In Kenya, great strides have been made in promoting women’s rights including the right to education for girls and women. However, more remains to be done to address sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) including female genital mutilation and child marriage. Furthermore, the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated the existing gaps within Kenya’s systems which saw an unprecedented rise of all forms of gender-based violence.
Over 40% of women in Kenya are likely to face SGBV including intimate partner violence in their lifetime. One in five girls in Kenya is likely to face child marriage or female genital mutilation.
SGBV and the law in Kenya
Kenya is bound by several human rights frameworks at the regional and international level that prohibit all forms of SGBV and call on States to put in place necessary measures to protect women and girls from these violations.
Although Kenya has a robust legal framework comprising national regional and international instruments against sexual violence, these laws are yet to be translated into a lived reality for women and girls in Kenya.
The Kenyan government has shown political goodwill and commitment through the Presidential declaration to end Female Genital Mutilation by 2022. This commitment has opened up national conversations to address the drivers that perpetuate this violation and by extension other forms of gender-based violence. In support of the Presidential Commitment, Equality Now has been providing convening and technical support to the Multi-Agency Committee convened by the Government of Kenya in overseeing the realization of this commitment.
In June 2021 during the Generation Equality Forum, the Kenyan Government made 12 key commitments to end gender-based violence by 2026. These commitments establish a critical platform for Equality Now and its CSO partners to hold the State to account.
What is Equality Now doing?
In 2021, to coincide with the Generation Equality Forum (GEF) and hold the government of Kenya to account for its commitments towards the advancement of women’s and girls’ rights, we ran a visibility campaign including:
- Curating and amplifying civil society voices to inform priorities in the lead up to the forum: Equality Now convened non-state actors (with participation of some state actors) to deliberate and develop a civil society blueprint to inform the Kenyan Government’s priorities in the lead up to the Generation Equality Forum on addressing gender based violence in Kenya.
- Holding the Kenyan Government to account on GEF commitments: As a follow up to the commitments made by the Kenyan Government, we have been mobilizing and engaging with civil society organisations to hold the Government to account including through calls on the government to deliver on the 12 commitments towards ending gender based violence by 2026.
- Your Voice Matters: Conversations with influencers hosted by Janet Mbugua: In June 2021, in partnership with Better 4 Kenya, we held a series of conversations with remarkable influencers in Kenya on the status of women’s rights in Kenya. These conversations also helped create a critical mass to hold the government to account through the Generation Equality Forum.
- Social experiment – In August 2021, in collaboration with a national media house Capital FM we conducted a social experiment to illustrate how widespread SGBV is in Kenya.
- Joint Youth Forum – In June and September 2021, we hosted youth from six counties in Kenya to explore ways through which they would hold the government to account for its commitments to end Gender-Based Violence by 2026.
- Outdoor advocacy – In September, 2021, we launched an outdoor advocacy in Kenya to create awareness among Kenyans on Gender-Based Violence (GBV) and the commitments the Kenyan Government had made to end GBV while exploring ways through which they can hold the government to account.