Kenyan Women Resist Post-Election Violence


Education_KenyaFebruary 4, 2008
Kenyan Women Resist Post-Election Violence
Kenyan sources report that to date, over 1,000 Kenyans have died and over 800,000 are displaced and living in 311 rescue camps all over the country. We have recently reached out to help our Kenyan partners as they scrambled to respond to this unexpected turn of events. Read Full Post

 

Kenyan Women Resist Post-Election Violence

Kenyan Women Resist Post-Election Violence

Education_KenyaKenyan sources report that to date, over 1,000 Kenyans have died and over 800,000 are displaced and living in 311 rescue camps all over the country. Kathleen Cravero, director of the U.N. Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery, called for aid for Kenyan women and reported that attacks against women have doubled since the outbreak of post-election violence. We have recently reached out to help our Kenyan partners as they scrambled to respond to this unexpected turn of events. One key partner is GROOTS Kenya.

Led by a young woman who long ago recognized the potential power of women's collective action, GROOTS Kenya mobilizes women in Nairobi's vast slums and rural communities to respond to crippling poverty, lack of educational opportunities, and staggering numbers of AIDS deaths.

In the wake of the recent post-election violence, GROOTS is putting a priority on long-term reconciliation processes. While food and shelter are being provided by the Red Cross, GROOTS is organizing peace dialogues to bring divided communities together to air their grievances and find healthy ways of making their concerns known to the leaders that are so removed from the realities in the slums. This includes the young men who have been easily manipulated to inflict harm on their neighbors, including rape. Uneducated, unemployed, with no perspective on how their actions do not address their own marginalization, it is important that they be reached and convinced to see reason. GROOTS also hopes that the peace dialogues will highlight the common suffering among ethnic groups so as to enable non-violent advocacy actions.

The Global Fund for Women also works with the Gender Violence Recovery Centre (GVRC) in Nairobi. It is the only post-rape trauma center of its kind in East Africa, offering HIV post-exposure prophylaxis, comprehensive STI testing, pregnancy testing, counseling, and referral to legal services – all for free. As rape is reported in increasing numbers, GVRC has dispatched mobile units to the slums and Internally Displaced People's camps in different parts of the country to provide its critical services to women and girls who otherwise have no money for care. In a context of almost 7 percent HIV prevalence and an estimated 2.4 million AIDS orphans, access to life-saving anti-retroviral drugs is critical to prevent new HIV infections. Women's foundations from around the world – including Urgent Action Fund, African Women's Development Fund and Mama Cash – have also funneled funds to GVRC to respond to the rampant sexual violence.

As a human rights organization that mobilizes funds to respond to violations against women and girls around the world, the Global Fund for Women is no stranger to the persistent use of women's bodies as the battlefield for political gain and influence. Whether it's in Bosnia, Rwanda, South Africa, Japan, Democratic Republic of Congo, or Colombia, intimidation by sexual terrorism is a dark but under-reported fact of political history. Just as we have in the past, the Global Fund does and will continue to award  grants to women's groups in these countries to advocate against the culture of impunity as well as to provide emergency services to victims of rape.

Photo of Kenyan women by the Nomadic Pastoralist Education Project.

Muadi Mukenge is the Senior Program Officer for Africa.

 

900 Girls in Zimbabwe Speak Out

GCN900 Girls in Zimbabwe Speak Out
Betty Makoni, founder of the Girl Child Network in Zimbabwe, a dynamic Global Fund grantee that works to end all forms of violence against girls and to promote education and leadership of girls, recently shared with us a declaration issued by Zimbabwean girls at a crucial conference. Over 900 girls attended the Girls Speak Out Conference. Given the rising incidence of HIV/AIDS and poverty, which jeopardize girls’ health and lives, they talked about, and then declared, what girls need from their society so that they can thrive.

Read the Declaration:

We, the participants at the Girls National HIV/AIDS Speak Out Conference. Being aware of the dangers posed by the continued spread of HIV to the well being of the girl child.

Taking cognizance of the efforts of all sectors of society from Government, NGOs and private individuals in trying to reduce the impact of HIV/AIDS on the aforementioned girls.

Yet still recognizing that girls of the ages of the participants are among the most affected by HIV/AIDS, do make the following Declaration:

1. That the media be sensitive in its portrayal of HIV /AIDS issues especially where they concern girls.
2. The media should publish for all ages and not focus on adults. This also refers to the adverts carried in the media about HIV.
3. Home based care programmes should be strengthened and involve all sectors of society to allow girls space to attend school as they are spending a lot of school time taking care of relatives.
4. Programmes that fight discrimination and stigma must be strengthened, especially in school, and specific AIDS programmes must be introduced into the school curriculum and taught by specially qualified staff.
5. HIV education and awareness programmes on abuse should begin in Grade Zero to raise awareness of HIV and abuse from the earliest learning age.
6. There is need to increase awareness about other forms of transmission of HIV, not to focus on sexual transmission.
7. Children’s income generating programmes especially in school clubs be promoted and strengthened to allow children to gain financial capacity too care for the needs of fellow children infected and affected.
8. Programmes that benefit orphans and vulnerable children, especially those living with HIV should be scaled up.
9. Money allocated to HIV/AIDS programmes for children should be used transparently and be accounted for properly
10. All cases of rape and child abuse should be treated swiftly and equally without considering the position or influence of the alleged perpetrator.
11. Access to Post Exposure Prophylaxis should be a right for all victims of rape.
12. Testing and counseling centres should engage children as peer counselors to enable children to speak out better.
13. Children living with HIV /AIDS should have access to playing a meaningful role in programmes that affect them.
14. Discussion on HIV issues and the status of members should be openly discussed from national to family level to demystify the issues.
15. All organisations that work in the field of HIV/AIDS should work closely together between themselves and with the national programmes in order to derive maximum benefits for the girls who need the interventions.

Agreed to on this 2nd day of December 2007 at Seke Teachers’ College, Chitungwiza.

Photo on top from Paola Gianturco's book Women Who Light the Dark, published by powerHouse Books.

 

What America Must Do: A Woman's Worth

FPcover Recently, Foreign Policy magazine asked a group of the world's leading thinkers to answer one question: What single policy or gesture can the next president of the United States make to improve America's standing in the world? Global Fund CEO and President Kavita Ramdas  was among those invited to respond to this question.

Read more »
 

What America Must Do: A Woman's Worth

FPcoverRecently, Foreign Policy magazine asked a group of the world's leading thinkers to answer one question: What single policy or gesture can the next president of the United States make to improve America's standing in the world? Global Fund CEO and President Kavita Ramdas  was among those invited to respond to this question. Read an excerpt from the post below to find out what she has to say!

What America Must Do: A Woman’s Worth

Without spending a dime, the next president can single-handedly lift half of the world.  

For the next president, there are no quick fixes. American moral legitimacy has suffered setback after setback in recent years, and there is no singular step a president can now take that would wipe the slate clean overnight. Indeed, seven years of unilateral gestures are what have brought us to this point. The United States is still admired for the possibilities it holds, but it has lost the benefit of the doubt.

At such a moment, what is needed is a sudden and unmistakable break from the past. It should be a policy that clearly demonstrates that the world’s most powerful country is willing to harness its resources to benefit those who, so far, have been denied power. The next president should make a public commitment to use his or her office to promote global gender equality for the next four years.

Cynics will roll their eyes. Some will see this as a task best left to a U.N. agency with an acronym they can’t quite recall. Others will consider it a well-meaning and important initiative that must be pushed aside in favor of more pressing issues. They are all mistaken. Not only is gender equality an important goal in its own right, but it is also an efficient path to solving many of the problems that plague our world. In the past decade, the increased employment of women in developed economies has contributed more to global growth than China’s rise. Not surprisingly, therefore, the education of women far outstrips most other strategies for economic development in the poorest nations.

Likewise, many developing countries are beset with poverty, high child mortality rates, and the spread of HIV/AIDS. Yet we now know that with every additional year of education a woman receives beyond the fourth grade, average family size drops by 20 percent and child mortality rates drop by 10 percent.

This piece is excerpted from "What America Must Do." Reproduced with permission from Foreign Policy #164 (January/February 2008). Copyright 2008, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

Kavita Ramdas is President and CEO of the Global Fund for Women.

 
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