Pervasive around the globe, gender-based violence (GBV) is a persistent and devastating human rights violation that often goes unreported due to the impunity, silence, stigma and shame surrounding it. According to recent statistics, 45% of women globally reported that they or a woman they know has experienced a form of violence.
- SDG: #5, #16
- SECTORS: Development Consulting
- COUNTRIES: Kenya
- DONOR: Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland
In Kenya, the Government has made an ambitious announcement to prevent and finally eradicate female genital mutilation (FGM) and GBV from the country by 2026. In recognition of the UN Day on the Elimination of Violence against Women, we wanted to share the work of a programme NIRAS is implementing in support of Kenya’s efforts to strengthen prevention and response to GBV. With support from the Government of Finland, Michelle Dawn Ell and her team are strengthening the government’s ability to work better with other actors in the fight against sexual violence. “We are actively engaging civil society organisations to determine potential points of partnership that government can leverage to scale solutions that are working,” Michelle explains.
At the recent launch and signing of a Memorandum of Understanding for the GBV programme on behalf of Kilifi County in eastern Kenya, Honourable Aisha Jumwa Katana, the Cabinet Secretary for the Ministry of Public Service, Gender and Affirmative Action recognised the tremendous work that has been done to date, especially the coordination of all the players “who have worked together to prioritise the unique needs in Kilifi, build on what is already working, and innovate new ideas and solutions. We have seen a multi-sectoral team that is ready to hustle for this programme, we have a calendar that shows the drivers of GBV and, we have an analysis that shows priority wards due to GBV…this bilateral programme is about what we can do better together through strategic partnership and strengthened coordination – helping our Governments to shine.”
Kilifi County is first one of three counties (including also Bungoma and Samburu) sign the MoU and launch at county-level.
In addition to strengthening coordination through the County and Ward gender sector working groups, the GBV programme team has been engaging with cultural leaders and elders. In the photo below, you can see a county-level meeting taking place (here in Samburu County) with the Administrators and Chiefs to gauge their experience in handling GBV cases and introduce the programme as well as have some discussions to identify key areas for collaboration on reducing GBV risks and vulnerabilities in their respective communities. These meetings generated new insights and recommendations on how the programme could complement their current efforts while also identifying critical capacity gaps and constraints.
Michelle and her team are also engaging survivors, women, youth, and other community groups in all three counties to explore new ways of supporting them to deliver group- and community-level counselling services.
Some key successes include the creation of seasonal calendars of GBV Risk & Vulnerability, GBV risk ratings for each Ward and County and a model for coordination. Seasonal calendars are a tool to prioritise activities around critical timing when GBV frequency often spikes and where greater collaboration is needed. For example cultural practices that can create conditions for or promote GBV such as celebrations or disco matanga.
The team has built trust and positive working relationships across sectors – helping diverse stakeholders in state and county governments to recognise how the programme is designed to enable and support them to carry out their respective duties, while also focusing on the key drivers of GBV, and barriers affecting the delivery of survivor-centred care. They have also inspired common approaches and more synergies across different programmes, initiatives, and donor groups for example with the Kenya Red Cross and the GBV Recovery Centres in several counties.
In the photo below, two cultural leaders can be seen holding a signed declaration to end (FGM) and child marriage in their community.
Stay tuned as we plan to bring you more news from the GBV programme in the coming months as Michelle and her team work to achieve critical milestones in the programme’s first year of implementation.