The Ministry of Public Service and Gender in partnership with development partners and civil society organisations yesterday launched 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence and Gender Based Violence Recovery Center Guidelines at a colourful virtual event.
This year’s event comes at a time when the world is grappling with the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic which has ravaged global economies and has brought with it social, economic, health and psychological effects of unexpected magnitude. Subsequently, cases of GBV against women and girls, particularly domestic violence, have escalated around the world.
The 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence is a time that is set aside every year to galvanize action to end violence against women and girls around the world. This year’s theme is “Orange the World, Fund, Respond, Prevent, Collect”.
The event was presided over by Principal Secretary for the State Department for Gender, Prof. Collette Suda who in her opening remarks noted that there had been a 55% increase in GBV cases between March and June when COVID-19 struck however, the figure had reduced by 41% between July and October largely due to advocacy work.
Prof. Suda pointed out the various initiatives that have been undertaken to deal with GBV including the establishment of gender desks in police stations, establishment of toll-free hotlines such as 1195 as well as advocacy campaigns. “The State Department for Gender in partnership with Healthcare Assistance Kenya operates a 24-hour toll-free helpline that supports survivors of GBV to receive online counseling and referrals for medical and legal services,” she said.
The Principal Secretary said the 16 days of activism this year will focus on the five Ps which are prevention of GBV, protection of the survivors, prosecution of perpetrators and partnership in the implementation of programmes around GBV. “No single Government Ministry, Department, Agency, faith based or civil society organization can address GBV in isolation. Therefore, this calls for multi-sectoral and multi-agency interventions to address health, legal, psycho-social, economic and cultural issues. We must focus on the five Ps that guide our work in this area,” she noted.
The UN Country Representative, Ms. Anna Mutavati affirmed that UN Women is committed to providing technical and financial support for Kenya to deliver on its obligations to prevent and respond to GBV but called on more efforts to go beyond financial funding. “We must put in more effort on mobilising every resource available in the communities as opposed to focussing on financial funding to fight GBV,” she stated.
The EU Ambassador to Kenya, Amb. Simon Mordue, who is also the Co-Chair of the Development Partners Group on Gender pledged more support from the EU during the 16 Days of Activism and beyond.
Another highlight of the event was the launch of the Guidelines for the Establishment of Gender Based Violence Recovery Centers (GBVRCs) in Kenya which were developed to standardise the service quality of the centers across the country. The GBVRCs are provided for in Vision 2030 as underscored in the social pillar that prioritises prevention and response to gender based violence and eradication of FGM.
Important days that will be marked during the 16 Days of Activism are the International Day for Persons with disabilities on the 3rd of December, the International Volunteer Day on the 5th of December and the International Human Rights Day on the 10th of December.
By Catherine Kamau and Jacquiline Kirimi