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Generation Equality: Kenya’s Bold Commitment to End GBV by 2026

By Maureen Chebor

 

Jane Ngweso (not real name) was driving along Forest Road to Parklands in March 2022. While admiring the neat and newly constructed Nairobi Express Highway, a motorbike rider, popularly known as Boda Boda riders abruptly sped into her lane. Jane veered off the road to avoid hitting him. Unfortunately, it was too late. He lay besides the road with a broken leg.  Being a foreigner and fairly new in Nairobi City, Jane nervously got out of the vehicle and tried to offer assistance.

 

A swam of Boda Boda riders gathered around her car and realising that she was a lady driver and foreigner, hell broke loose. The 32-year-old, diplomat disclosed that “Instantly, the Boda Boda riders surrounded my car. Initially, I thought they had gathered to assist their injured colleague, but then they began hurling insults and accused me of dangerous driving”. As she tried to explain herself, the callous, unruly riders brutally harassed and sexually molested her. In a video that was circulated on Social Media, the Boda Boda riders roughly groped her body. Motorist sped by and no one wanted to interfere in such an ugly situation. Extremely terrified, Jane screamed for help as the rowdy cyclists stripped and robbed her belongings.

 

In a country that prides itself of being free and secure for all its people, this was just one of the many incidents of Gender Based Violence (GBV) that women and girls face on a daily basis. In Kenya, GBV is highly prevalent in the private and public arena and yet information about access to justice for survivors and punishment of perpetrators remains scanty.

 

In their lifetime, over 40% of women in Kenya are likely to face physical or Sexual Gender Based Violence (SGBV). The most common form of GBV is emotional, physical and sexual intimate partner violence. Poverty among majority of Kenyan GBV survivors prevents them from accessing justice, timely medical services and treatment of injuries. Many survivors do not report the violations due to fear of experiencing more harm from their perpetrators.

 

There are widespread allegations that the authorities in Kenya are unable to guarantee the protection of GBV survivors; GBV cases are mismanaged and there is a lot of bribery in institutions mandated to provide justice and eliminate the scourge in society. Where cases are handled, some officers are said to lack the technical capacity and professionalism, leading to rampant stigmatisation of GBV survivors.

 

While Kenya has got a progressive Constitution, with Article 27 providing for fundamental rights on equality and freedom from discrimination based on gender, there is still a lot of work to be done in terms having the provisions institutionalised and funded. Article 59 in the Bill of Rights provides for the establishment of a National Gender Equality Commission, which is a critical Platform for addressing GBV. The Commission is mandated to investigate GBV-related cases and have them attended to. Additionally, the Kenyan Parliament has enacted the National Gender and Equality Act, providing a clear Policy Framework to address GBV.

 

Recently, the Nairobi County enacted a law on SGBV, which establishes an interconnected reporting and referral system that offers survivors a pathway to justice. The law will accelerate efforts towards the elimination of all forms of GBV in Nairobi County and ensure perpetrators are severely punished. It is imperative that such a legislation is enacted at the national level to ensure the protection of all women and girl against GBV across the country.

 

At the Generation Equality Forum in Paris in July 2021, the Government of Kenya committed to end GBV,  including sexual violence by 2026. As one of the global leaders of the GBV Action Coalition, Kenya has pledged to intensify its campaign to ensure the safety of women and girls. It has made twelve (12) bold commitments to ensure the elimination of all the systemic barriers that have facilitated the flourishing of GBV in the country.

 

The Government of Kenya has vowed to ensure the full implementation of GBV laws and policies by adopting a GBV indicator in the government Performance contracting framework to track duty-bearers’ accountability on enforcement and implementation of GBV laws and policies by 2022. In its pledge the government will invest USD 23 million for GBV prevention and response by 2022 and increase the resource allocation up to USD 50 million by 2026 through a co-financing model. Specifically, the Kenyan Government, commits to sustain the allocation for FY2020/2021 of USD 2.79 million to GBV and FGM and incrementally work towards a minimum budget allocation of USD 5million for subsequent financial years and institute an accountability framework for tracking expenditure.

 

Kenya has also committed to ratify and implement the ILO Convention 190 on eliminating GBV and Harassment in the world of work by 2026 in close partnership with the private sector. A module on GBV is to be introduced in the 2022 Kenya Demographic Health Survey to strengthen the utilisation of gender statistics in informing the design, scale-up and evaluation of FGM and GBV programming. The government will also develop a GBV management and information system by 2022 to strengthen GBV prevention and response programming and invest USD 1 million annually for GBV research, and innovation to boost evidence-based programming by 2026.

 

Additionally, there will be integration of GBV services, including medical, legal, and psychological support services into the essential minimum package of the Universal Health Coverage UHC by 2022. The government has also committed to scale up the national police service integrated response to GBV’ (Policare)’ and establish Gender-Based Violence Recovery Centers and shelters in all 47 counties by 2026.

 

A GBV survivors fund shall be established through a co-financing model in partnership with private sector, civil society, and other stakeholders for economic empowerment of GBV survivors. There will also be a GBV prevention and response in crisis situations such as COVID-19 pandemic response, humanitarian contexts and electoral related GBV.

 

The government of Kenya further strengthen its collaboration with non-state actors including girl-led, women’s rights organisations, male champions, and private sector through coordination structures such as the Gender Sector working groups at the national and county level. To ensure its global commitment to the Generation Equality Forum (GEF), Kenya will adopt and institutionalise the multi-sectoral GEF Leadership structure comprising the National Advisory Committee, the National Steering Committee, and the county leadership structure to guide the implementation of Kenya’s GEF Commitments in the GBV Action Coalition up to 2026.

 

EASSI joins its sister organisation Equality Now to call upon the Government of Kenya to:

  1. Institutionalise each of the 12 commitments by linking them individually to a State Department or organisation for action planning and budgeting;
  2. Have the 12 commitments embed in County planning documents;
  3. Develop a clear road-map and accountability framework of how each of the 12 commitments will be implemented, with meaningful engagement of non-governmental, civil society, women rights’ organisations and grassroots communities;
  4. Roll out the “Komesha Dhulma” campaign in all the 47 Counties; and
  5. Institutionalise the Generation Equality Forum Secretariat within the Ministry of Public Service, Youth, and Gender to fast-track action planning and implementation of the 12 GEF commitments.

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