Activist on a mission to teach women self-defence skills (Photo: Dr. Sharon Okubo)

In response to the alarming increase in femicide cases across the country, gender-based-violence activist Dr Sharon Okubo has launched a nationwide mission; a self-defense programme for women.

The activist who is popular for launching the Red Card Campaign says her social entrepreneur team will be initiating self-defence centres across the country, avenues that will be free to girls and women from all walks of life.

Dr Okubo announced the move after jetting into Nairobi this week noting that she was optimistic of getting support from various stakeholders in eliminating violence and discrimination against women, girls and boys.

“Recognising the urgent need for women to possess both tactics and tools to defend themselves, these classes aim to empower women and girls in Kenya. We are thrilled to announce that our esteemed goodwill ambassador, dedicated to eradicating all forms of violence and discrimination against women, girls, and boys, has embarked on a new mission to combat gender-based violence (GBV) in Kenya,” said Dr Okubo.

“The location for these self-defence classes is intentionally kept anonymous to ensure the safety and security of participants. This confidentiality is crucial to protect attendees and prevent potential perpetrators from gaining knowledge about the class locations,” Dr Okubo said.

The goodwill ambassador said it is everyone’s collective responsibility to bring about positive change and empower women and girls. She said through these self-defence classes, girls and women with the skills and confidence needed to navigate potentially dangerous situations.

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Her GBV activism agenda has been seeking to mobilise individuals from all sectors of society to commit to eradicating all forms of discrimination and violence against women and girls.

The move comes barely a month after thousands of people made protest marches in Kenyan cities and major towns following escalating cases of gender-based-violence deaths witnessed across the country. The anti-femicide demonstration was the largest protest ever witnessed in the country.

According to a 2019 World Bank report, GBV, or violence against women and girls, is a global pandemic that affects one in three women in their lifetime.

The report has it that 35 per cent of women worldwide have experienced either physical and (or) sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence.

Globally, seven percent of women have been sexually assaulted by someone other The move by the African Renaissance and Diaspora Network (ARDN) supported campaign comes barely a month after thousands of people made protest marches in Kenyan cities and major towns following escalating cases of gender-based-violence deaths witnessed across the country. The anti-femicide demonstration was the largest protest ever witnessed in the country.

According to a 2019 World Bank report, GBV, or violence against women and girls, is a global pandemic that affects one in three women in their lifetime.

The report has it that 35 per cent of women worldwide have experienced either physical and (or) sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence.

Globally, seven per cent of women have been sexually assaulted by someone other than a partner while as many as 38 per cent of murders of women are committed by an intimate partner. Two hundred million women have experienced female genital mutilation.

“Let us stand united against gender-based violence and work towards creating a safer and more empowered society for all. Together, we can make a difference,” Dr Sharon said.

Femicide and gender-based violence cases have become rampant, and the more reason women should enrol for defence classes.

Self-defence training is a life skill that helps girls and women to be more aware of their surroundings and be prepared for the unexpected at any time. That involves defending the health and well-being of oneself from harm.

Through the self-defence training, the girls and women are taught to become psychologically, intellectually and physically strong enough to protect themselves in times of distress.

Mike Otieno is a gym instructor as well as a self-defence instructor working at a fitness centre in South B, Nairobi.

He says following the increasing cases of assaults, especially on women, there is a need for more sensitization when it comes to self-defence.

“I echo the call to have women, whether through fitness centres, martial arts academies or community centres, start taking up self-defence workshops or classes. I have been a firm advocate of girls and women learning how to protect themselves against assault and theft through martial arts or other physical techniques,” says Otieno.  

Most people think self-defense classes only teach about fighting but that is not the case. In as much as that is one of the lessons given, they teach all about what to do when in a threatening environment.

One of the reasons why women all over the world should normalize taking these classes is to become more vigilant. This aids in being on the lookout for possible danger and hence avoiding it prior. Paying attention to your environment while in public plays a big role in keeping safe.

Sometimes it is hard to see danger coming, therefore, acquiring skills on how to get out of a threatening situation is crucial. Such skills like martial arts come in handy when women need to stand up for themselves physically.

Some of the moves ladies are taught include elbow strikes, hammer strikes, groin kicks, escape with hands trapped and escape from a bear hug attack.

Self-defence also encompasses instincts. They help in judging a situation where one can become a victim or a victor. Women with high instincts can tell when a situation is a scam or genuine and are not easily swayed by online scammers.

All these skills combined bring out a confident woman, a fearless personality and an empowered character.