Implement policies that protect women and girls, state urged

The African Women's Development and Communication Network (FEMNET) is now calling upon the government to hasten efforts towards implementing gender-responsive Covid-19 recovery plans.

According to the chairperson of the Board Emma Kaliya, the impact of the global pandemic has been devastating, with women and girls being the most affected, as a result of years of rising inequalities, discrimination, and normalized injustices.

“Covid-19 continues to be described as the 'great revealer' exposing the systemic and structural barriers that women’s rights activists and feminists have been fighting for decades.”

Speaking during the 8th Programming Conference and General Assembly of the feminist organisation, Kaliya added, “It is estimated that the pandemic could push up to 40 million people into extreme poverty across sub-Saharan Africa, with women and girls being hit hardest.”

The 8th Femnet Program Pan-African Feminist Retreat held on 12th and 13th of October at the Movenpick Hotel in Kenya. [Courtesy]

According to the National crime research centre findings in 2020, cases of gender-based violence increased rapidly at 92 per cent compared to 2019.

The data revealed that 81 per cent of the profiled cases were husbands who beat their wives while 19.8 per cent of cases were wives who beat their husbands in 2020.

Further, 59 per cent of female murdered victims were stabbed, 20 per cent strangled, 14 per cent hit by blunt objects, 7 per cent shot, and 14 per cent of those murdered were also raped.

In a previous address, Cabinet Secretary Ministry of Public Service, Gender, Senior Citizens Affairs & Special Programmes, Margaret Kobia explained that there is a correlation between the Covid-19 pandemic and the rising number of gender-based violence.

“We know that the cases are complex and that only 20 per cent of the cases are reported.”

In June this year, the government pledged to end Gender-based violence (GBV) including sexual violence by the year 2026. This will be done progressively through intensified campaigns of 12 commitments that can remove the systemic barriers that allow GBV to thrive.

Some of the commitments include; full implementation of GBV laws and policies by adopting a GBV indicator in the government performance contracting framework, investing USD 23 million (2.5 billion) for GBV prevention and response by 2022, and increase the resource allocation up to USD 50 million (5.5 billion) by 2026 through a co-financing model.

The government of Kenya committed to sustain the allocation for FY2020/2021 of USD 2.79 million (308 million) to GBV and FGM and incrementally work towards a minimum budget allocation for subsequent financial years.

Winners of the 2021 African Journalists Gender Equality Awards feted by FEMNET on October 13, at the Movenpick Hotel in Kenya. [Courtesy]

The forum also awarded Gender champions with Francis Odee clinching the male Ally award. “I am passionate about issues to do with women because I lost my mum when I was young simply because of queer cultural practices. I, therefore, decided that through my work, I would defend and protect women through impactful stories,” says Odee.

He adds, “Inclusion of men in ending gender equality issues is critical.”

The sexual reproductive health category was won by Melony Ishola from Nigeria, the Violence against Women category was awarded to Mashirima Kapombe from Kenya, Climate and Justice award went to Jennifer Julius from Tanzania and the Economic Justice and Rights award was clinched by Andile Shima from Zimbabwe, among others.

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