as the main breadwinner and she does not have anywhere else to go should she report the assault.

Patricia’s story is true for so many women in Kenya who have already suffered or are at risk of sexual and gender-based violence including intimate partner violence but are stuck with their abusers in places that should offer them safety - their homes.

It has been more than 26 years now since governments, including Kenya, came together and committed to promoting gender equality through the adoption of the 1995 Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action on Gender Equality.

Since then, Kenya has adopted a raft of critical legislations designed to address sexual and gender-based violence and has also shown political commitment towards addressing some aspects of gender-based violence through the Presidential commitment to eliminate Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) by 2022.

Despite this, justice for many women and girls remains elusive with the COVID-19 pandemic exposing the gaps that exist within Kenya’s justice systems while at the same time exacerbating the violation of the rights of many women and girls.

Among the glaring gaps that continue to deny women and girls access to their rights is the lack of government-run safe shelters for those at risk of sexual and gender-based violence. The absence of these safety nets means that women and girls are forced to endure continued abuse and are at the mercy of their violators.

Over and above this, survivors of sexual and gender-based violence in Kenya are often re-violated due to the lack of ‘one-stop centers’ that provide legal, physical, and psychosocial care under one roof. Traumatized survivors are often required to preserve evidence and move from the hospitals to the police station to counselors and back throughout the justice process.

With the significant participation of various governments, civil society organizations, philanthropists and entrepreneurs, UN Women, co-hosted by the governments of France and Mexico, will be convening in June 2021 the Generation Equality Forum, to assess the progress made by various countries over the last 26 years of the Beijing Declaration towards gender equality and gender justice. This convening will also set a pathway of concrete measures to achieve gender equality by 2030.

As different countries take stock of the progress made towards gender justice at the Generation Equality Forum, Kenya can and should take the critical steps to at the very least establish Safe shelters for women and girls at risk of SGBV and one stop centers for survivors of GBV.

During this forum, the government of Kenya will occupy the coveted position of being one of the Generation Equality Gender-Based Violence (GBV) Action Coalition Leaders.

Join us as we mark this year’s Africa Day by urging the government of Kenya to stand by women and girls by:

  • Setting up and equipping government-run safe shelters in each of Kenya’s 47 counties, for women and girls at risk of sexual and gender-based violence; and
  • Setting up one-stop Gender-Based Violence Recovery Centres for survivors of sexual and gender-based violence in all level 5 and 6 (County level) hospitals where they can access legal, physical, and psychosocial support under one roof.

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