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Issue Number 31 • October 2012

Issue Number 31 • October 2012

Where are the women? D

EDITORIAL

Time for Kenyan women to lobby for security resolution has come

Africa and other war torn countries come together to support Kenya in ratifying resolution 1325

…By Jane Godia

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hen the United Nations adopted Security Resolution 1325 in October 2000, the need to have women at the table of peace and security decision making processes was urgent. This realisation was inspired by the fact that women, though the greatest victims of conflict, were never included in decision making processes geared towards, conflict prevention, reconciliation and peace building. Although a significantly high number of women have suffered violence in Kenya, historically, they have continuously been marginalised from peace processes, yet these are the women who, during conflict, bear the burden, not only of losing their husbands and sons, but also of taking care of those who have been injured and taking charge of the humanitarian process. Even in situations where they have been physically and sexually violated, women do not stop to recuperate, they remain on their feet, take charge of making things better. Although statistics have made it clear that both men and women experience and respond to conflict in different ways and in varying degrees, not enough countries in Africa, historically prone to conflict, incorporate a gender perspective in peace building processes.

Resolution

In a move towards the right direction, in 2000, the United Nations Security Council called for the adoption of a gender perspective that included the special needs of women and girls during repatriation and resettlement, rehabilitation, reintegration and postconflict reconstruction. This was the first formal and legal document from the United Nations Security Council that required parties in a conflict to respect women’s rights and to support their participation in peace negotiations and post-conflict reconstruction. Today only 35 countries globally have developed national action plans on Resolution 1325 and out of these only eight are from Africa. Kenya is working towards being the ninth country as it develops its NAP which started in 2010 with the nomination of a steering committee in a multi-sectoral approach. It is hoped that the document will be launched before the year ends.

Yvette Cheson, the establishment Coordinator of Angie Brooks International Centre in Liberia shares a word with participants during a high level conference to discuss the implementation of United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolution 1325 in Kenya at KICC recently. Inset: Sahle-Work Zewde who is the Director General of the United Nations office in Nairobi. Photo: Kenyan Woman Correspondent

According to Winnie Lichuma, chair The National Gender and Equality Commission, country specific context must be taken into consideration while developing a National Action Plan because even though policies and legislations exist, they are fragmented.

Strategy

“Kenya’s National Action Plan will come with an implementation matrix,” said Lichuma. She noted: “Attention has been paid to rural women because they are at high risk of being violated.” The women will be disaggregated because they are not homogenous. Those to be taken into consideration include the elderly, disabled and youth. “Kenya’s framework will check government commitment to gender equality,” Lichuma told a Practitioners Conference dubbed Best Practices: Women, Peace and Security Interventions that was held in Nai-

robi recently. Delegates were drawn from Africa, particularly countries that have experienced conflict that included Uganda, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Somalia, Senegal and beyond, such as Afghanistan. “We are eager to learn from all experiences and take stock on progress to understand how to face challenges,” Lichuma told representatives of the countries from Africa and Finland that have already ratified Resolution 1325 within their National Action Plans.

Ownership

Lichuma reiterated the fact that it was not possible to have women making decisions over peace and security if they are not within the political decision making spectrum. “The challenge is in realising the gender equality principle in political participation,” she said. Lichuma noted: “Attempts are being made to find a solution on how to make affirmative action possible at national and county assemblies.” Lichuma echoed the sentiments

of the Finnish ambassador to Kenya Sofie From-Emmersberger who reiterated that gender equality in the current dispensation is of utmost urgency. “It is important to ensure women’s participation and that they are able to run on equal terms with men,” From-Emmersberger. According to Atsango Chesoni, Executive Director Kenya Human Rights Commission, women’s participation is a process and “we should ensure that they are sure of their participation and what is expected of them when they enter these spaces”. Atsango noted: “If Resolution 1325 is different from national security, it is important to mainstream it within the national security strategy.” These same thoughts were shared by Nduta Kweheria, a programme officer with the Kenya Human Rights Commission when she said that it is important to have women in decision making as a strategy of getting them into security and enhancing peace. Continued on page 5

ay in, day out it is common to hear the cries of women and children who suffer at the hands of men during conflicts in and outside their homes. Even today, tears are still rolling down the cheeks of women in clash hit areas of the country like Tana Delta, where over 100 people died in a massacre that is yet to be understood. In this conflict about 80 of the victims were women and children. Although an inquiry has been set up, as is always the case whenever there is a crisis, Kenyans are waiting with bated breath to hear whether its findings will be made public and the perpetrators punished. It is no secret that whenever there is a conflict followed by violence, as was the case in the 2007-2008 Post Elections Violence (PEV), it is the women and children who feel the full brunt of it by being sexually abused, molested, raped and defiled by the combatants and/or the security forces. And as the country braces for another General Elections, the first under the new Constitution, which was promulgated two years ago, and has major gains for women, it is their wish that the UN Resolution 1325 is adopted to ensure that all their rights are not only secured, but also promoted. In all the peace forums organised by Tuvuke Peace Initiative, of which AWC Features is a partner, the one common theme by the women is that they do not want to see a repeat of the PEV that left over 1,200 people killed and over 300,000 others displaced. The impact has been devastating to the political area but also to the economy and the social fabric of the country. It is encouraging that plans are afoot to put pen to paper and the Kenyan women are now working towards a national action plan on Security Council resolution 1325 and join the other eight African countries that have already established their national action plans. There is an urgent need for other women leaders to stand up and be counted on the urgent need to have the UN resolution put in place. Indeed, with the PEV behind us, women of Kenya should not sit on their laurels but should instead start lobbying their husbands, brothers, sons and friends to support them in the campaign for a peaceful electoral process. It is possible. Where there is a will there is a way.


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Issue Number 31 • October 2012

The Amendment of the Political Parties Act will affect women’s participation in 2013 …By Rosemary Okello

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he saying that the minority can have their say but the majority have their way aptly captures the passing of the Election (Amendment) (No 2) Bill by Members of Parliament which effectively changed section 34(8) of the election Act allowing legislators to switch parties in January next year. Initially, Section 39(8) had directed that respective aspirants must be members of political parties they intend to use during the elections three months before the list is submitted to the Registrar of Political Parties to deal with last minute party hoping which was seen as impacting on internal democracies of the political parties in Kenya. The new development however spells doom to women since most of them do not hold any major positions in major political parties. The Amendment which now allows MPs to change political parties by January, 4 2013 will come three months before the election date and thus affect majority of women who would by then have positioned themselves in the various political parties. This is because party hopping goes with money, numbers and comradeship which majority of women do not have. It is also likely to upset the party line-ups where some candidates might be forced to give way for the new-comer because of some pre-arranged memorandum of understanding and there is likelihood that women may be sacrificed at the altar of vote securing. This in the end might affect internal party democracy, which has been a major factor during the electoral process and always the biggest casualty are always women. That is why when the Political Parties Act as passed by parliament, the women of Kenya women felt that with such an Act, women’s political participation was going to be enhanced. The women are also very much aware of the importance of political parties in any elective positions and also when it comes to nomination to vie for any political posts.

Act Article 30 of the Political Parties Act, guarantees women their political rights and other salient features are in Article 91 which sets out that political parties must uphold national unity, and should also promote gender equality and equity. And if they don’t, they will be violating the constitution. The Code of Conduct which is supposed to govern the Political Parties in Kenya also sets out activities which the parties must adhere to and one of them is the rights of women which is articulated within the Electoral code of conduct. The Political Parties Act must therefore ensure that come 2013, Kenya does not go into a constitutional crisis due to non-compliant of Article 81(b) of the Constitution of Kenya 2010 (COK2010). What every Kenyan is looking for are parties build on a vision to help build a prosperous Kenya where every Kenyan counts and a political party whose values and ethos are reflected in their members and their loyalty to such a party. Such a culture when built within a political party can help in strengthening the party into an institution that upholds governance, transparency and accountability. Political Parties are bound by Article 10 of the Constitution which outlines the national values and principles of governance, because they are also institutions of governance and political parties should also be seen to belong to Kenyans and not merely MPs. This is because the political parties are now seen as custodians of political participation and women should be part of the political parties’ governance structure. Therefore even as the MPs have their say by amending the Act, there is need for political parties to also now publicly show their gender disaggregated data so that the public can know how many of their members are women and how many are men. This is when Kenyans will also have their say by deciding which political party they should vote for. Rosemary Okello is the Executive Director of African Woman and Child Features

NCIC Commissioner feted

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…By Agencies lice Nderitu, a Commissioner with the National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) has been feted by the Joan Kroc, Institute of the University of San Diego in the United States of America as a woman Peace-Maker of the Year. The award recognises her human rights and peace building work in Kenya and also in the region and for setting up the human rights education department of the Kenya National Commission. The award also recognised her for spearheading the UWIANO platform in 2010 which is also now being used as an alert system for the country during the up-coming elections in 2013. Alice who has worked as a commissioner with the NCIC which stands for human rights and cohesion said while receiving the awards; “I am a child of these two worlds and the need to bring the two together is urgent.”

Experience

With rich and varied experience in both worlds, Nderitu has been an essential leader in preventing and transforming conflict in the country. In the aftermath of Kenya’s notorious 2007-2008 post-election violence, Nderitu joined the newly created NCIC to mediate ethnic and race-related conflict and promote peaceful coexistence. As a mediator and a human rights and ethnic relations specialist for NCIC, Nderitu leads and builds mediation teams in Kenya’s conflict hotspots and most specifically displayed exceptional leadership in promoting strategies on conflict prevention in the 2010 referendum through the Uwiano Platform for Peace. Often working within traditional structures, she brings elders from conflicting ethnic groups together to dialogue and defuse communal tensions. But she also challenges traditions, pushing for women to be included in the rig-

Alice Nderitu (Right), a Commissioner with the National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) is congratulated by Cherie Blair after she was declared the woman Peace-Maker of the Year by the Joan Kroc, Institute of the University of San Diego in the United States of America idly male-dominated elder institution. Similar to her work in Kenya’s highest official levels, Nderitu is often the only woman at the peace table with the elders.

Achievements With NCIC, Nderitu has developed peace education curricula, pushed for the implementation of laws on hate speech and hate crime, and directed a nationwide television show discussing ethnic differences and conflict. She has also taken her conflict prevention lessons outside of Kenya to South Sudan in preparation for their referendum on independence. Prior to her role as an NCIC commissioner, Nderitu worked as a prison officer, a teacher and

a reporter before joining the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights in 2003 as its first staff member. There she created and headed the commission’s human rights education department and pioneered the first human rights curriculum for public officers and worked to bring the human rights agenda into prisons work. For several years, Nderitu has been training law enforcement and military officers on civil-military cooperation and the rule of law at the International Military Peace Support Training College and at the Rwanda Military Academy. She also directed the Education for Social Justice Program for Fahamu, a UK-based charity, facilitating human rights and con-

flict prevention training for civil society in Zimbabwe, Ethiopia and Uganda.

Violence “The specter of ethnic-related violence … looms in Kenya’s upcoming elections,” Nderitu says of Kenya’s presidential elections scheduled for March 2013. She watched the violence of the last election temporarily bring her two worlds together — peacebuilders and human rights practitioners — to campaign for peace. But Nderitu is determined to unite them as a stronger force to prevent conflict, not just respond when it erupts. “We do not have the luxury of waiting for a crisis,” she insists.

KEWOPA members promote peace in their constituencies …By Odhiambo Orlale

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embers of the Kenya Women Parliamentary Association (KEWOPA) have been in the forefront of promoting peace and reconciliation in their respective constituencies. Under the chairmanship of Co-operative Development Assistant Minister Jebii Kilimo, who is also the Marakwet East MP, the association has been holding forums across the country to sensitise women leaders, the civil society, youth and other members of the public on the need to learn from the chaos of the Post Elections Violence (PEV) and ensure it is not repeated next year during the General Elections. The association has been using the 22 members as their entry point to the constituencies which they represent, to promote mentorship and civic education among other programmes. Out of the 40 member cabinet,

six of the members are Cabinet Ministers and have used their influential positions to ensure that messages of peace and reconciliation are not consigned to oblivion as Kenyans prepare for the first polls under the new Constitution. The Ministers are Kitui Central MP, Mrs Charity Ngilu (Water Development); Dagoretti MP, Mrs Beth Mugo, (Public Health), Aldai MP, Dr Sally Kosgei (Agriculture), Nyeri Town MP, Ms Esther Murugi (Special Programmes), Taveta MP, Dr Naomi Shaban (Gender, Children and Social services) and Eldoret East MP, Prof Margaret Kamar (Higher Education). Others are Assistant ministers Mrs Beatrice Kones, Mrs Kilimo, Ms Wavinya Ndeti, Ms Cecily Mbarire, Mrs Elizabeth Ongoro and Bishop Margaret Wanjiru. The other members are former Justice and Constitutional affairs minister, Ms Martha Karua, former Higher Education minster, Prof Helen Sambili, Ms Millie Odhiambo, Ms Rachel Shebesh,

Dr Joyce Laboso, Ms Peris Chepchumba, Mrs Shakila Abdallah, Ms Amina Abdalla, and Ms. Maison Leshomo. The vice-chairperson is Nominated MP, Sofia Abdi Noor, who is from Garissa County in North Eastern province.

Progress So far, the association has been working closely with community leaders and has made progress in the following areas: On representative function, it has trained over 2,903 community leaders on the family bills in 22 constituencies. Over 2,200 project management committees (PMCs) have been trained in 22 constituencies to enhance transparency and accountability during implementation of Constituency Development Fund (CDF) projects. The Association has also reached out to over 5,500 men and women through pre-referendum civic education with specific focus on the gains for women in

the 22 constituencies’ wards the realisation of the new constitutional dispensation. Others who have benefited from the association’s capacitybuilding programmes are 2,000 women in civic education workshops on political and electoral processes, 1,800 opinion leaders on the Gender Based Violence framework and action plan and 19 Gender Based Violence prevention and response committees constituted.

Achievement In order to fight Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), the association has so far also trained over 1,500 women and men including community leaders on FGM and related issues including the legal framework. On the political parties function, the 22-member association has established a team of mentees that is mentored by KEWOPA Members on a continuous basis, since 2011.


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Issue Number 31 • October 2012

Amina Ahmed: Peace and tranquillity are the hallmark of her life

…By Adow Kalil

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he overcame stereotypes in a society where women are regards as children and cannot address elders or men. However, her erstwhile efforts to see peace reign has seen her accommodated into sitting with elders and in peace committees. The name Amina Hassan Ahmed may not ring a bell to majority of Kenyans outside Northern region, but in the tail end County of Mandera, it is a household name synonymous to peace brokering. Born in Ijara District 45 years ago to a father who was a career soldier at the height of Shifta war, Amina learnt the negative effects of conflicts at a young age as her father was repeatedly taken away by his duty to pursue bandits terrorising the residents. “My father on many occasion stayed away from us due to his job and the prevailing insecurity induced by the Shifta activities then. We rarely had time to be with him to our fills,” explains Amina. She adds: “At the time I was too young to comprehend, that what I was facing was the impact of insecurity, which would later be my pet subject.”

Inspired Amina got a rude introduction to the effects of conflict on children, families, societies and the wider country at tender age and decided in her mind then, that she would assist in peace-making when she grows old. However, the worst effects of conflict awaited her back at her ancestral home in Mandera where she was posted as a P2 teacher after graduating from Shanzu Teachers Training College in 1987. “At the time, the district was recovering from one of its the many inter-clan conflicts pitting the Garreh and Murulle Somali clans over pasture and grazing fields,” Amina says. “I saw many people from both clans uprooted from their original homes, many women widowed and hundreds of innocent children orphaned after hitherto friendly communities turned against each other along the unacceptable tribal lines,” Amina recalls. She says: “I saw a huge deployment of armed security personnel whose presences could not thwart the disturbances. “From the incident, I learnt that for a durable harmonious co-existence between communities to be achieved you need more than the deployment of contingents of an armed security personnel.

Dialogue “People need to dialogue and willingly embrace each other and this was missing in the government policies in security management and administrations,” notes Amina. “During the operation all armed clan militia crossed the porous border with Somali just to sneak back to cause more havoc shortly after the presence of security officers was scaled down,” she adds. “It was just a game of ping-pong between the government forces and the clan bandits,” she notes. This gap prompted the birth of Women for Peace and Development Organisation in 2000 and since then Amina has never turned back in the realisation of lasting and amicable peace in the district. “In our analyses of the conflicts together with 29 other founder members, we found that women were the most vulnerable in all forms of conflict in the region. If it is not rape, the woman was being widowed or losing a son as a result of the conflict,” she says. Amina notes that underdevelopment experienced in the region can be traced to the incessant clan skirmishes that divert a huge

chunk of the region’s budgetary allocations for development to security. A former North-Eastern PC Mohamud Swaleh concurs: “Many private investors are shunning investing in this region, particularly Mandera due to the disturbing reports of recurrent conflicts; they read on the papers or seen in TVs. No serious investor can risk put his/her money in fluid situation” she regrets.

Flare-ups Just last month more than 12 people were killed in Rhamu in Mandera Central Constituency and Banisa in Mandera West Constituency after the latest inter-clan conflict flared-up between Garre and Degodia communities. Swaleh who is Kenya’s ambassador to Saudi-Arabia once observed that arbitrating the warring clans and mobilising security apparatus consumes thousands of millions of budgetary allocations to the region at the expense of developmental projects. Amina Peace as she is popularly known by the people of Mandera County has won accolades for her relentless efforts in peace including the head of state commendation in 2005 in recognition of her contribution to peace building in the clash prone County. An Early Childhood Development (ECD) teacher, Amina says pastoralists communities in Northern Kenya from as far as Samburu to Mandera; Turkana to Moyale, Isiolo to Ijara have been battling with a myriad social-economic and political problems that makes them easily provoked at the slightest disagreements with their neighbours or incitement. “Here there is vicious circle of disasters that makes our communities impatient. When it’s not drought, it’s flash floods, if it’s not the floods it’s the animal diseases, if not the diseases, it is clan confrontations,” she explains.

Sustainability In bid to inculcating ownership of peace among the communities, Amina who is the Executive Co-Coordinator of Mandera Women for Peace and Development says they have formed 25 locational peace committees comprising of youth, elders, women, religious leaders and the local administration in all trouble spots. These are in areas of grazing and watering as well as along the borders with Somalia. The committees are trained on peace building and arbitration to help address issues likely to compromise tranquillity in their locality. The organization further started peace clubs at 20 secondary and primary schools in urban centres of Mandera District. It also trained 35 teachers as peace patrons in order to inculcate peace values to students who have been victims of occurrences of conflict especially the 2008 skirmishes that saw violence spreading to main towns. “Schools are closed when there is no stability and by introducing peace values in mind of the school children help us since they advocate the gospel of peace to their senior at home. This has real worked well even more than our expectations,” says Amina. “Since we established the peace committees at the lowest levels of the clan conflicts, resource based frictions between communities has drastically gone down and the people now have time to direct their energies on personal developments,” she observes. However, it was not easy at the beginning. Born in a community where women’s roles

Amina Hassan Ahmed, a peace crusader and the Executive Coordinator of Mandera Women for Peace and Development. She has vowed to soldier on until peace is restored in the county. Photo: Adow Kalil

are limited to childbearing and taking care of their husband’s need at the home, Amina managed to surmount the cultural stereotypes and barriers to score big in becoming a distinguished peace broker and shrewd mediator between the warring clans in the region.

Struggle On many occasions she withstood firmly and without much ado criticism, mudslinging and attempted distractions from her peace mission by conservative Somali male chauvinists, who thought her bid to involve in a peace mission was culturally unacceptable and doomed to achieve little. Hassan Haji Ahmed says: “At first we thought our daughter was running crazy when she started her peace mission. Traditionally, mediation and peace brokering has been the exclusive of old bearded men and we as the area elders felt betrayed by the local administration’s bid to bring her into some of our arbitration talks.” He adds: “We later welcomed her after we found her resourceful and hard working. Her organisation was also the lead facilitator to numerous peace meetings.”

Culture According to Amina, at the initial stages of her organisation’s peace efforts she was not welcomed by the traditional patriarchal community leaders. In many instances, she was intimidated by men who refused to admit her into the inter-clan peace dialogue for the simple reason that she was a woman, who by custom had nothing to offer adding that she was never discouraged since she was committed to seeing an end to perennial clan skirmishes in her district and between the communities. Today many in the remote border County embrace Amina for her unselfish bravery to ensure a peaceful co-existence between rival clans came into a reality. The former pupil of St George’s Primary

“People need to dialogue and willingly embrace each other because this is missing in the current initiatives driven by the government to restore security" — Amina Hassan Ahmed

School in Ruiru observes that her lowest time in her peace activities was during the deadly inter-clan skirmishes in Wajir in 2000 where she witnessed an infant clinging to his mother who had been killed oblivious of her death. The conflict then swept an entire village. Also etched in her mind is the 2008 clan fight between Garreh and Murulle Somali clans in Mandera District. “At the time, trouble permeated into the urban centres such as Mandera town, unlike other preceded conflicts which largely concentrated on the far-flung villages. Many houses and business premises in the town were torched down by the rival clan youths,” she says.

Politics Amina notes that most of the conflicts in the region are politically instigated but it is always blamed on disputes over grazing fields and watering points. “Every clan leader in the Northern region wants to protect their perceived ancestral lands for their respective ‘communities’ and they use any means available to drive others out. “However, due to our efforts majority of pastoralists’ are now learning their leaders selfish tricks of manipulating them against each other to their disadvantage,” the peace broker says.

Commitment Mandera Women for Peace and Development which started as a community based organisation is now registered as regional organisation Horn of Africa Women Empowerment Network-Kenya (HAWENKA) to champion for peace and dialogue. This was after its peace efforts were recognised regionally. Amina was born in 1966 in a tiny village in Ijara District; to a family of three brothers and three sisters. She joined St. George’s Primary School in Ruiru, Juja Constituency in 1973, where she did her CPE and later joined Kikuyu Township Secondary School for forms one and two. She would later transfer and eventually did her “A” level examinations at North-Eastern Provincial Girls’ Secondary School 1983. She graduated this year from a university in Tanzania, with Bachelor of Arts in Development Studies.


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Issue Number 31 • October 2012

Call for women to be included in peace processes …By Faith Muiruri

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s Kenyans join the rest of the world in marking 12 years after the unanimous adoption of the United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325 this month, women in the country are still grappling with very low numbers of representation in leadership positions. This is despite the existence of international policies that explicitly call for women’s involvement in decision making at national and international levels. The Government has ratified and is a signatory to key gender equality and human rights international instruments. Key among them include: • The Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (1979); • The African Charter on Human and People’s Rights (1981); • The Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (2003); • The United Nations Security Council Resolutions 1325 and 1820 on women, peace and security (2000) The United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security underscores the crucial role that women play in the prevention and resolution of conflicts, peace negotiations, peace-building, peacekeeping, repatriation, humanitarian response and in post-conflict reconciliation and reconstruction. The resolution particularly emphasises the importance of women’s equal participation and full involvement in all peace and reconciliation efforts.

Exclusion However, women in the country remain largely excluded from peace and security processes despite their efforts to preserve social order, educate for peace at the grassroots and advocate for the equitable distribution of resources at the national level. According to Betty Murungi, a gender and conflict expert, margin-

alization continues to hinder efforts to build sustainable peace and stable communities in the country. “Women’s rights are not overtly addressed, while their recommendations are excluded from final agreements,” said Murungi during a high level conference on Women, Peace and Security held in Nairobi. She cited the inclusion of only two women in the Kofi Annan peace talks in 2008 after violence rocked the country following the disputed presidential poll, both of whom were affiliated to political party systems. She said that women voices were missing in the negotiating table despite the fact that they bore the highest brunt in the conflict.

Statistics Director General, United Nations office in Nairobi Sahle-Work Zewde shared similar concerns and said the representation of women in formal peace processes and negotiations remain unacceptably low. She noted that this is despite the fact that they are the hardest hit in times of crisis and estimated that 1,500 women were raped and infected with HIV during the post-election violence of 2007. She revealed that a study conducted by UN Women in 2009 of 21 major peace processes since 1992 showed that women participation is strikingly low. • Only 2.4 per cent of signatories of peace agreements were women; • No woman has been appointed chief or lead mediator in UN sponsored peace talks and • Women’s participation in negotiation’s delegation only averaged a mere 5.9 per cent. “Yet we are fully aware of the role women play in peace-building and more importantly know that their participation remains imperative and critical to ensure that their interests and needs are reflected and addressed,” Zewde noted. Zewde said that women’s contribution to peace-building is vital as they add immense value to peace processes.

“We can learn from countries that have made remarkable strides in including women in peace processes and have made a difference. Within the African continent, we saw the role women played in Burundi, Liberia, Sierra Leone and even in Somalia where women created the “sixth clan” to influence the male dominated peace process in Djibouti in 2000,” observed Zewde. She added: “Women will not only speak about the ‘so-called’ women’s issues, but will speak on behalf of the voiceless, bringing the needs of the silent majority and critical mass to the table which until now has been dominated by men.” In a keynote address, Zewde said that the inclusion of women helps to develop sustainable peace which has an impact politically, socially and economically. “The inclusion of women in peace processes should never be an option; it is a requirement and a right. It is impossible to achieve ever lasting peace and security in a nation, if women are not at that table as they represent over half of the population,” she affirmed. Zewde reiterated that men must ensure that women are at the table and that women’s rights are meaningfully addressed and included in peace agreements, conflict management, judicial reforms, security sector, in service provisions and in truth and reconciliation processes.

Achievements However, Zewde noted that Kenya had made remarkable achievements and cited; • The inclusion of provisions of the resolutions in the new constitution with the two thirds principle, affirmative action and the bill of rights; • Governments Blueprint, Vision 2030; • Development of the Kenya National Action Plan on UNSCR 1325 which is being spearheaded by the National Commission on Gender and Development, through the support of UN Women and the Government of Finland; • Kenya continues to show commitment to the provisions of UNSCR

1325 and this is demonstrated by signing the Declaration on SGBV in Kampala last year.

Disparities However, Winfred Lichuma, chairperson of National Gender and Equality Commission in- Top: Mary Balikungeri, the Director and sisted that much still needs to be Founder of Rwanda’s Women Network stresses a point during the High Level done. Conference on Women, Peace and She noted that women have Security jointly organized by UN Women been excluded from the very structures and mechanisms that and the Embassy of Finland to discuss make decisions on issues affect- the implementation of Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325. ing them and their security. Below: Sahle-Work Zewde who is the “The country has done poorly in terms of women representation Director General of the United Nations office in Nairobi. in decision making levels with Photos: Kenyan Woman Correspondent the number of women in Parliament currently, translating to a mere nine per cent compared to Zebib Kavuma, UN Women Country countries such as Rwanda which has Director who noted that very little has the highest representation of women been done to address the injustices comin Parliament at 56 per cent,” Lichuma mitted during the violence that erupted noted. after the 2007 General Elections. However, she reiterated that all is “The violence and horror that ravnot lost for Kenyan women as the Con- aged the country in 2007-2008 wrought stitution in Article 27 (8) now provides negative psychological, emotional, that not more than two thirds of mem- physical and economic impact on all bers in elective and appointive bodies Kenyans and more specifically on Keshall be of the same gender. nyan women,” Kavuma noted adding At the same time, Lichuma chal- that it has also not been addressed. lenged women to push for the realisation of the principle since no right can be granted on a silver platter. She observed that the country is “The Constitution is just a legal preparing for another General Election framework and cannot guarantee us and called for implementation of the seats. Women need to push for the re- National Action Plan on UNSCR 1325 alisation of the gender principle as en- which seeks to ensure the inclusion of shrined in the Constitution as no right women in peace keeping and conflict can be realised on a silver platter,” she prevention processes. noted. Kavuma underscored the need to She said that many women suffered increase gender awareness on conduring the 2007-2008 post-election flict prevention processes and include violence and thus the need for the gov- women in peace negotiations, ensure ernment to put adequate measures to the protection of women and chilavert similar incidents. dren from sexual and gender based At the same time she noted that the violence, and importantly to respond Government is yet to prosecute per- to the needs of women refugees and petrators of the post election violence. internally displaced persons in Kenya “Although some of the suspects are fac- ahead of the elections. ing trial at the ICC, very little has been She called for the creation and done at the local level to bring justice to strengthening of accountability mechathe victims. nisms to prevent the suffering of women Her sentiments were echoed by at the hands of perpetrators of violence.

Action plan


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Issue Number 31 • October 2012

High expectations loom in the air Kenyan women security concerns to be addressed through the national Action Plan

…By Faith Muiruri

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he government has developed a National Action Plan (NAP) to guide in the implementation of United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325. The action plan is being spearheaded by the National Gender and Equality Commission, through the support of UN Women and the Government of Finland. The plan which is set to be launched soon, will be rolled out in 2013 to help ensure the inclusion and equal participation of women in peace keeping and conflict prevention at the local level. According to the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Development, Ambassador Franklin Espila, the action plan is in compliance with Resolution 1325 and seeks to ensure that women participate in formal decision making structures and increase their representation in ongoing peace processes. The UNSCR 1325 on Women, Peace and Security underscores the crucial role that women play in the prevention and resolution of conflicts, peace negotiations, peace-building, peacekeeping, repatriation, humanitarian response and in post-conflict reconciliation and reconstruction.

Approach Espila said the National Action Plan will adopt a multi-dimensional and multi-sectoral approach to help bridge the gender gap in peace building initiatives. He said this when addressing a high level meeting on women, peace and security in Nairobi organised by the United Nations Women and the Equality and Gender Commission with support of the Government of Finland. He

noted that the National Action Plan is premised on a theme dubbed “To involve women is to sustain peace” and aims at increasing the participation of women in decision making levels, institutions and mechanism for the prevention and resolution of conflicts. Espila said that the action plan also seeks to prevent violation of women’s rights by mainstreaming a gender perspective in all processes of conflict prevention, resolution and peace building. “The adoption of the National Action Plan will pave way for the effective and timely participation of women in recovery programs including disarmament processes,” Espila observed.

Relevance He said that integration of a gender perspective in ongoing peace processes is vital if peace and development has to be achieved. “The Constitution has opened space for women to ascertain the protection of their rights and equal participation at all levels of governance including peace building initiatives,” he noted. However, Espila reiterated that the country is faced with challenges on how to achieve the two thirds gender principle. “I, therefore, call on Kenyans to register in large numbers and to also campaign and vote for women in the elections to help bridge the gender gap. This will ensure that women concerns on security are addressed at high levels of participation,” he stressed.

Challenges At the same time, he said women concerns on security can only be addressed if all Kenyans, donors and civil society organisations renew their commitment and provide resources for the implementation of the action plan. His sentiments were echoed by

Participants follow keenly during a high level conference on Women, Peace and Security at KICC to discuss the implementation of Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325. Below: Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Development, Ambassador Franklin Espila. Photo: Kenyan Woman Correspondent Betty Murungi, a gender and conflict expert who says that lack of resources continues to impede the implementation of Resolution 1325 in the country. Murungi noted that the situation has been compounded by lack of political will and the absence of a clear line of responsibility in the National Action Plan. She said the National Action Plan will act as an impetus for women who are currently seeking justice against violations and atrocities committed against them and enable women to participate in governance and conflict resolution mechanisms. Chairperson of National Gender and Equality Commission Winfred Lichuma said that the adoption of the action plan will ensure women actively participate in the ongoing peace building initiatives. She at the same time called on the Government to allocate resources towards the implementation of the action plan to help raise the visibility of women engaged in peace building and security processes. Commissioner Lichuma said the implementation of peace building initiatives will now take a coordinated approach to avoid duplication of efforts and a disjointed process that has little

impact. “We must try to consolidate ongoing peace initiatives to avoid fragmentation. This will help us adopt a unified approach in all the peace issues,” Lichuma noted. She said that the National Action Plan will be simplified and women sensitised on existing legislations on Resolution 1325 to help enhance their participation in respective peace committees. At the same time, Lichuma cautioned that unless the National Action Plan enjoys political goodwill, women may never enjoy it. She intimated that the Commission is currently lobbying Office of the President to house the Action plan as this will help marshal the required political support. “We need to identify ways through which we can capture the political good will. Without the political will, we can have a good document but may never enjoy it,” she reiterated. The Commission is waiting for the steering committee to validate the plan. “Once it is validated, the Action Plan will be ready for use,” she noted. The Commission will monitor and evaluate progress made in the implementation process. According to Zebib Kavuma, UN

women Country Director Kenya will become the ninth African country to develop a National Action Plan on implementing UNSCR 1325. “This plan, when it is finally released, will consist of Kenya’s strategy, specific goals and actions that must be taken in order to guarantee full and equal participation of women in all peace and security initiatives,” Kavuma noted. She said that the protection of women, girls and boys, from sexual and gender based violence during and after conflict is highly pegged on inclusion of women in peace and security initiatives and in post conflict recovery processes. The National Action Plan, Kavuma noted, will help create and strengthen accountability mechanisms to prevent the suffering of women at the hands of perpetrators of violence. “Once the National Action Plan is in place, women needs in peace building efforts, especially in post conflict contexts will be addressed adequately,” she noted.

Africa and other war torn countries come together to support Kenya in ratifying resolution 1325 Continued from page 1

“Lack of women in decision making at high level is likely to affect the way security is handled,” noted Kweheria. “Resolution 1325 should be implemented to ensure that women’s voices are heard at the highest level,” Kweheria reiterated. She added: “When discussing security issues, people sitting around the tables should be at least 50 per cent women.” Kweheria observed that any security problem in Kenya would impact the whole region. This was seen in the post-election violence of 2007-2008 when Kenya was in turmoil and the spill over effect could be felt across the East Africa region. The National Gender and Equality Commission is working to negotiate with political parties to offer women active positions that will give them visibility and ensure that even if the elections do not meet the scope, then many women will be nominated to meet the target. Amila Ward from Liberia noted that the best solution for Kenya is that the women should not just sit there if they want to succeed in Resolution 1325. “Exert pressure and organise yourselves as you cannot succeed if you are divided,” Ward advised. She added: “Women must be neutral and confident and they will then be able to succeed on this.”

Lillian Bwire of Rural Women Peace Link noted that Resolution 1325 in conflict prevention has made tremendous inroads because women have supported conflict resolution and peace processes. “If women stand up and go for it somebody will listen to them and bring their agenda on board,” observed Bwire. She noted that Rural Women Peace Link has been interpreting the resolution to government functionaries such as chiefs and District Commissioners to allow women participate in security meetings. They have also involved community elders and traditional spiritual leaders. “Involving community leaders, who are the custodians of culture has helped because the women have made sure they have bought into their agenda,” said Bwire. She noted: “The leaders and spiritual leaders help in ensuring quick acceptance and dissemination of information to the community.”

Scenario

According to Yasmin Jusu Sherrif from Sierra Leone, women around the world and in Africa were already living 1325 before it was adopted in 2000. “The women of West Africa noticed the transnational nature of conflict. It was there across Sierra Leone, Gambia, Guinea, Liberia and Ivory Coast,” said Sherrif, a member of the Mano River Women Peace Link. “These countries were linked with conflict and one could

not withhold peace without the other taking it.” Sherrif reiterated that conflict is messy and in protecting women there was need to look at all the faces.

Inclusion

“Participation and prevention are the best forms of protection. Women contribute by helping other women in conflict into safety by moving them out of danger,” Sherrif observed. She noted that women work for peace and security beyond their natural borders and this is why the women of West Africa, coming from countries through which Mano River traverses came together to ensure that peace came to the region. Coming together has been seen in Rwanda where women have decided to move post genocide. Rwanda today tops the world with having the highest number of women in Parliament after President Paul Kagame made a conscious effort to empower women.

According to Mary Balikinge of Rwanda Women Network, women must be assertive so their capacity is seen to be growing. However, she noted that the capacity to influence is still lacking. “Women need to be strategic as they engage in every context in a way they will be practical and not networking as usual,” said Balikinge.

Continuous process

She reiterated that Resolution 1325 is an ongoing process that must taken seriously and women must engage with it. “Have networks that will ensure women take action when it is required and create space that will allow them to engage at national level,” observed Balikinge. The same thoughts were echoed by Selline Korir of Rural Women Peace Link who noted that women must show solidarity for women in conflict by creating a mass movement that cannot be ignored. “Women have to be the voice

Fact files on Women Peace and security in Kenya • Women constitute slightly more than 50 per cent of the Kenyan population • Twenty-five per cent of households are headed by women • Violence against women takes many forms namely psychological and physical, verbal and economic • One in three women, or up to one billion women have been beaten coerced into sex, or otherwise abused in their lifetime • Among women aged between 14 and 14 acts of violence cause more death and disability than cancer, malaria, traffic accidents and war combined

of those who are unable to speak because they are in conflict,” reiterated Korir. She noted: “A conflict in any country is a conflict for the whole continent.” Ruth Ochieng of ISIS-Women’s International Cross Cultural Exchange said Uganda succeeded in Resolution 1325 because the women’s movement was connected. She stressed that women must connect with embassies because they can open doors in a diplomatic way.

Advocacy

Amila Ward of Mano River Women Peace Link Liberia said engaging Resolution 1325 is important and civil society organisations need to engage parliamentarians so that they can understand what it is all about. “Grassroots women and men must be engaged. Men should be gender sensitised to be part of this process,” noted Ward. She added: Give the process a male face so you are able to work as a team and have the men educating women.” According to Korir, women are not in the business of peace building because it is a job, they are in it because it is a responsibility. Sherrif noted that it was important women participated in elections because they can be voters, candidates or even observes. “This is important in terms of protecting women’s rights,” she said.


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Issue Number 31 • October 2012

For peace and security, women must be represented in negotiating tables

…By Henry Kahara

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two day United Nations Women’s meeting at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre (KICC) ended in high hopes that Kenya will have the National Action Plan on Security Council Resolution 1325 launched before the end of the year. The high level meeting was held in recognition of Resolution 1325 which underscores the importance of increasing women’s participation and representation in conflict resolution, peace negotiation and peace building. The UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security was adopted on October 31, 2000. Its main objective is to enhance women’s role in decision making capacities with regard to conflict prevention, resolution and peace building. It also aims to significantly improve the realisation and protection of human rights and security of women and girls. According to Betty Murungi, a Gender and Conflict expert, although Kenya has not been a violence prone country, sporadic incidents of violence have been witnessed during electioneering period with the worst case being experienced in 2007.

Reforms “We are pushing for the resolution to be implemented because when a conflict erupts majority of those affected and victimised are women and children, who are forced out of their homes, lose their livelihoods and endure atrocities which include physiological and sexual violence,” she said. Murungi urged women to take advantage of the reforms being spearheaded by the Government in order to increase their numbers in leadership positions to have their needs addressed exhaustively. Murungi said that violence affects all women and if Resolution 1325 is operationalised then more women will be able to participate in governance. “Women have a common denominator-gender based violence. In times of crisis, they bear the highest brunt and that is the reason why they need to be included in peace committees,” she noted.

Culture Speaking at the same function, the National Coordinator Steering Committee on Peace Building and Conflict Management S K Maina said that for long a time Kenya was regarded as an island of peace. “We were wrong, we thought conflict only exists in pastoralist communities only to find out that conflict is here with us,” noted Maina. He observed that loss of culture has left women and children more vulnerable as during olden days it was a taboo for one to kill a woman or a child among African communities. “We need to find out where we lost our steps. We need to trace them so that we can come back to the right path,” reiterated Maina. According to National Gender and Equality Commission Chairperson Winfred Lichuma, Kenya has done poorly in women political representation.

Attentive: Women listen keenly to a key note address by Elisabeth Rehn, an Independent expert on Peace Building and Crisis Management with a focus on UNSCR 1325 and former Minister of Defence and Member of Parliament in Finland. Inset Elisabeth Rehn “We now have a privilege of increasing the number of women representation courtesy of the new Constitution but we are not yet there,” Lichuma said. She added: “Our Constitution demands a third representation of one gender although it lacks a mechanism to deliver.” Lichuma observed that women need somebody who will represent their issues and not just a female representative. “We don’t want women who are in decision making offices just for the sake of representing their political parties. We need women who are representing women of Kenya,” she pointed out. In 2008, only two women participated in the mediation talks spearheaded by former UN secretary General Kofi Annan to end violence sparked by a disputed Presidential poll. Narc Kenya leader Martha Karua was selected by President Mwai Kibaki’s Party of National Unity (PNU) while Dr. Sally Kosgei was chosen by the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) which sponsored Prime Minister Raila Odinga.

The two presidential contenders — Kibaki and Odinga —were main rivals in the 2007 elections in whose results violence degenerated and left more than 1,200 dead and more than 350,000 displaced.

Security The mediation which was as a result of the crisis which erupted following the announcement of the 2007 presidential election led to the formation of Grand Coalition Government in 2008. Lichuma further urged the Government to ensure that women aspirants are provided with adequate security as majority complain of being harassed while campaigning. “We also want the Government to assure us that they will prosecute postelection perpetrators so that we don’t have a repeat of the same,” she noted. Elisabeth Rehn, a former Minister of Equality Affairs and Member of Parliament in Finland encouraged women to take advantage of the current Constitution for it is equality friendly. “This is the right moment for Kenyan women to arise, you need to work together. If women in Finland had not

been working together they couldn’t have arrived where they have reached today,” advised Rehn. Gender, Children and Social Development acting Permanent Secretary Ambassador Frankline Espila noted that women have been actively involved in peace building despite the fact that they are not recognised.

Recognition Espila warned politicians against politicising Resolution 1325 saying that issues of national importance have in the past taken a political angle. “For now our constitution has opened an opportunity for women and their issues need to be addressed highly, because involving women is equivalent to maintaining peace,” said Espila. In the same sentiments, Najia Zewari, a member of High Peace Council in Afghanistan advised women not

“Women have gender based violence as their common denominator. In times of crisis, they bear the highest brunt and that is the reason why they need to be included in peace committees” — Betty Murungi, lawyer, Gender and Conflict expert

to give up as it takes time to register remarkable achievements. “Women must be included in the decision making table to be able to address their concerns adequately,” Zewari noted. These views were echoed by Zebib Kavuma, UN Women Country Director when she said that the country will only be able to protect women and girls from sexual and gender based violence during and after conflict when women are fully included in peace and security initiatives and in post conflict recovery processes. “Create and strengthen accountability mechanisms to prevent the suffering of women at the hands of perpetrators of violence; and meet the needs of women in peace building efforts, especially in post conflict contexts,” Kavuma said. The forum which was convened by UN Women in collaboration with the Embassy of Finland in Kenya and the National Gender and Equality Commission is likely to be of great value and use to Kenya as it seeks to become the ninth African country to develop a National Action Plan on implementing UNSCR 1325.


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Issue Number 31 • October 2012

Number in parity can work if rule of law is followed T …By Faith Muiruri

he Kenya Human Rights Commission is strongly opposed to plans to amend the Constitution to give effect to Articles 27 (8) and 81 (b) which require that not more than two thirds of those elected in parliament shall be of the same gender. Although the proposed amendments are meant to achieve gender parity in the next General Elections, the human rights body, however, feels that any changes in the Constitution are bound to subvert the popular will and expose the supreme law to further mutilations. In a terse statement, the human rights body says changing the Constitution just two years after promulgation would reverse gains already enshrined in the supreme law. The commission argues that this will set a bad precedent of resorting too quickly to constitutional amendment whenever there is a challenge. “Gender issues are also likely to be relegated to the periphery and addressed in a simplistic manner, and thus rob women of the gains outlined in the Constitution,” warns the statement. The human rights body cites the old Constitution which was subjected to 27 amendments in just 40 years with most regressive as early as 1964 and 1966, adding that this should not be repeated.

Constitution “The Constitution 2010 is not flawless and can be amended but the timing now is not strategic,” reads the statement in part. The chairperson of National Gender and Equality Commission Winfred Lichuma however supports the proposed constitutional amendment, saying the two thirds gender rule is a good provision but it lacks the mechanism to deliver. “There is a proposal to amend the constitution to give us a process on how we get to realize the two thirds representation at elective position levels,” she explains during a high level conference on Women, Peace and Security. However, the human rights body underscores the need to explore other options adding that the Constitution provides for legislative and administrative mechanisms to resolve any constitutional matters. Article 81 as read with Article 27 has given Parliament a blank cheque to design an electoral system driven by gender sensitive considerations. The Constitution has already done its bit by providing both the principle and provided some constitutional quotas on gender (nominated and special seats; zebra lists). The Constitution (and courts) tasks the details of the mechanism of implementing the two thirds gender

rule to legislative and administrative means. The Human Right Commission is now rallying support towards the amendment of the Elections Act and the Political Parties Act to provide for the realization of the two thirds gender rule. According to the human rights body, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) must also develop rules that facilitate the implementation of the two thirds rule in the forthcoming General Elections. The commission says that the Political Parties Act must be amended to ensure that party nomination lists reflect 50 per cent gender balance within each county and for the total number of counties i.e. 145 male and 145 female nominees for the 290 elective seats.

Elections Act The Human Rights Commission further proposes that the Elections Act be amended to ensure that every political party fields a governor and running mate of opposite genders and that 50percent of governor nominees for each party must be women. “This means every party field 23 men and 22 women for governor on March 4, 2013. The above amendment should apply to county assemblies too so that each party ensures that its final lists of nominees has 50 percent male and 50 percent female candidates for the total number of wards in each County.” The Commission further wants the Elections Act to give the electoral body powers to reject noncompliant nomination lists. It argues that the adoption of the proposals would guarantee the realisation of the two thirds gender rule and hopefully surpass the 18 percent short fall anticipated in the National Assembly; seven per cent in Senate and the possible 33 per cent short fall in County Assembly. “If the proposals are adopted, then the two thirds gender rule will be realised without bloating the three houses and passing on a huge financial burden on tax payers. The Commission says the proposal will address the problem of gender representation in a strategic and sustainable manner that does not result in voters feeling that women cost them too much The Constitution provides for 290 elected MPs and 47 women picked from counties, adding up to

337. To meet the gender principle, the country must elect at least 117 women or men. If the mark is not met, then the new arrangement captured in the proposed amendment requires that political parties gives names of the disadvantaged gender from a list to comply with the Constitution. Additional seats would then be created specifically to fill in the gender gaps after elections and any shortfall would see an increase in house seats by the same margin.

Implications This means that the number of MPs and Senators in the next parliament could shoot up beyond the numbers provided for in the Constitution and would be determined after elections. Winnie Lichuma who is chairperson Sitting MPs should thus of the National Gender and Equality support the proposals as they Commission. Below: Atsango Chesoni, do not threaten in anyway their the chairperson of the Kenya Human re-election chances. “There are Rights Commission 80 additional seats, that is 145 seats for men in National Assembly and 46 new seats for mission, however, feels that there is men as governor or running mate; and 23 new seats for men as no cause for alarm since there are Senators. This means all men in the 80 new seats in the National Astenth Parliament can still hold elec- sembly as well as the fact that many tive seats in the National Assembly incumbents have expressed interest or Senate as Governors or deputy in positions of Senator, Governor and deputy governor. governor,” adds statement. Another challenge may arise In addition, the proposed amendments compel political par- from the fact that most women ties to shun tokenism in recruit- who have political ambitions and ment of female members and in leadership capabilities, may shy determining which women candi- away from elective seats as they have in the past been elbowed out dates to field. Nomination processes have in by the patriarchal violent way in the past been abused by leaders in which elections are held and the political parties who appoint their lack of support from political parfriends, associates and allies, thus ties, who view them as a liability. denying deserving women who The proposed formula thus makes competent women an asset to the work with the communities. Further, the amendments if ad- party. Other concerns are pegged opted would compel political parties to encourage female participation on fears that men may end up beand the active participants would ing the under-represented gender. help prevent gender based violence However the human rights body dispels their fears and says that at elections. these formulae will only offer many female candidates (50 per cent) but The Commission says the pro- will not instantaneously address the posals would help transform Ke- patriarchal attitudes with which nya’s electoral system from being most Kenyans vote. However, it will patriarchal and individual driven to be watered down by party loyalensuring that party manifesto and ties resulting in a minimum of one third women representation that is popularity are what sells. The proposals are likely to be elective. Nomination is a constitutional rejected by male MPs who perceive them as a threat to their political quota that is already in Constitution ambitions. The Human Rights Com- 2010 in the form of the 47 women representative seats in the National Assembly; zebra lists and the two thirds rule itself. two years after the

Challenges

“Amendments just promulgation of the Constitution would reverse gains already enshrined in the supreme law. Gender issues will also be relegated to the periphery and addressed in a simplistic manner.” — Kenya National Human Rights Commission

Nominations The Commission says that further constitutional quotas should be avoided, as this will require constitutional amendment or even a referendum. The human rights body says nominations present numerous challenges that range from the fact they best work when they are ap-

plied to less populous marginalised groups; Women make up over 50 per cent of the population; having too many of them nominated not elected reverses the intended gains of addressing gender needs strategically. Nomination takes a practical gender needs approach Whose agenda do the nominated pursue? That of those who nominated them or that of ordinary women voters who did not vote for them? Who nominates? 47 women representatives in the Constitution are elected, thus clearly owned and answerable to voters. The Constitution has deliberately kept the number of nominated to a minimum and must be in line with Chapter six. This avoids the question of ‘Who are the nominated answerable to?’ Getting the one third number of women through nomination will result in a bloated and expensive government; voters will begin to see women leaders as a financial burden rather than leaders equal to male leaders. This thus calls for practical gender needs as opposed to strategic gender needs approach. Legislative and administrative measures can deliver the two thirds gender principle in a manner that ensures that under-represented gender is always elected and not nominated.


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Issue Number 31 • October 2012

Peace and security must be everyone’s business …By Duncan Mboyah

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s General Election approaches, the population, investors and donors get uneasy with the developments following the 2007 post-election violence that led to the deaths of many people and destruction of property worth billions of shillings. At the moment Kenyans are busy talking about the outcome of the coming elections that are due in March 2013 as a majority recount images that they saw and would hate to see again in the coming electioneering period. According to Yvette Chesson, Establishment Coordinator of the Angie Brooks International Centre, a nongovernmental organisation promoting women’s empowerment, it is women who hold peace at hand and must go out through coalitions to call for peaceful elections. “There is need to form dynamic processes between women and youth against electoral violence as the polls approach,” Chesson said during a high level conference on women, peace and security in Nairobi.

Credibility A lead advocate of peace in Liberia and Senegal during recent national elections, Chesson noted that from experience in Africa, scheduled elections also means scheduled violence, a habit that must be addressed before the electioneering period begins through awareness creation. She told the delegates that Kenya comes first before politics adding that all women leaders must have credibility to be able to address peace and security

issues before members of the public. “We succeeded in Liberia because the public found us credible and trusted. This made our work easier and everyone accepted our proposals,” she said. Chesson told women leaders to engage the children, youths and media as well as religious and traditional leaders by giving them tools to use in preaching peace during elections. She warned that failure to engage the media may lead to irresponsible journalism that may end up dividing the country into political party blocks.

Restraint “The media must be told to tone down some of their writings and broadcasts that are quoted from irresponsible political leaders,” she adviced. She suggested that a memorandum of understanding be set up and signed by all political party representatives and polling agents to ensure that peace and security is maintained during the electioneering period. Chesson warned women not to rely on the government to create peace and security for them adding that peace is owned by the people and it is the people who must see the value of maintaining peace and secu-

rity at all times. “Our core role is having a peaceful and healthy future generation as opposed to having internal displaced persons dotted in most parts of the country,” she said.

Caution She warned the youth to avoid politicians who use them to cause terror against their opponents adding that the same politicians have their children studying abroad. Chesson noted that helping put Kenya on fire would not help any of the youth but instead they should engage political class on the real issues affecting them rather than be misused to cause chaos and mayhem amongst fellow citizens. “Why live in conflict when the politicians’ children are going to school?” she posed to the participants who included women leaders drawn from all parts of the country.

Convenor In 2009, Chesson was the Manager of the International Women’s Colloquium, the largest gathering of women leaders in the world, which was co-convened by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia and President Tarja Halonen of Finland. The

“Our core role is having a peaceful and healthy future generation as opposed to having internally displaced persons in most parts of the Country.” — Yvette Chesson, establishment Coordinator of the Angie Brooks International Centre

Yvette Chesson, the establishment Coordinator of the Angie Brooks International Centre, a Non-Governmental Organisation promoting women’s empowerment in Liberia. Photo: Kenyan Woman Correspondent

meeting was attended by over 2,000 women from all walks of life. From 2006-2008, Chesson was Elections Judge for the State of Maryland, and Chief Elections Judge. She was also concurrently the Senior Domestic Relations Attorney for the Legal Aid Bureau in Maryland, USA. She was an attorney with the Bureau for nearly 20 years.

Mentor She has been an advocate for Liberia for more than 20 years in the United States and abroad at the White House, US Congress, ECOWAS, UN Security Council, all branches of Liberian Government and many Liberian communities worldwide. Today, Chesson spends her time instilling confidence and introduc-

ing training initiatives to promote life skills for disadvantaged girls around Monrovia. Through her effort they started a massive movement of professional Liberians across the United States to stop the war in Liberia by influencing the US government, ECOWAS and the United Nations. Chesson, a lawyer by profession obtained a Juris doctorate law degree with honours from the North Carolina Central University (NCCU) School of Law. She is a recipient of several awards and certification. She is a Counsellor-at-law, member of several bars including the United States Supreme Court Bar and professional associations such as the Association of Female Lawyers of Liberia (AFELL).

Speaking in one language, women sell the peace agenda

…By Ben Oroko

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s women from various counties in the country declare their candidatures for the position of women Representative seat and other political positions provided for in the new constitutional dispensation, their counterparts from Nyamira and Bomet Counties are busy preaching peace. The women leaders have come out selling peace messages to the communities residing along the Borabu/ Sotik common border to avert a repeat of post-election violence that was witnessed in the region in 2007-2008 and where people lost their lives and properties. Working under the auspices of Sotik/Borabu Women Peace Drive, the women have vowed never again shall communities along the common border go into war in the name of divergent political ideologies and political party affiliations.

Initiative Speaking at a Kisii hotel during a two-day workshop for 60 women from the two counties, the organisation’s project coordinator, Sally Kirui said the peace initiative was informed by the 2007-2008 post-election violence which rocked the Borabu/Sotik common border, leading to loss of innocent lives and property worth millions of shillings. “When communities go into war, it is women and children who suffer the

consequences of the conflicts and this is the reason why we have come out as women and mothers to preach peace and co-existence among communities living along the Borabu/Sotik common border as the country gears for the elections and the period after the polls,” stated Kirui. She noted that women from both sides of the common border have come from far as neighbours and they cannot afford selfish political competition among politicians from the two ethnic communities to divide residents in the region and fan ethnic clashes every electioneering period. Flanked by the organisation’s project officer, Rebecca Nyaanga, Kirui warned politicians from both sides of the common border against inciting their communities into war during the political campaigns. She

urged them to instead conduct peaceful campaigns and strive to unite the people. “Women from the two sides of the Borabu/Sotik common border will never again allow or entertain politicians who incite their communities against each other in the name of political competition, leading to shedding of innocent blood of women and children who are vulnerable,” warned Kirui. Nyaanga called on women from both sides of the common border to stand up to be counted in the search for peace, saying, lack of tranquility impacts negatively on women and children. “Peace and co-existence among communities living along the Borabu/Sotik common border is crucial to women and children, since

these are vulnerable members of the society who innocently suffer the consequences of conflicts, especially political conflicts experienced during election violence,” observed Nyaanga. She noted that women contribute immensely to the country’s socio-economic development and the moment they are exposed to insecurity and conflict, the country suffers a major setback in development and investment.

Violence Speaking to Kenyan Woman after the workshop Mary Orwenyo, chairperson Maendeleo Ya Wanawake Organization (MYWO) Nyamira County, concurred that women and children are vulnerable whenever there are political conflicts in the society or country.

“When communities go into war, it is women and children who suffer the consequences of the conflicts and this is the reason why we have come out as women and mothers to preach peace and co-existence among communities living along the Borabu/Sotik common border as the country gears for the elections and the period after the polls.” — Mrs Sally, Kirui Sotik/Borabu Women Peace Drive co-ordinator

Orwenyo who is eyeing Nyamira County Women Representative’s seat in the forthcoming General Election decried campaign violence incidents targeting women leaders aspiring for various political positions. She also decried insecurity posed by cross-border cattle rustling involving the two communities. “This situation could degenerate into electoral violence targeting political women aspirants who are vulnerable to electoral violence,” Orwenyo noted. Cross-border cattle rustling along the Borabu/Sotik common border remains a serious security and development issue. Orwenyo expressed fears that if the current insecurity situation along the border is not checked, it will scare women aspirants from campaigning along the border as well as for other political positions in the County. “Our two counties — Nyamira and Bomet — have a common history since they have for many decades experienced incidents of perennial insecurity brought about by cross-border cattle rustling and chaos whenever we approach elections,” observed Orwenyo. She added: “Such a move may pose a serious security threat to women aspirants who fear for their security during electioneering period.” Orwenyo noted that will be disappointing for potential women aspirants along the borders of the two counties to withdraw their candidatures for various political positions provided for in the Constitution due to insecurity.


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Issue Number 31 • October 2012

Gender disparity in decision making worrying

…By Duncan Mboya

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t is a human right for women to have equal voice over decisions that affect them by demonstrating their abilities and unique contributions in leadership roles. The United Nations Development Programme Director for Gender Dr Winnie Byanyima noted that Kenya, like the other countries of the region is inching forward towards equality of women and men in decision making. She added that from research done elsewhere, women’s participation in political decision-making bodies has been shown to improve the quality of governance. Through their leadership in civil society, women have influenced national and international responses to major development and political challenges of the 20th Century.

Progress Since the 1990s, women have been gaining political momentum; some in senior government positions, others in parliament or serving as judges and in local governments. This progress has been due to a combination of factors, including greater democratic consolidation in the region, recognition of women’s political rights, improved access to education and implementation of constitutional gender quotas. The first country in the region to pass a quota law ensuring that a minimum number of women was elected at local government and post conflict parliament levels was Uganda in the mid-1980s. Uganda went on to adopt a constitutional quota in 1995, guaranteeing one third of all local government seats to women and expanding the parliamentary quota. Tanzania followed soon after.

Today all countries — Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania and Kenya — have some form of constitutional quota for women in politics. The use of constitutional or legal quotas has been found to be effective in advancing women’s political participation in other regions too most notably Scandinavia and Latin America. “As the experience of Kenya shows, sustained training and mentoring of female candidates and educating voters on the value of women in politics can also have a positive impact on numbers,” Byanyima said.

Gender rule She called on Kenyan women politicians to build strong partnership between the ministry responsible for gender equality and civil society organisations. Byanyima told women to join political parties since they have space where leaders are groomed and selected to take on roles. Chief Justice Willy Mutunga disclosed that he has started a roundtable discussion in recognition of Kenya’s new Constitution which has opened space for women to participate in leadership and decision-making positions, through the provision of minimum gender quotas for all elected and appointed bodies. He assured the delegates of his office commitment to justice for all, irrespective of their economic or social status, including gender, to protect and promote the Constitution. “We are very conscious of our obligation to ensure equal access to justice for all – for women and men, boys and girls, for the rural or the urban, for rich or for poor,” he noted. The Ministry of Justice has embarked on an ambitious programme of judicial reform as a way to address electoral related judicial disputes and

ensure that the post election violence events of 2007-2008 are not repeated. Mutunga said that it is regrettable that over the years, in the run-up to the last elections, we witnessed instances of manipulation, discrimination and violence against women, specifically targeted to confuse and intimidate them in order to limit participation. “We are mindful of that and we will be working hard to ensure that women enjoy their equal rights of participation in the upcoming elections — whether as voters, candidates or as election officials,” he added.

Targets In the Beijing Platform for Action, the world’s leaders committed to set aside one third of seats for women in national parliaments. This target, which was intended to be a floor and not a ceiling, was set more than a decade ago and, despite progress in some countries, the world has not reached it yet. The latest statistics from the Inter-Parliamentary Union show that, as of August 2012, globally, women still hold only 19.8 percent of seats in both houses of parliament combined. Women political representation in Kenya is very low compared to other countries in the region. Currently it stands at 9.9 percent against Rwanda at 56.3 percent, Uganda 35 percent, Burundi 30.5 percent and Ethiopia and 27.8 percent. Article 27(4) of the Constitution of Kenya 2010 prohibits direct and indirect discrimination against any person on any ground including race, sex, pregnancy, marital status, health status,

A section of women aspirants during a meeting organized by UN- Women in Nairobi. Photo: Henry Owino ethnic or social origin, colour, age, disability, religion, conscience, belief, culture, dress, language or birth.

Law

The law further provides for the affirmative action to redress any disadvantage suffered by individuals or groups because of past discrimination. In addition the law clearly provides that not more than two-thirds of members of elective or appointive bodies shall be of the same gender. “The principle must become a fundamental pillar of the electoral system in the run up to the elections of 2013,” ,” the UNDP Resident Representative and UN Resident Coordinator Dr. Aeneas Chuma said. He said that it will be important to ensure that quotas are met through the application of gender-responsive electoral arrangements, support to women candidates, and the assurance of political will at the highest levels of political parties and government to overcome the gender imbalances in Parliament. He added that as the country prepares for the 2013 General Election, enabling laws need to be implemented to ensure that at least one-third of women are elected and appointed to key decision-making institutions as required by the Constitution. “Strong leadership, financial backing and consistent monitoring and inclusion of gender aspects into laws, policies and programmes are needed for the implementation of the gen-

der gains in the Constitution and the respect for the international agreements,” he noted Police commissioner Mathew Iteere assured women leaders that security will be beefed up during the campaigns and after general elections.

Security He observed that even though the number of police expected to monitor elections are few, efforts are being made to enjoin the prisons officials, National Youth Service staffs and the Kenya Wildlife Staff during the process. But he called on members of the public to remain alert and inform the police of any act that threatens the peace of the country adding that incidences like what happened in 2007/2008 has to be avoided at all costs. The women leaders told governments, civil society and international agencies to challenge and support parties to be more inclusive and accountable to their voters, both men and women. During the conference, UNDP launched a publication that showed a good practice of parties which successfully fostered reforms to promote gender equality with examples from all over the world (including Rwanda and South Africa). They urged the government to reaffirm its political commitment on gender equality as per the Constitution of Kenya 2010, specifically on the Affirmative Action.

Did the women dance themselves lame before the real dance?

I

…By Rosemary Okello

n an article titled Citizen Centred Public Service Delivery in African Countries, the author narrates that if men and women were to be left on their own, to compete for individual survival on earth, without an authority to regulate their behaviour in public space, the world would be a very chaotic place. And this is the basis upon which philosophers such as Thomas Hobbes and John Locke recommended governments to us. In Kenya, there is no doubt that women have been looking for the Government’s intervention in the area of representation and participation of women in key decision-making. Therefore, when the constitution was promulgated in August 2010, majority of women said that finally Kenya was on the world map in terms of proactively aiding increased women’s representation through the Constitution and they danced themselves lame.

Framework The ordinary women felt that for once in the history of Kenya, there was in place a framework that would guide the Government in how to deal

with issues affecting women. They reckoned that Kenya was on the path to sustainable development with the strong guarantee of equality in the Constitution and celebrated the many women and men who fought for the new constitutional dispensation. However, even though they were aware that the implementation stage was not going to be easy, they were not prepared for always making noise every time the Executive made an appointment. “This does not reflect the spirit and values of the Constitution of Kenya 2010,” many have been heard commenting.

Discrimination

The appointment of the 47 County Commissioners reaffirmed their fears that they have got a long way to go because only nine women were appointed. This was seen as a violation of women’s constitutional rights of equality and non-discrimination based on sex. This according to the women, if left uncorrected would widen the inequality gap between men and women in leadership positions.

If the Executive used the not more two–third of each gender principle, the number of women who could have been appointed would be 15 out of 47. According to a paper titled Gender Principles Within The Constitution by Connie Gondi, a leading lawyer, the State has got the mandate to close the gender inequality gap that has existed in the country for over four decades.

Constitution

Currently men hold over 95 per cent of all senior government positions and yet the women have been advocating for positive change in this gross gender imbalance for decades, a fact that is on record in the country’s constitutional development history. Yet Article 10(2) (b) stipulates: “The national values and principles of governance include: human dignity, equity, social justice, inclusiveness, equality, human rights, nondiscrimination, and protection of the marginalised”. This is further reinforced by Article 27 (3) which states: “Women and men have the right to equal treatment, including the right to equal opportu-

nities in political, economic, cultural and social spheres.” “As the Executive apply and interpret the authorising articles in regard to the nominations for appointments under discussion here, they are constitutionally bound by the above provisions to observe the values and principles of equity, equality, human rights, and nondiscrimination among the other values,” says Gondi.

Accountability

Considering that the appointment of the County Commissioners is sure indication of the devolved structure being put in place, there is need to start from the onset to empower the women to be part of the leadership structured and also to demand accountability as well as good governance which can improve the lives of the majority of Kenyans. Specifically, the Constitution presents an opportunity to advance gender equality and women’s empowerment. The Constitution guarantees affirmative action while prohibiting all forms of discrimination including violence against women

and any customary law that perpetuates such acts.

Consultation The women, therefore, expect to be consulted when the laws to operationalise the Constitution are being made. The leadership has to indicate to Kenyans that this is a new country where gender issues cannot be taken for granted. The issue of two thirds majority of one gender in Article 27(7) must, therefore, not be construed to be the default allocation for men. Indeed given the gross inequality, and in order for the State to meet the equality threshold contemplated in the Bill of Rights, the two thirds majority should more often than not be the allocation for women.

Dilemma

However, the appointments have left women to watch pensively from the side-lines, sometimes wondering about the goings on, particularly the political noise that has taken centre stage at the expense of real issues. Now, the women are wondering whether they danced themselves lame before the real dance.


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Issue Number 31 • October 2012

Against all odds, Rose Nyakiba wades through the Nakuru County terrain …By Gladys Moraa

H

er childhood was replete with the zeal to uplift the social welfare of the poor in the society and 43 years later, the drive and motivation has not waned. Never had it ever crossed her mind that someday she would be joining politics. She never had any interest in elective seats until her close allies pointed out the virtues of good leadership in her soon after promulgation of the new constitution. Rose Nyakiba, a hair dresser by profession believes that with her ability to mobilise people, she can fruitfully foster and deliver her development agenda as the Nakuru County Women Representative. The plight of the suffering women and children in the low income estates within Nakuru Municipality inspired her to join politics to be able to help them in her humble and modest ways. With the special women’s position rightfully created under the new Constitution, Nyakiba solemnly feels that it is time impoverished women and children in the County enjoyed the treasure of quality shelter, education, health and nutrition. Nyakiba, a breast cancer survivor has been an influential figure in calling for the establishment of cancer clinics in the slums and rural areas.

Achievement Having gone through the trauma of breast cancer in 2008, she founded Rift Valley Breast Cancer Programme to sensitise women on the disease. In collaboration with the local hospitals, medical personnel based in Nakuru and other non-governmental organisations involved in the promotion of affordable healthcare, she has spearheaded breast cancer sensitisation campaigns as well as free medical checkups across the County including in Kaptembwa, Bondeni and Rhonda slums.

Matters regarding protection of women and children against sexual exploitation and molestation have been part of her daily activities for the longest time she can remember. She even earned herself the nickname, “mama watoto” (children’s mother). “I have lived with children who have been forced out of their homes. Whenever a child is lost, people who know me bring him/her to me so that I can take them to the police or take care of them,” says Nyakiba. “I also track rape cases from hospital to court.” Even from her backyard, she has remained a vocal human rights activist earnestly fighting for fair treatment of women and children.

Ratings Nyakiba is just one woman who should be added into the list of the great self-driven women in the world. Some of the female political leaders who have been christened as the most powerful in the world include Angel Merkel, Condolezza Rice and Hillary Clinton. “I am a very open person. I approach issues diplomatically. My understanding is that everyone has his or her own needs that require special attention,” notes Nyakiba. She says her desire to contest  for the Nakuru County Women Representative seat is driven by her enthusiasm to provide structures and resources that  can facilitate the establishment of accessible health, education and capacity building facilities for the benefit of every woman especially those living in poverty or in the rural areas. Though she does not have adequate

resources for campaigning, she is optimistic that the support and the blessings she commands from her friends across the county is enough to see her grip the seat. “People just love me. I have friends across the County, they just look for me because of the fame I have for the things I have done for women. That support, love and blessings for me is moving. I may not have the huge amounts of money but I know that they have me in their hearts,” remarks Nyakiba. Married with one son, she beckons on the support of her family. Unlike in the yester years where husbands felt threatened by their wives getting into politics, Nyakiba asserts that stereotypical attitudes that regard women as cooks have long been watered down and men have realised the relevance of women in leadership. She says her husband and son have inspired her to get into politics not to enrich her family but to bring change to the community. “My family always reminds me that I  am meant to assist people in their weakness; that when I get the seat I should remain focused on doing what is entitled to the seat. That gives me the strength and energy to eye for the seat,” says Nyakiba.

Campaigns To reach out for the support of all and sundry, she uses her salon to mobilise for support in her campaigns. “I meet and socialise with people who come to my salon and they spread the message. Later others come to look for me and lend their supporting hand,” notes Nyakiba.

“I am a very open person. I approach issues diplomatically. My understanding is that everyone has his or her own needs that require special attention.” — Rose Nyakiba, aspirant for the Nakuru County Women Representative seat

Rose Nyakiba, an aspirant for the Nakuru County Women Representative seat. Photo: Gladys Moraa She says all around the County, women, men and youth have freely offered to support her bid even without her seeking. “It is miraculous, sometimes I am amazingly moved by the people’s response and I thank God for that,” observes Nyakiba who is among the six women aspiring for Nakuru County Women Representative position. Having grown in Nakuru and schooled with pupils and students from all tribes, she considers everybody as a brother and sister. She says calling someone by their tribe or ethnic group has never been her cup of tea neither has she ever excluded herself from helping people because they speak a different language during her community work. “I have grown up with people from all tribes and I have never considered myself as a Kisii but a Kenyan. I am even married to a Luo. I only see danger in clustering people into tribes. There is nothing to gain from calling yourself a Luo, Kikuyu or any other tribe,” asserts Nyakiba. Acting as a peace champion and civic education trainer, she has been engaged in numerous drives and campaign promoting peaceful co-existence amongst communities living in Nakuru County. Through women community asso-

ciations and self-groups, she has managed to carry the mantle of peace. “As a member of the Amkeni wa Kenya, an umbrella organisations aimed at empowering women, I play a great role in peace building and civic education. I have organised women peace walks in Nakuru town, Rongai and Naivasha. With the help of my fellow women, we engage others from the villages because unity is all about us,” observes Nyakiba. Having been born and brought up in Nakuru, Nyakiba understands the breaking and mending points of the region. With the experiences of the 20072008 post election violence, she clearly knows that without positive ethnicity, the County is bound to burn if triggered into violence. With the experience and knowledge, Nyakiba says her involvement in peace campaigns and civic education has given her the platform to engage communities into diplomatic reconciliation. “Since 2008, we have gone to all the six constituencies and in every meeting we call for reconciliation. As a civic educator, I always ensure that my message emphasises on peace. So far, we have had a positive response and I am happy that people are beginning to embrace unity among them,” she notes.

Why We Need More Women in the Boardroom

…By Richard Branson

I

recently watched 12 Angry Men — that classic 1957 film about a jury struggling to decide the fate of an 18-year-old man who has been charged with murder. The movie gives you a sense of how the legal system worked in the United States back then, when juries were less diverse. By today’s standards, we would find it unsettling if a jury were comprised of 12 middleaged white men. So why have so many business leaders been slow to take notice when women are absent from the boards of their companies? In most developed nations, the percentage of women in the labour force has increased dramatically since the 1950s. When 12 Angry Men was produced, less than a third of American workers were female, whereas

today, the US Department of Labour says that number now stands at 47 per cent.

Disparity Despite this change, men are still much more likely than women to hold senior positions. In particular, the ratio of female board members has lagged, with less than 14 per cent of these positions at the largest companies filled by women, according to the European Commission. The numbers vary greatly from country to country across Europe: In Italy, only six per cent of board members are women; in Spain and Belgium, 11 per cent; in Germany, 16 per cent; in France, 22 per cent. The commission has been championing a planned EU law to impose sanctions on companies in the European Union if less than 40 per cent of their board members are women.

I am not usually a fan of government involvement in private industry, but on this issue it seems to be needed. Norway took the lead in 2003 when its legislature passed a law requiring that at publicly listed companies, at least 40 per cent of board members should be women. They were successful at meeting the 2008 target date, and since then the proportion of women on boards at Norwegian companies has risen to an encouraging 44 per cent.

Study A study the British government commissioned on this problem recommended that by 2015, 25 per cent of board members at the largest British companies should be women. The Cranfield School of Management recently reported that 50 per cent now have more than one woman on their boards, but British companies

still have a long way to go. The situation requires more than just a recommendation — whatever happened to leading with a persuasive argument? Simply for pragmatic reasons, business leaders need to take action.

Facts Seventy per cent of household purchasing decisions are made by women, according to the Boston Consulting Group. Those decisions are not just about grocery lists or kids’ clothes — women also choose big ticket items such as cars and vacations. So, if 50 per cent of the staff at a company is female, and women drive 70 per cent of the buying decisions for its products, what possible rationale can senior management have for leaving women out of the corporate decision-making process? At Virgin, we have seen a

number of women rise to senior positions over the years. At present, Virgin Money and Virgin Holidays are run by female CEOs and the person in the number two spot at Virgin Atlantic is a woman. There are many women in senior management at other Virgin companies, but we have much to do as an organisation.

Representation If you are looking to increase the number of women in leadership positions at your company, you might start by considering what opportunities female employees have for career advancement, and what barriers they may be encountering. Ask women from every area of your company about their experiences and for their advice. Women often encounter gender-based stereotypes about who is qualified to do what

kind of job, which can sometimes persist in subtle ways and must be challenged at every level. This may be addressed by offering female employees more flexible working conditions; in some cases, putting in place better policies for both maternity and paternity leaves may be a good start. Fixing this injustice is not just good for your team: it’s good for business. Several studies have shown that gender equity in senior management and at the board level brings many tangible benefits. A report by the Credit Suisse Research Institute revealed that those firms dominated by men had recovered more slowly since the 2008 financial downturn than those with a more balanced malefemale ratio. So take a look at who is sitting around your boardroom table. If you see 12 angry men, it’s time to write a new script!


11

Issue Number 31 • October 2012

Women must protect constitution from amendments

Free and fair elections is also about gender equity

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…By Rosemary Okello ecently a non-governmental organisation went to West Pokot to conduct some activities around women’s empowerment. As part of the requirements for the activities, the women were supposed to have identification cards. However, when they were asked to produce them, none had. They promised to bring the IDs the next day. Come the following day, the women came to the workshop accompanied by their husbands, who were each holding an ID that belonged to their wives.

Disparities Shocked and concerned about the situation, the officials of the NGO asked the women why IDs were in the custody of their husbands, to which the women replied that was the order of the day. The issue of men holding women’s IDs might remotely relate to how women get involved in electoral process which starts with getting the ID itself, participating in the voter registration, election campaigns and the voting on the polling day.

Vulnerable

…By Henry Kahara

T

he aftermath of the 2007 General Election violence taught many Kenyans lessons they will live to remember. According to Betty Murungi, a Gender and conflict expert, credibility is one of the key lessons learnt during the period Kenya was on fire. “During the 2007 General Election almost all of us (women), had taken sides with the political parties,” recalls Murungi. She said that women failed to understand that they were the people who would be greatly affected by the outcome of the animosity which had been spread throughout the country. Murungi admits that it wasn’t easy for the women to come together as a team and start preaching peace throughout country. “Solidarity of Africa’s sisterhood was another key lesson I learnt as it was during that time when everything had gone haywire when we got what we longed for, support,” she notes. Women from different countries of Africa came together and supported Kenyan women in various ways including giving finances.

Caution Murungi urges women not to forget where they have come from and water down the gains they have made in the last four years. Some of the great achievements which Kenya has gained in the last four years is approval of new constitution which guarantees both men and women equal rights as stated in Article 27(3): Women and men have the right to equal treatment, including the right to equal opportunities in political, economic, cultural and social spheres. “We need to stop anybody from politicising our identity as women of Kenya, for we all know that women are the greatest casualties whenever crisis erupts,” she urges. She warns against plans to amend the Constitution because this may reverse women gains. She says that Kenya has a history of 27 Constitution amendments in just 40 years, with the most regressive being as early as 1964 and 1966 should not be repeated. “Avoid considering constitutional amendment just two years after promulgation,” ad-

Scenes that characterized the 2007 Post Election Violence. Women bore the highest brunt during the conflict sparked by disputed presidential poll results. Picture: File

vises Murungi. Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC) throws its weight behind Kenyan women in rejecting amendments of the Constitution by parliamentarians just before a general election adding that the act could result in reversal of benefits contained in the docket. The Commission notes that this will set a bad precedent of resorting too quickly to constitutional amendment whenever there is a challenge. It notes that there is likelihood that gender issues will be relegated to periphery and addressed in a simplistic manner that leaves women robbed of the gains. “Equality and gender is embedded in Constitution of Kenya; some of the issues to be opened up may require a referendum; it can and probably should and will in due course be amended but this is not a right time,” says Commission. Although Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA) Kenya maintains that amending the Constitution may erode its contents. They are placing responsibility on Parliament and other measures to bring mechanism which will help the constitution to be fully implemented especially on issue of getting one third of its members being of the other gender.

Constitution Article 81 (b) provides that not more than two-thirds of members of elective public bodies shall be of the same gender. This is also agreed in Articles 177 (b) and 197 — the two thirds gender principle must apply in County Assemblies and

“We need to stop anybody from politicizing our identity as women of Kenya, for we all know that women are the greatest casualties whenever a crisis erupts.” — Betty Murungi

County Executive Committees. Although special seats (nomination) are recognised as a way of achieving two thirds gender principle in County Assembly, no exhaustive formula is provided. The Kenya Government has in the past signalled its belief in using ordinary legislation to achieve gender balance. Its periodic reports to Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) indicate that it is possible to achieve that objective through the instrument of the Political Parties Act. The State has already indicated its capacity to use ordinary legislation to achieve gender balance through legislation on devolution (clause 36 of the County Governments Bill, 2011). According to FIDA, the language of Article 27(8) is clear where it states that Parliament is mandated to take whatever legislative measures it considers appropriate for the purpose of enforcing or securing the enforcement of the two thirds gender principle.

Proposals For now KHRC recommends amendment of the Political Parties Act to require that party nomination lists must reflect 50 per cent gender balance within each County and for the total number of counties i.e. 145 male and 145 female nominees for the 290 elective seats. Secondly, amend the Elections Act to require that every political party fields a Governor and running mate of opposite gender and that 50 per cent of Governor nominees for each party must be women. This means every party will field 23 men and 22 women for Governor on March 4, 2013. The above amendments should apply to County assemblies too where each party must ensure that its final list of nominees to run for March 2013 elections has 50 per cent male and 50 per cent female candidates for the total number of wards in each County. Of which the Commission is quick to note that it doesn’t violate Article 177 (1) b). However, analysts say that although this formula too may not deliver, it offers greatest chance of delivering two thirds gender rule.

Experience has shown how Ids are used by men as a tool to exercise their power. During elections, they used it to ensure the woman votes the person or party the husband is supporting. When a woman refuses, then the consequences are grave, She is chased away or beaten or both. This is because electoral processes always make women more vulnerable and insecure. Within their families, wives tend to be coerced into voting in a particular way. A research on Gender Monitoring of the 2002 General Elections in Kenya done by African Woman and Child Features had very interesting findings. One of the women quoted in the study said: “In 2002, my husband asked me to vote for the candidate of his choice or else I was to face the music. I could have disobeyed him to my own peril.”

Intimidation Some of the women who would like to vie for various political positions are intimated by their husbands. It ends up in violence when the woman defies his order and goes to vie for a political post. It is even worse when the woman vies against the husband’s relative or clan member. They are divorced or forced to separate as a punishment for disobedience. Words like “how can we allow women to come and lead us as if there are no men here” are commonplace. This statement and many others have denied the society women with brilliant leadership qualities. It has become fashionable to subject a woman who chooses to be part of a campaign team for a particular politician to gender based violence because they have come late in the evening or seen to be having a sizeable amount of cash. They are accused of having gained this money through extra-marital affairs. Many are beaten up or subjected to verbal violence by their male partners or even in-laws. No wonder many campaigns and rallies do not have many women in attendance.

Social construction During the past elections the common answer given by women why they do not participate in political campaigns and rallies is that it is a man’s thing. During the polling day itself, cases of women who have woken up so early to beat the long queues being raped have been reported. And while on the queue itself women are always subjected to pushing and shoving or indecent behaviour which at times can be humiliating. I remember during the last election at a polling station how women who were shoved and subjected to some form of violence went back home. They did not vote.

Electoral process How free and fear an election can be is not just about events that happen on the polling day, but it encompasses events that occur throughout the electoral process. This is where women are most affected and majority suffer in silence. To ensure that the 2013 General Elections is free and fair, the Independent Elections and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) will have to ensure that gender principle and guidelines informs their work and interventions during the electoral process. It is only through the use of gender lens in the final analysis can a country conclusively say whether an election is free and fair.


12

Issue Number 31 • October 2012

Health bill fails to meet constitutional requirements

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ven as Kenyans await for reforms in the health sector, it is emerging that the bill earmarked to steer the process runs contrary to the Constitution and fails to capture the input of the public and other stakeholders. The health bill empties all contents of input received from the public and is not an accurate reflection of the demands that Kenyans made in terms of actualizing reproductive health rights including access to reproductive health care services. The bill does not provide for the respect, protection and promotion of reproductive health rights and fails to place obligations on the government to ensure that reproductive health services are widely accessible, available, acceptable and of sufficient quality. Further the Bill carries with it provisions that are unconstitutional and therefore open to challenge before the High Court. According to Prof Joseph Karanja of University of Nairobi, the bill is likely to be unconstitutional and above all shoddily done. He cites the inclusion of abortion in the bill which he says defeats the very purpose for which the proposed law seeks to address. “The bill seeks to consolidate health laws, to provide for the regulation of health care service providers, to provide for establishment of national regulatory institutions and coordinate relationships between the national and county governments and thus the inclusion of abortion undermines the broader and structural goals of the proposed law,” he explains during a media briefing organized by the Reproductive Health and Rights Alliance (RHRA). He says that the bill reflects a clear intent to restrict access to safe and legal abortion services, rather than create an enabling environment as outlined in the Constitution.

Constitution Prof Karanja says that this is in contravention of Article 26 (4) of the Constitution which permits abortion when in the opinion of a trained health professional, there is need for emergency treatment, or the life or health of the mother is in danger or if permitted by any other written law. He argues that termination of pregnancy is best handled in separate legislation or guidelines and singles out the additional clause in the constitution which stipulates abortion is legal “if permitted by any other written law”. This clause he says leaves open the possibility for further legislation but does not allow for a written law to further limit ac-

cess to abortion. Prof Karanja says the approach has been adopted by other countries such as South Africa, Zambia and Zimbambwe which address abortion in legislations outside of their penal codes. He further cites clause 6 of the bill that requires medical practitioners to have a valid license from the recognized regulatory authorities to carry out the procedure. “The clause signals a clear intention to restrict access to abortion services under the law as there is no other medical procedure in the country that requires separate licensing for a particular procedure,” he laments. He says the provision as outlined in Article 26 (4) of the Constitution had inevitably sought to ensure meaningful access to the abortion procedure under the law by all women. The bill has also failed to make explicit references to Article 43 (3)of the Constitution which provides a person shall not be denied emergency medical treatment.

Emergency care Dr Carol Odula who is the chairperson of the Kenya Obstetrical and Gynaecological Society (KOGS) says that this provision places a strong obligation on the government to ensure

From left: Dr Stephen Karanja, Prof Joseph Karanja centre and Dr Abadalla Kibwana during the 36th scientific annual conference in Nairobi. Photo: Henry Owino that all persons, including women seeking post abortion care or emergency abortion services, receive necessary medical treatment. She says that the reference to “elective abortions” in section 6 (1) as a form of family planning is vague and likely to cause confusion as to the content of the law Another contrast in the Bill is the provision that makes abortion a notifiable condition which ordinarily applies to cases of communicable diseases in order to prevent outbreaks and public health crisis. “Safe and legal termination of pregnancy is not a communicable or infectious disease and does not require notification. This provision again reflects an intention to over regulate and restrict access to abortion services, in contravention of the Constitution’s guarantee of access to abortion under certain conditions,” she adds. She says that trained health professionals can ensure proper record keeping in their provision of services without a requirement that these services be notifiable. Dr John Nyamu who is the Executive Director Reproductive Health Services (RHS)

says that the inclusion of abortion in the bill is an affront to Article 26 (4) of the Constitution and undermines access to safe abortion. Dr Nyamu calls for a review of the Bill to reflect proposals by stakeholders before it is too late. “In its present form, the bill stands the risk of being declared unconstitutional,” he adds. He urges for more public consultations and participation and in particular engagement with the task force overseeing the bill to help identify gaps and propose amendments for consideration by the various entities in the Constitutional implementation legislation making chain.

Deaths Unsafe abortion accounts for 2,600 of maternal deaths both in public and private health institutions. It is estimated that the government spends Ksh 18 million annually, in Post Abortion Care given to women with complications arising from unsafe abortion by quacks or in an environment lacking minimal sanitary and medical standards.

Lack of funds not a stumbling block to young aspirant …By Duncan Mboyah

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t is said that lack of a strong financial base is the cause for low women participation in national politics. But for Jane Njiru, the 33 years old parliamentary aspirant for Manyatta Constituency in Embu County, money is not all that aspirants need to win parliamentary seat.

Coordinator “I unsuccessfully contested the seat in 2007 aged only 28 years and managed position four and did not spent money as opposed to opponents some of whom I had beaten,” she notes. Njiru joined politics in 2003 when she was elected a youth coordinator for Ford Asili political

party. This election exposed her to attending many meetings in Kenya and outside, a move that led her to dream of attaining political leadership. In the coming elections, instead of running for women representative seat that most women are aspiring for in most parts of the country, Njiru is contesting a parliamentary seat. “I am contesting this seat because I have not seen change in the constituency since elected leaders continue making people poorer instead of initiating projects that could help change their lives,” says Njiru, an advocate of the High Court. She observes that the current political leadership has perfected the art of appointing their cronies to manage crucial funds and commit-

tees instead of asking people to elect people of their choice. This habit, she says is to blame for unequal development in the constituency and the cause of poverty.

Plans Njiru intends to form a development team that is to be comprised of qualified and competent people who will be guided by elders. “This team will comprise of people from all professions and most of the team will be the youth,” she notes. In her plans, Njiru will set up a youth resource centre that will help in identifying the potential of young people by looking at their qualifications and helping them make right career choices. She notes that her mission is to

work together with the electorate as a team in developing the constituency unlike the current leadership that over dominates all projects. Njiru whose father and elder brother were politicians attended Kyeni Girls’ High School and the University of Nairobi where she graduated with a law degree in 2002. She joined private practice at Wairagu and Wairagu Advocates (2003–2008) before moving to the Nazareth Sisters of the Annunciation run Kunyo family charities as a programme manager. Njiru left the organisation last year for Women Agenda where she was appointed a programme manager. Her core role at the organisation has been dialoguing with the youth to ensure safety of women in politics

during electioneering period. “Our concern has been the security for women aspirants during campaign and electioneering period,” she notes.

Determination Njiru tells women aspirants to believe in themselves as marathon runners adding that the race may prove difficult but all must get to the finish line. She calls on young women to join political parties and maintain their womanhood by being positive to their cause. However, she tells the aspirants to have basic finances to cater for the printing of posters and transport since most constituencies are large to cover during the electioneering period.


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Issue Number 31 • October 2012

Slum women peace group leads from the front …By Henry Owino

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ibera Women for Peace and Fairness popularly known as Wamama Wa Amani marked this year’s International Day of Peace with one message; to preach peace and unity ahead of next general elections. This year’s International Day of Peace theme is anchored on Sustainable Peace for a Sustainable Future. It is expected that this peace will last forever especially in African countries prone to violence during electioneering period. Kibera is among the areas worst hit by post election violence of 2007/08 in Kenya after the disputed presidential election results. Several people lost their lives, others were displaced and property worth millions of shillings destroyed in the ensuing skirmishes. And in a bid to avert similar incidents, messages of peace have been replicated by both community based organizations and several NGOs. Wamama Wa Amani group is an example of a CBO that has been keen on reconciling communities leaving in Kibera.

Diversity The group comprises of 300 women drawn from all ethnic and religious groups in Kibera who came together for the sake of peace in the estate. This year’s International Peace Day celebrated every 21st September was held at Bombolulu estate in Kibera the epicenter of the post election violence in Nairobi. Janet Onyango who is the women’s group leader said that this time round they decided to mark it at the heart of Kibera slums. She explained the group found it more reasonable to have the day celebrated in the violence prone area to remind residents of what happened and not to let it happen again. Janet affirmed that when women are trained on peace initiatives, they are able to inculcate the same in their spouses, children and community at large. She added that women are naturally sympathizers and hate violence therefore have minimal room to entertain criminal activities. “We decided as Wamama Wa Amani group to come together and preach peace and unity in Kibera regardless of one’s tribe, status, age, gender and religious backgrounds,” Janet explained. “We had planned to mark it here in Kibera because it is an area that was affected during the 2007 post election violence,” she added.

Committed Faith Ochieng, a Programmes Co-ordinator with Kituo cha Sheria and the sponsors of Wamama Wa Amani group said she was impressed by the turn out of women at the forum. She added it signalized that women were committed to peace and reconciliation. Faith promised to organize another forum where Kituo cha Sheria would train at least 25 women who would in turn become trainers of other women trainees. The Kituo cha Sheria programme Co-ordinator urged the women group to be in the forefront in spearheading peace and unity now, during and after elections. She said when women come together for a noble course, men follow suit. “Kituo cha Sheria is going to train more women amongst you so that in return, many of you would become trainers. This would also help in creating awareness about your rights enshrined in the new constitution

among other new things expected to promote peace,” Faith promised. She told the women group that Kituo cha Sheria is a centre for legal empowerment and so it cares for justice. In addition, Faith reiterated that they are more than willing to work with various groups that are championing for peace, unity, promoting equality and human rights amongst citizens regardless of their background origins.

Justice The women who spoke at the forum lamented that justice has remained elusive for victims of Post Election Violence. They regretted that majority of Kenyan women and children who suffered the most are still living in camps as internally displaced persons (IDPs) five years after the violence. The women said despite the fact that four suspects are awaiting trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC), justice is yet to be realized. According to Rose Akinyi, another General Election is around the corner and women would be expected to vote yet there are no mechanisms in place to ensure that peace prevails. She argued that perpetrators of 2007/08 violence are still at large and some are contesting for political seats. Rose said that although most Kenyans have confidence that the new constitution will restore the rule of law, law makers are altering several clauses to suit their selfish interests. She pointed out that Chapter Six which addresses leadership and integrity has been diluted to serve individuals with a tainted past.

Action Beatrice Navula however, stated that the violence that rocked the country in 2007/08 was all about tribalism and poverty. She added that the disputed election results were just a trigger of the unresolved historical injustices by previous regimes. She urged the government to ensure that the issue is fully addressed by deregistering political parties and leaders fueling ethnicity.

From top: Kibera Women for Peace and fairness follow a video clip on Kenya Post Election Violence. Jane Onyango, a soloist, leads Wamama wa Amani group in Kibera in a song that resonates with peace messages. Kibera women for Peace and Fairness join other Kenyans in marking international Day for Peace at Kibera slums which was hard hit by the 2007 post election violence. Pictures: Henry Owino

“As much as peace is paramount before, during and after elections, tribalism must be eschewed by all means. Political parties that fuel animosity among different ethnic groupings should be deregistered,” Beatrice suggested. Edigar Kavulavu from Kituo cha Sheria advised the women group to be more conversant with the laws of Kenya especially the Constitution.

We decided as Wamama wa Amani Group to come together and preach peace and unity in Kibera regardless of our tribe, status, age, gender and religious background.

He promised to assist them pursue a court case where a minor was raped by an elderly man. “As long as you have the right documents and evidence, I am going to assist you in following up the case until the rapist is brought to book and justice done,” Edigar promised. Edigar explained that there are civil and criminal cases and so each is handled differently depending on the weight of the matter. Connie Muma, a Commissioner with the Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) asked the women group to press for justice in

cases of violations as keeping silent encourages the vice in the community. She said as a commission spearheading peace and reconciliation, Wamama wa Amani has given them easy time in Kibera where residents have reformed for peace. “I encourage to forge on with the good work and promote peace especially in Kibera which was a no go zone for some ethnic groups during 2007/08 skirmishes. I am sure God will reward you for the work of your hands even if people don’t recognize it,” Connie the TJRC Commissioner expressed.


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Sharon Wanjiru: Issue Number 31 • October 2012

From the streets to top motivator L …By Waikwa Maina

istening to the former street girl, she has not only tasted and swallowed her part of the bitter pills in life, but knows too well just to what extent some people, and so speaking, relatives can go to disown an innocent child. She suffered in the hands of her uncles and other relatives after the death of her parents during a road accident when she was just two months old. Sharon Wanjiru has learnt the hard way that through determination and focus, no situation is permanent, no matter how bad and bleak the circumstances. Ironically, unlike many people, she has no bitterness or grudge against her tormentors. Like many Kenyans, Wanjiru is well aware of the fact that the only reason her relatives turned against her was because of land. “My relatives dumped me in Nyeri a few years after the death of my parents. I can now vividly recall some of things they did to me before I was abandoned in the streets. But this was done without the knowledge of my grandmother who was sympathetic to my situation,” recalls Wanjiru, who was born in 1987 at Kahuhia Village, a few kilometres from Murang’a town.

Good Samaritan In Nyeri, a Good Samaritan she only recalls as Lucy took Wanjiru to live with her but she also died when the young girl was seven years old. She then found herself back in the streets. “One thing I liked about street life is that we all lived like brothers and sisters. Despite the many challenges, there was that comradeship, we shared whatever we scavenged and never went to sleep before we were sure where a friend was and if he or she was safe,” notes Wanjiru. A few months after getting back to street life, Wanjiru met her grandmother at lower Nyeri bus terminus. She was in a group of other street children going about their business when she heard somebody call her name.

Rescued Wanjiru recognised her grandmother but got confused. She wanted to run away but just as she was gaining the courage to escape her grandmother got hold of her hand and lured her into joining in her journey. Her grandmother, who she is named after was on her way to Nyahururu where she had moved and settled. “I was stinking a lot but my grandmother seemed unbothered. I recall she had to book a seat for me since no other passenger would share a seat with us,” she recalls.

Misfortune In Nyahururu, her grandmother enrolled her in school and educated her up to Form Four. Unfortunately just before she was through with her education, her uncles learnt that she was living with their mother and visited to evict her. However, Wanjiru’s grandmother stood her ground in support of the young girl and said she will remain

there with her. “I don’t know why they hated me so much. I understand they had issues with my mother and were opposed to my parents’ marriage though I have never known why. I tried asking my grandmother about it but she never wanted to discuss the issue. Sometimes, it was like she was blaming herself for my parents’ death and for having ignored the domestic squabbles,” says Wanjiru. “It seemed to hurt her and I couldn’t therefore pursue the issue any further because I did not want to hurt her. She was all I had and she loved me unlike my uncles.” Just after sitting Kenya Certificate of Secondary Examinations her uncles moved to Nyahururu and life became unbearable. She could not bear it anymore. She therefore decided to escape.

Escaped Unfortunately she had no money. She decided to visit a friend and lied that she needed KSh1,000 to seek treatment promising to repay in three days. She recalls that she got the money on a Monday and had promised to refund by Thursday of the same week.

Sharon Wanjiru in blue jacket and White T- shirt with members of a community self help group. The bricks will be used to construct a chief’s office at Itiira in Embu County. Photo: Waikwa Maina She boarded a matatu to Nyeri, but on arrival decided not to reside there as she had nothing to do in Nyeri and going back to street life was out of question.

Resolve “Not that I had developed a hatred for the street children, but when my grandmother took me with her, I made a resolution that I would spend my life assisting and changing other young people’s lives, I also needed somewhere to start reorganising myself and Nyeri was not the best place for me. I knew I would get discouraged and I didn’t want to get stigmatised,” narrates Wanjiru. Not sure where to go, she boarded a matatu and finally found herself in Embu town. Here she ruled out possibilities of living in such a big town, and that is how she found herself in Siakago town, Mbeere District. She spent the first night in a bathroom in Mbeere.

“I located a residential place and decided that is where I would spend my night. I waited until all the tenants had taken their bath, and at around 10pm, I suspected the gate would be locked so I sneaked in, went into the bathroom until the following morning when I started looking for a job,” she says. A woman understood her situation and offered her a job at her shop but three months later, she had received not a single salary. By this time, she had made many friends while at the shop due to her oratory skills and ability to mix easily with other people.

Achievement She later started a small business in Siakago town and encouraged youth and women to form self-help and common interest groups. So far, she has helped form six youth groups, which she uses as platforms to fight against drug abuse, mo-

I have been able to form six youth groups, which serve as a platform to fight against drug abuse, motivate young people to living positively as well as on how they can initiate development projects and advocating against outdated cultural practices. — Sharon Wanjiru, a former street urchin

tivate young people to living positively as well as on how they can initiate development projects and advocating against outdated cultural practices. Some of the groups have bought motorbikes from their small membership savings, while others are engaging in other economic generating projects at individual and group levels. Wanjiru has just launched a campaign to fight a culture where it is a taboo for some clans to marry, giving examples of Nguru and Njoka clans which cannot marry. As she puts it, “even the older men in the two communities do not know why the two clans cannot marry and have just been following a tradition that they do not understand.” Wanjiru is also engaged in counselling. She recalls having saved a young girl who wanted to commit suicide. “I was with a friend when we noted that a young girl was about to commit suicide, we raised alarm and some people came for her rescue. No one wanted to associate with her as she was HIV positive. I took her to my place where she agreed to share her testimony. I lived with her for few days and she is now fine. People find it hard to believe she is the one and still alive, I thank my God for that,” says Wanjiru.


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Issue Number 31 • October 2012

Farming has been her life and the State has recognised her for this …By Wilson Rotich   

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he has received Head of State Commendation awards from two Presidents. The first award came way back in 1999 and this was followed by another award in December 2007 when President Mwai Kibaki awarded her another Head state commendation in recognition of her brilliant performance in farming. Meet Kogo Sarah Saina whose prowess in farming has won her accolades far and wide. Saina started farming when she was only 12 years old. Then she would always accompany her grandmother to the farm and plant a few tobacco bushes for herself. She would also assist her grandmother sell the produce and the returns motivated her to increase her tobacco bushes. Even at that tender age, Saina knew what to do with the money. She would use part of the proceeds to buy herself clothes. Born in 1930 at Kapkole village in Aldai location in Nandi County, Saina went to school for only two years with the help of missionaries. “My parents did not see any need in retaining me in school and I had to drop out after two years,” she says. At 14 years, her parents married her off as a second wife to a man in Kabiyet in Nandi County where she lives to date. “I obliged because I loved the man but he had no wealth. We were sleeping on the floor and I had to improvise a mattress using grass stuffed in sacks,” Saina recalls.

Experience Soon after she settled in her matrimonial home, Saina decided to keep poultry. “I started with one egg that hatched a chick. The chick later became the seed that increased my stock that I later sold and bought myself two cows in 1953. Luck struck my way when a European veterinary extension

officer visited my home and introduced me to Artificial Insemination services (AI). “This helped me to improve the breed of my cows and they started producing milk in plenty. This meant that I had enough milk at home and I could sell the surplus,” she says as she leans on her walking stick. Soon Saina diversified her farming activities as most people in the area were now going for dairy farming. “I moved to something else to avoid saturating the market with one product,” she says.

Training She recalls attending several agricultural workshops which were beneficial despite her illiteracy. “I might not have heard what they said in the workshops but there were numerous practical illustrations which helped me to embrace modern techniques of farming,” she adds. A visit to a farm owned by retired President Moi in Kabarak inspired her to work hard. “I was motivated to see the head of state, who despite being wealthy had managed to properly tend for his crops and livestock,” she says.

Founder The mother of 13 children and several grand children says she has been a consistent dairy farmer since 1953 and was among the founder members of the Kenya Cooperative Creameries (KCC). “I was among the first Africans to join KCC which was then owned by the white set-

“I was among the first Africans to join KCC which was then owned by the white settlers and widely known as the Great Rift.” — Kogo Sarah Saina

tlers and widely known as the Great Rift. I was member number 320.” She claims that she was in the forefront of sensitizing young farmers on the importance of the cooperative societies. “I used to ride a bicycle to ease my movement while visiting farmers in Nandi and Uasin Gishu counties. Every dairy farmer was required to donate ‘capital levy’ which was to oversee the development of the KCC Company in the entire North and South Rift regions. When I hear some government officials claiming that they want farmers to buy shares in the New KCC, I get irritated because KCC belongs to all farmers who participated in establishing it,” she reiterates. “Leaders must realise that some of us already have share certificates. I used to receive dividends from the Kenya Commercial Bank and I have been wondering why the government has been asking us to buy shares from the New KCC. Whom are we buying from? KCC is ours. It belongs to all the farmers in the entire region,” she notes. The former Kenya Co-operative Creameries Limited was created as a cooperative society owned by dairy farmers. However due to mismanagement, the organisation incurred huge debts from the Kenya Commercial Bank and was placed under receivership. The government bought the firm from KCC 2000 at a cost of KSh547million in 2002. Currently the New KCC is grappling with financial constraints despite having assets accruing to KSh5.8 billion. While Saina’s limbs are getting weak with each passing day, many more large and small scale farmers are aging away. The begging question then is; what is the future of food security in the country?

From top: Kogo Sarah Saina outside her home. Saina’s tea plantation. Dairy cattle that Saina keeps in her farm. The Head of State Commendation Award given to Kogo Sarah Saina by President Mwai Kibaki in December 2007. Photos: Gladys Yator

Climate change leaves Tanzania women destitute

…By Kenyan Woman Correspondent in Tanzania

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omen living in regions badly affected by floods say the phenomenon has made them to lag behind economically. They say the floods have destroyed their only source of livelihoods and income earning ventures, yet, there are few institutions willing to give them resources to recover. The most affected are women in flood prone regions of Dar es Salaam, Tanga, Mbeya, Morogoro, Arusha, Rukwa, Iringa, Kigoma and Lindi. Those from Dar es Salaam, the capital city of Tanzania say that due to floods, they have lost a lot of property including business wares. “Floods really affected me. I lost

my property and many of the things that were helping me earn a livelihood,” says Abdallah Omary, a resident of Kinondoni Municipal. Another resident, Hawa Abdallah, a student, says she lost her books and uniform and this affected her ability to continue with education. “I will not forget this day when my family and I lost everything that mattered. It was also the time I witnessed a friend being carried away with floods never to be found. This has continued to affect me psychologically,” says Abdallah. Women in the affected areas say they lost their only capital during the floods, making it difficult to rise again to where they had reached in terms of

uplifting themselves from poverty. Suajibu Abbas Rajabu, a resident of Magomeni Suna says that when water occupied the house she was living in, she lost her capital and the little savings that she had. “After the floods, I became bankrupt and I have been unable to continue with my business,” says Rajabu, a highly entrepreneurial woman.

Experts According to Dr Emmanuel Mpeta, head of Research and Applied Meteorology at the Tanzania Meteorological Agency, climate change has had devastating effects on the wellbeing of humanity but women have been most affected.

He says those living in areas that are prone to floods usually suffer major effects on livelihoods because of human activities such as small and large scale agriculture, extraction of mineral, overgrazing and poor planning of residential areas. Mpeta says that floods hit hard on women because they destroy crops which are the main source for food in rural areas. When this happens, men migrate to cities to look for jobs, leaving behind their wives to shoulder the burden of fending for the children. “The only positive thing about floods is the fertile soils left behind which the women can use to farm and realize good harvest,” says Mpeta.

He gave examples of Kilosa District in Morogoro and Mpwapwa District in Dodoma where such fertile soils have been left behind after flooding. Mpeta advices the people living in areas which are experiencing floods to move to higher ground and urges the Government to help in relocating them. Other climate change experts have proposed that the Government of Tanzania put up a fund to help the people affected by the floods, especially women, to recover the climate change effects. If this does not happen, they warn, cases of sex for food and HIV infections are likely to go up as the women go into commercial sex work to fend for their families.


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Issue Number 31 • October 2012

Advancing women’s right to land and property …By Yusuf Amin

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n organisation advocating for the rights of women in the country is conducting a programme that seeks to educate women on how they can fight for their land and property rights. Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA) Kenya has embarked on programme known as Community Dialogue Forum which focuses on how women can enjoy their rights under the new constitution. Addressing women during a seminar in Kilifi town, Faith Alubbe, a project officer with the organisation said that women have been undermined for a long time especially when it comes to inheritance of family land.

Objective “The main aim of the programme is to bring women and men to help fight against retrogressive practices that sideline women in the community,” Alubbe said. She urged women in Kilifi County to come out clearly and address land issues without fear so that they can get equal shares as men when it comes to issues concerning land which she termed as sensitive. FIDA has noted with concern that

women’s rights to own land have been disregarded for a long time and that time has come for them to get their equal shares amicably by cooperating with men who had all the opportunity when it comes to land ownership. Alubbe lamented that the organisation is investigating ten cases in Kilifi, seven cases in Machakos and five cases in Kakamega where rights of women in land issues have been violated.

Equal share The cases are being handled by the organisation so that women can get their equal share and resolve longstanding conflicts arising from retrogressive traditions. Alubbe expressed optimism that the affected women will reclaim their lost share during inheritance since the new constitution give equal rights when it comes to land ownership. Mangi Mitsanze, a Kaya elder from Ganze said that the new constitution guaranteed everyone’s rights and urged women not to fear and come out clearly to seek for them. He promised to conduct civic education in Ganze District so that men can get rid of the notion that women cannot inherit land. “We should cooperate with wom-

A group of women who attended a sensitization meeting organized by FIDA in Kilifi to sensitize them on land rights as enshrined in the Constitution. The Constitution now gives equal rights when it comes to land ownership. Below:Faith Alubbe, a project officer with FIDA. Photos: Yusuf Amin

en’s organisations in advocating for women rights so that they can get equal share of land and other properties,” Mitsanze said.

Constitution FIDA also asked the women to read the Constitution as well as the National Land Act and Land Registration Act so that they can know of their rights as enshrined in the Constitution. Hilda Mzungu who represented

women with disabilities at the seminar said that for a long time people living with disability had been sidelined when it came to sharing of family land. Mzungu lamented that disabled persons had been termed as people who could not take up responsibilities. She urged organisations fighting for the rights of the disabled to come out clearly and help them acquire land. She noted that they were not be-

ing involved in development projects in the society. “Leaders in this region should respect the rights of the people with disabilities in line with the Constitution,” Mzungu observed.

Women bank fails to deliver to women

…By Rose Japhet

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hen the Government of Tanzania decided to establish the women’s bank that would enable them access credit without major collateral requirements, there was ululation in the country. The women, who constitute about 60 per cent of the people living below the poverty line, were finding it next to impossible to access the credit. The women’s banks were designed to help uplift women from poverty by extending loans to them to start income generating activities without requirements of collateral. Besides providing loans, the initiative was also designed to improve the women’s management skills and business acumen.

Initiated It all started in 1999, when a group of women entrepreneurs from all across Tanzania floated the idea of having a “Women’s Bank” to the then President of the United Republic of Tanzania, Benjamin William Mkapa, at the Dar es Salaam International Trade Fair organised by the Equal Opportunities for All Trust Fund (EOTF) and Federation of Association of Women Entrepreneurs in Tanzania (FAWETA). Their argument was for the establishment of a bank whose interest rates, schemes and policies favoured women empowerment. The government acted on this, and agreed to establish the Women Bank. However, it was not until 2007 when the Tanzania Women’s Bank was created, incorporated and registered as a limited liability company with a shareholding structure comprising of 97 per cent Government and three per cent

private individuals and entities. In 2009, the bank started its business. By April 2012, the bank whose aim was to empower Tanzania women had 22,339 account holders. Of this, 5,270 have already received their first loans.

Relevance However, despite its good intentions, questions are being asked about the bank’s relevance towards emancipation of women from abject poverty. In recent times, the bank has been behaving like any other bank, asking for collateral and other stipulating conditions that have ended in denying women access to credit. “What is called Tanzania Women Bank is not for women, it is a bank like any other which are currently are operating in the country,’’ laments Ananilea Nkya, a human rights and gender activist. Nkya, who is the Executive Director for Tanzania Media Women’s Association notes that a bank that will serve the needs of the poor Tanzania women is yet to be established. “I would like to urge women in the country to continue with their traditional means of saving money including their group arrangements. They can then use this money to start small business.” Nkya, who is visibly angered by how the Tanzania Women Bank is operating, says women should stop thinking about the bank and find other sources of funding friendlier to them. “How can a government establish a bank with such requirements for Tanzanian women to access loans then tell women that it’s their bank? posed Nkya. Husna Kidawa Mwanakombo Mbarouk says she was shocked when asked about a list of

things she was expected to fulfil before getting a loan. “I cried, but no one seemed to listen to me.” “I left and have never gone back to that bank,” says the distraught 52-year-old Mbarouk. Some of the requirements and conditions which the bank requires the women to fulfil that have rubbed the gender advocates the wrong way include: • Provide audited accounts for three years; • Tax clearance certificate (for large businesses); • Board resolution to borrow from Tanzania Women Bank; • Current valuation report for collaterals; • Current orders from your customers; • Business plan/business proposal; • TIN certificate; • Loan term six-36 months; • Certificate of registration;

Challenges To get a loan, one is also required to be in permanent employment or on contract of not less than one year; produce three recent salary slips; identity card supported by an introduction letter from employer; guarantee from employer; and loan amount 12 times monthly net salary. It is these requirements that Rita Kabati of Chama Cha Mapinduzi says are making it difficult for women in her Iringa area to enjoy the promised benefits. “I feel frustrated since the women in my area are asking me to tell them why they have failed to be supported by the bank since it was established,” notes Kabati. She says: “You can’t believe that even I failed to get loan from the bank despite being a wom-

an and Member of Parliament due to these requirements. That is why I say, we women MPs need to do something about the bank.”

Political solution Kabati who is also a member of the Parliamentary Committee on Social Services reiterates: “You know, this bank was established as political strategy to win the women votes, but it is not really for women. Many MPs are finding it difficult to explain to their constituents when asked why they cannot access loans from the bank.” Kabati is planning to take the bank’s officials to her constituency so that they can explain and answer the questions of women and young people are asking about the bank and its operations. The concern among many MPs is that the bank is not operating the way they had been promised, especially in helping poor women and young entrepreneurs to get funds to finance their ideas.

Exclusion According to Charles Kayoka, a gender and human rights activists, the Government failed to categorise the clients to benefit from the bank in order for it to serve the needs of even the poor women without collateral. To Kayoka, the Government was supposed to investigate the root cause of women’s poverty by undertaking a research, whose findings should have guided the establishment and operations of the bank. “Critical issues such as religious beliefs, tradition and cultural practices and society attitudes towards women empowerment should have been addressed before taking this decision,’’ says Kayoka.


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Issue Number 31 • October 2012

Kitui women cook their way out of poverty …By Nzinga Muasya

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group of women in Nuu Division in Kitui County, which is ordinarily dry and famine stricken have come up with a noble way of making ends meet in these harsh economic times. The group known as Kwithesya, which in the local dialect would loosely translate into “stay clean” has for the past three years been offering catering and cleaning services during public and private functions. The 17women do not have to break their backs under the scorching sun breaking stones into ballast like their colleagues who view this as the only option of making a living in the sun baked region. “We started in 2009 as a merry-go-round initiative of 17 members but over time we have grown to venture into catering and cleaning services,” says Martha Muema, chairlady of the group. They had to think outside the box to beat the vagaries of escalating poverty in the region. “The vicious cycle of poverty was making life in this area hopeless until we decided to form a group and help ourselves in the little way we could,” explains Muema.

Strategy Every month, the members who comprise of married and widowed women in their 40s and 50s would pool their resources together, buy household items and goats for the each member. They would also save some little money. Within one year each member had at least two milk goats. Muema says that the fruits of their unity became evident and the women resolved to stick together. Before long they started offering catering services. It is this venture that has transformed their lives and made the group known. During weddings, harambees, burials or even political rallies, the women are hired to cook for invited guests and other attendants. Muema says all the members are accomplished cooks. During such functions, the

women dressed in their uniforms prepare food, arrange tables and serve the visitors. When the function is over, they clean all the utensils. They charge KSh4,000 which is paid in advance or immediately after they render their services. The group has a bank account where all their proceeds go.

Success The group’s fame has spread like bushfire within the entire Nuu Division and its environs. It is easy to find them invited in all major events happening in The chairlady Martha Muema (Second right) with members of Kwithesya group in Kitui. Below: the locality. To maximise on profits the group Members of the group wash dishes after a function in Kitui. The group is currently in engaging in bought a giant tent worth KSh115,000 catering and cleaning services to eke out a living. Photo: Nzinga Muasya. in 2011 out of their savings. They hire out the tent for KSh3,000 per day. “Most of the times people hire the “We know each other very well and we tonyi who is a member of the group. During tent and invite us to cook for their visitors. That the burial the group provided their tent and cannot risk registering new people who might translates to KSh7,000 as total fee for the group,” cooked for over 2,000 mourners who attended find our way of operation rather difficult, thus Muema says. Alternatively clients hire only the the burial. brewing discord and divisions among the tent but still that means there is a constant flow members. Our membership is sealed,” says of cash into the group’s account. Muema. The women reveal that in lean times they atFredina Damaris who is the trustee of the “However, we are ready and willing to offer tend to at least two functions in a month, add- group says they are not restricted to Nuu di- other women free advice on how to start their ing that other times demand for their services vision. She says when invited outside Kitui own income generating initiatives,” she adds. can be high. The tent however is hired regularly, County, they avail themselves. The women adat least three times in a month even when the here to a strict code of conduct and any memgroup is not accompanying it. On the future plans of the group, Muema ber who shows slight indiscipline is promptly When the group is attending any of their penalised. says they will soon buy more tents and chairs member’s events, they do not charge any fee “We meet every Monday at the Nuu mar- because as she puts it, it is a viable venture. apart from KSh200 to replenish their account. ket at 4.00 pm to take stock of our activities and “All our members are assured of putting This is what happened during the recent burial plan on our future. Any member who misses food on the table and paying school fees for of Kilonzi Maluki, husband to Elizabeth Ka- the meetings without apology is fined KSh200. their children,” Muema asserts. According to Katanu Kaivilu, who is the Anyone who attends our functions without unitreasurer, the group has transformed her life. form is reprimanded and fined KSh100,” says “All our members are “Being a member of this group has enabled Damaris. me to achieve a lot. I have my own goats and Time keeping is a virtue every member assured of putting food on should adhere to. Those who attend the func- besides I can afford to pay school fees for my children who would normally be out of school the table and paying school tions late have to part with a fine of KSh50. It is this discipline that has made the wom- for lack of fees,” she says. fees for their children.” The unity in these women is paying off and en achieve a lot in three years and become the — Martha Muema, the chairlady of envy of their counterparts in Kitui County. they have vowed to hold tightly to their goose Kwithesya group which lays the golden egg. The group has no place for new members.

Discipline

Plans


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Issue Number 31 • October 2012

Despite common market, women traders face tremendous challenges

…By Jane Godia

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hile the East African Community federation was meant to make things easy for citizens of member states, ignorance and lack of information continue to characterise a majority of women traders. Further, this comes amidst allegations, by a significantly high number of women informal traders of harassment and non-conformity to what has been laid down on paper, creating insurmountable challenges for those keen on taking their businesses across what should be porous borders in as far as EAC is concerned. Trade along the common borders of the East African region remains challenging to women from all the concerned countries. Even with the East African Common Markets in place, women continue to complain of harassment from officials across the divide who reign on their ignorance and make demands that include bribes and sexual favours.

Impediments Women traders across the borders who were interviewed by the East Africa Sub-Regional Support Initiative for the Advancement of Women (EASSI) noted that the police, as well as the customs and immigration officials were not making life easy for them. The women said they did not understand what the common markets protocol was all about because if the same officials who were supposed to ease their movement across the common borders are the same ones asking for bribes and sexual favours. “The officials tell you that they will help you and pull you aside, then they start demanding funny things,” said one woman trader in Busia town along the border of Kenya and Uganda. In a documentary Beyond Boundaries, the women complained that even some officials were asking them not to stock goods that have been manufactured in other countries within the East African region.

Rationale The East African Community member states set up a common market as an arrangement where member countries of a regional economic community such as the East African Community (EAC) could operate as a single market for goods, services, labour and capital, having common tax and common trade laws. A common market integrates markets of the factors of production — labour, land, capital, entrepreneurship — in respective partner states into one single market. The objective of the common market is to accelerate economic growth and development of partner states; strengthen, coordinate and regulate the economic and trade relations among partner states; sustain the expansion and integration of economic activities within the community; promote common understanding and cooperation among nationals of the partner states for economic and social development; and enhance research and technological advancement to accelerate economic and social development. The East African Common Market Protocol was signed on November 2009, was fully ratified in April

2010 before coming into force on July 1, 2010. It provides four freedoms and two rights: These include free movement of goods; free movement of persons; free movement of services; free movement of capital; right to residency; right to establishment.

Free trade However, according to Ronald Inyangala, an Assistant Director of Social Affairs at the Ministry of East African Community, while the protocol is good, challenges still abound. Trade volumes have increased among partner states and many of the citizens are free to work in any of the countries. Kenya and Rwanda allow East Africans free access to their job market. However, Tanzania still demands that one pays for a work permit. While working might be easy, trade among the members states remains challenging especially for the women who do small scale and informal businesses. “Common market has made doing business in Kenya easier. The East African Community economy has climbed to rank 115 out of 183 bloc economies,” explains Inyangala. He adds: “The market size for the bloc is 133.1 million people with a combined Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of $79,231 by 2010.” Inyangala appreciates that indeed the women traders, who are small scale business people do face a number of challenges.

Obstacles “Challenges and barriers to cross border trade include inadequate capital or finances; customs and traditions of some communities; family obligations; language barrier; lack of or inadequate necessary skills, competencies or training; inadequate information; non tariff barriers (NTBs) which are bureaucratic bottlenecks; marketing challenges and poor infrastructure. “For small scale women traders, these challenges are bound to be huge because many of them have not gone to school and have issues with language they are going to use,” says Inyangala. He adds: “They also have problems with access to information so they may not know that there is a

Cross border trade: The trade volume has increased among East African member states and many of the citizens are free to work in any of the countries. Common Market already in place.” Inyangala was speaking at a national advocacy meeting on gender, trade and women empowerment in the EAC region organised by the East African Sub-regional Support Initiative for Advancement of Women (EASSI) and Caucus for Women’s Leadership and attended by various women’s organisations and government ministries.

Initiative EASSI is implementing a project titled Empowering Women Informal Traders in East African Common Market that has the goal of increasing trade opportunities for women informal traders in the East African common Market. The project’s expected outcomes include enhanced coordination of support efforts to women in trade at policy level; improved knowledge of trade issues among women in EAC partner states; and to establish women in business associations at local level. Just the fact that they lack access to information on the East African Common Markets, women in informal trade continue using ungazetted border routes that bars them from excelling in cross-border trade.

Missing link According to Rosemary Okello, Executive Director African Woman and Child Feature Service, unless the East African Community Secretariat and ministries entrench gender policies in the Common Market Protocol, they will not realise the potential of women small scale traders in the region. “It is the women who ensured the East African integration existed and continued to thrive through the panya or ungazetted routes trade,” says

Okello. She notes: “It is sad that this trade has not been recognised and enumerated within the overall potential of EAC.” Okello reiterates that this will only work “if each country enumerates in its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) the work of small scale women traders because then they will be able to tell how much they have contributed to the integration.” According to Okello, if there is are proper mechanisms put in place to ensure women’s potential and ability as well as address the challenges they are facing such as barrier to trade and lack of access to information, being asked for sexual favours will be a thing of the past.

Loopholes “It is because of ignorance of the Common Market Protocol that government officials are taking advantage of the women’s lack of information to enhance the use of ungazzetted routes yet they are the ones who are supposed to enlighten the women,” observes Okello. She notes that it is only then that the East African Community integration and the Common Market benefits will be realised at the household level. “There is need for specific awareness campaign targeting small scale women traders so that they can realise their rights for trade within the common borders,” observes Okello. Her sentiments are echoed by Faith Kasiva, Executive Director African Gender and Media Initiative (GEM) who says that there is need for advocacy at the national level to engage the relevant ministries so they can sensitise their officers against sexual harassment of women traders. “They should also issue a policy or

“There is need for specific awareness campaign targeting small scale women traders so that they can realize their rights for trade within the common borders.” — Rosemary Okello, the Executive Director of African Woman Child Feature Service

decree in regard to women and trade as well as how they should be treated,” notes Kasiva. According to Kasiva, the Ministry of Trade or East African Community can be the entry point of engaging with the Kenya Revenue Authority, Ministry of Immigration, National Security Intelligence Service (NSIS) officials. She notes that they can also work with a partner within the civil society who can then directly engage forums for women in cross border trade that will discuss opportunities and challenges and how they can work together to promote women’s participation in the EAC market. “The partner should create a platform for interaction between the women and the EAC ministries and also look for other partners within the member state countries to bring women to share experiences,” notes Kasiva.

Interaction According to Kasiva, the partner will not start at zero level but should bring in other organisations such as EASSI and Trademark among others as well as East African Community officials and the donor community to tell the women what they can do to trade better. “This forum can also bring in financiers such as the African Development Bank, the African Women Development Fund among others who can make the women understand financing opportunities that are available for them within the region,” says Kasiva. In ensuring that the women are not sexually harassed a gender policy that will include legal mechanisms to help them access justice would be required. Okello reiterates: “A complaints office should be established backed by proper dispute resolution mechanisms so that women are able to get justice on the spot instead of offering sexual favours.” It is, therefore, important that women who are in trade be made to know that it is no longer illegal to do trade across the borders of the East African Community member states.


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Issue Number 31 • October 2012

Fatou Bensouda

Challenges ahead as she takes up the highest position in prosecution …By Obed Boafo

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n Friday June 15, 2012, Gambian-born international criminal justice Lawyer Fatou Bensouda rose to the highest position of Chief Prosecutor, at the International Criminal Court (ICC), in The Hague, Netherlands. She becomes the first African to hold the position since the establishment of the ICC about ten years ago. The ICC’s mandate is to prosecute individuals for genocide crimes against humanity, war crimes, and the crime of aggression. Bensouda’s accession is, and will for years to come be a significant representation not only for her as a person but for the continent she comes from, and where she learnt the ropes of becoming a good Lawyer — Africa.

Pressure Her rise to the position comes at a time when the ICC is facing a lot of pressure from the African Union for what the union feels, is the international court’s lack of even-handedness in dealing with cases from the region, and how the ICC can do a lot to prove its innocence over claims of selective justice perceived by some of member states of the AU. It is a very difficult subject that puts Bensouda in a very tough and tight corner. Over the next few days at post, a lot of eyes will be on her, ostensibly to gauge how she will respond directly or indirectly to the concerns of the Africa Union, and sections of civil society, on calls for the ICC to be fair in dealing with all subjects. But the ICC’s critics may also admit that the call for a fair and balanced court at that highest point of international geopolitics go way beyond the doorstep of Bensouda, as it usually takes more than just the effort of one person at the ICC to take such decisions, to be seen as being fair or not.

West Imperialism “Although many Africans consequently feel that the court is an imperialist vehicle, controlled by the West and intent on undermining sovereignty on the continent, there is also a significant body of thought that Africa should be proud to be at the forefront of international criminal justice. “Bensouda needs to use her reportedly excellent diplomatic skills to restore confidence in this perspective, to include the African Union in her decision-making, and to rebuild relations after the ‘patronizing’ tone African leaders accuse her predecessor of adopting,” says Afua Hirsch, West African correspondent for The Guardian. But on the flipside, Bensouda knows that she can’t completely do away with that threat, as she will have to somehow, live with it — just as her predecessor and former Argentinean boss Luis Moreno-Ocampo who held the position for close to nine years, did. There are suggestions that she will be a better Chief Prosecutor than Moreno-Ocampo was, and there are even stretched arguments pointing to a ‘new, fair and more improved ICC under her watch’.

Kenya to establish a women scientists’ grant …By George Achia & Maureen Odiwuor

Expectations are high for the Gambian woman who before this appointment was deputy chief prosecutor (since 2004) at the ICC. Already, she has shot down suggestions she is going in to do Africa’s bidding. The ICC is recognised by some 121 countries, meaning over the time that she is going to be at the helm of affairs, she will have to take very critical decisions that may have to, sit well with each signatory to the statute that established the ICC, and not only the AU. “As I begin my tenure, moving forward in consolidating current practices, the office will continue to forge ahead with its investigations and prosecutions,” she said. “I am an African and I am very proud of that. But I think it is not because I am an African that I was chosen for this position. I think my track record speaks for myself...I Lawyer Fatou Bensoud, the newly appointed Chief Prosecutor of the have been endorsed by the African International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague, Netherlands. She Union, but I am a prosecutor for 121 states parties and this is what becomes the first African to hold the position since the establishment of the ICC about ten years ago I intend to be until the end of my mandate.” best hope for justice,” said Richard very hard to “restore transparency to She promised to make victims of crime her priority, a call most hu- Dicker, International Justice Direc- the internal and external practices of the ICC”. man rights activist have lauded her tor at Human Rights Watch. “We look to Bensouda’s leaderPart of the reason why Morenofor, and will be hoping that she does ship to advance cases, build bridges Ocampo had a difficult time at the exactly that. with victims, and push countries to ICC appealing to critics some have support its impartial application of said, was his poor human relations, In the next few days, her most the law to get the job done,” he noted. and also leadership style that many However, close aides to Bensou- thought, wasn’t transparent enough immediate task will be to “resolve the standoff with Libya, which placed da have said her reputation for con- especially in the area of decision some ICC envoys in ‘’preventive de- trolling calm and sensitivity will put making. tention’ for 45 days during investiga- her in good stead to meet the chaltions into alleged threats to Libya’s lenges squarely and head-on. It is expected that with Bensou“Will she wave a magic wand national security by the former North da’s considerable experience in naand cure all the difficulties that African leader’s son Saif al-islam, and tional criminal prosecutions, comexist at the ICC at the moment? former spy chief, Abdullah al-Senussi. pany management and diplomatic No. Can she bring positive dispoAlready, this looks like a task half done for Bensouda due to the sition over time to transforming work, she would build a workable backing the ICC has received from the polluted atmosphere in which and well-oiled prosecutions system human rights groups, who have the institution has been operating for launching investigations and isin Africa? Absolutely,” says Chidi suing arrest warrants, especially in strongly condemned Libya. Other challenges such as get- Odinkalu, chairman of the Nige- cases where she acts proprio motu — relying on her personal judgting Arab countries to sign up to the rian Human Rights Commission. ment than anybody else’s. “Fatou brings a different set of Rome Statue that established the ICC, Born in Banjul in 1961 to a poskills and temperament from her prethe prosecution of six prominent Kenyan figures for post-election be- decessor and that is a positive thing... lygamous family, Fatou Bensouda tween 2007 and 2008, presiding over Fatou’s accession gives the ICC an obtained her Bachelor of Law degree the case of Laurent Gbagbo, as well as opportunity to redeem relationships from the University of Ife in Nigeria. violations by forces loyal to the oust- with victims’ communities, show She later qualified as Barrister-at-Law ed Ivorian leader, among a tall list of them that it is capable of caring — (BL) from the Nigeria Law School. cases including that of several African she inherits a situation in which the She also worked as Legal Adviser and countries, would occupy her mind ability to be deeply nuance is needed Trial Attorney at the International over the next few months as Chief and if she has those skills, which she Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. She became Gambia’s first expert seems to, that will be an asset,” noted Prosecutor. in international maritime law after Odinkalu. Although the challenge ahead acquiring a Master of Laws from “Fatou is someone who is ready looks daunting, it appears the presthe International Maritime Law Into listen and provide answers. You sure from a good number of civil society institutions including the Human can sense that this is a different re- stitute in Malta, and in December Rights Watch, for the ICC to purge gime from the past, that she wants 2011, she became the choice to serve itself from ‘a very dark past’, will spur to listen, and to have a dialogue,” as the next prosecutor of the ICC by consensus. She is a former governsays erudite lawyer Alpha Sesay. her on to rise to the occasion. Changing the way the ICC oper- ment civil servant, who served as “In Syria and other strife-torn countries over the past 10 years, the ates and is perceived some have said, Solicitor-General of Gambia, as well ICC has come to symbolize the last, will also mean Bensouda working as Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, advising both the President and Cabinet of the Gambia. That task of straightening up “Although many Africans consequently ‘things’ in Yahya Jammeh’s Government, was very unpleasant as she had feel that the court is an imperialist vehicle, to constantly put up explanations controlled by the West and intent on as to why the West African country couldn’t stop the numerous human undermining sovereignty on the continent, abuses committed by her presithere is also a significant body of thought that rights dent. All that is in the past now, as the Africa should be proud to be at the forefront 51 year old mother of two, looks to of international criminal justice.” greater heights.

Pressing task

Experience

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omen have been missing out in the field of science making the number of female scientists to be lower compared to their male counterparts. However, this is set to end as the Kenyan government will establish a women scientists’ grant to bring female researchers at par with their male counterparts in conducting research relevant to the country. This was said by Moses Rugutt, Deputy Secretary in the Ministry of Higher Education Science and Technology. Rugutt said this when he addressed the African Science Journalist Conference (ASJC) held in Nakuru recently. He said that the National Council of Science and Technology already has plans for the Government to award female researchers with grants of upto KSh3 million towards the cause.

Untapped potential “Participation of women in research has been low in many developing countries due to negative social and cultural practices which have not allowed full exploitation of their potential,” noted Rugutt during the ASJC opening gala. He said that national development depends on a well trained technical labour force especially in science and technological areas, something that Kenya did not have. “Kenya still lags behind in technical human capacity required to unlock the huge potential within its agricultural fields, drive its industries and build the necessary infrastructural development that the other sectors will depend on for take-off and to launch into knowledge-based economy sphere,” he said. Rugutt called for the need to lobby for at least one Per cent GDP investment in research if Kenya has to reap the full potential of science, technology and innovation for socio-economic development.

Shun The policy maker noted that women in many developing countries still shy away from the field of scientific research due to a negative attitude formed while growing up. He pointed out that most countries were facing challenges in the science, technology and innovation sectors with lack of motivation, role models and nor responsive culture besides the lack of adequate funding and undeveloped infrastructure. However, Prof Margaret Kamar, Minister for Higher Education, later announced that Cabinet had already approved two per cent of the national GDP towards science, technology and innovation.

Platform He challenged science journalists attending the ASJC to help push the science, technology and innovation agenda to enable African countries use science and technology as a platform to steer up her economic development. According to Rugutt, there is need to engage science journalists in effectively articulating science, technology and innovation issues by disseminating research information on STI, setting national and regional STI agenda and exposing scientific malpractices. Many developing countries of the world have used ST&I to drive their development agenda based on sound research, and innovative technological. “Our women still believe that science is a male investment dominated field which should not be the case as both sexes are capable of being scientifically productive,” reiterated Rugutt.


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Issue Number 31 • October 2012

Call for women to go for cervical cancer screening …By Maurice Alal

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hen Mary Ajuok*, 30, walked into Kombewa District Hospital in Kisumu County to undergo a cervical cancer screening on December 8, last year, she had no idea of what it was all about. She had gone to the hospital following advice from a close friend Christine Nyambok who had undergone a similar test at the health facility. Ajuok, a mother of four, had never heard of cervical cancer before and could not see herself as a victim of any type of cancer since she did not smoke, a factor that she strongly believed was the only cause of cancer.   After three years of unsuccessfully trying to treat what seemed like recurrent Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) using local herbs and over the counter antibiotics coupled with strained relationship between her and her husband, Ajuok finally decided to share her predicaments with a friend amidst fear of village gossip should a word about her condition come out of her friend’s mouth.

Stigma “I suffered silently because my husband could no longer share a bed with me because of the stench and I feared to go to hospital since all the workers who also live in our village would expose my status,” she lamented.   However, the Government through the Ministry of Medical Services declared 2011, the year they would fight Prostate, Breast and Cervical cancers by intensifying diagnosis, treatment and care of survivors throughout the country.  This was soon after the Minister for Medical Services, Prof Peter Anyang Nyong’o, returned from San Francisco in the United States where he had gone to seek treatment for prostate cancer.

Campaign Nyong’o successfully went through radiotherapy and decided to launch a personal awareness creation campaign on cancer. The Government then declared to ensure Kenyans find the services in various local hospitals. Back at Kombewa District Hospital, the Cervical Cancer Prevention programme (CECAP) kicked off in November, 2011 to sensitize the community and provide training to health workers from Kisumu West District on screening and management of cervical cancer. Since then the programme has continued to attract hundreds of women like Ajuok and Nyambok to the facility to undergo screening for early detection of cancerous cells.

Treatment Although Nyambok tested negative, Ajuok tested positive and has enrolled for treatment and care at the facility.  “I am glad I took a positive step to come for screening which has made me know what has been ailing me all this while and I have began treatment,” says Ajuok .   According to Dr Stephen Oyule CECAP Coordinator, the programme which targets women of reproductive age of between 20 to 49 years is sponsored by Walter Reed Kisumu Project and is integrated within the larger research mandate of the institution. Oyule says the screening which targets to reach 70 per cent of women of reproduc-

tive age in Kisumu West District will not only focus on cervical cancer but will provide an opportunity to test and treat other reproductive health diseases given that the cervix is an external organ and other diseases especially STDs can be easily detected during screening.

Drugs He noted that the health facility will l need to stock adequate drugs for treatment of patients found to be suffering from various reproductive health diseases. He said they are working in conjunction with the Hospice for support of cancer patients. “We don’t know exactly what causes cervical cancer but certain risk factors are believed to have an effect. Medical history and lifestyle, especially sexual habits, play a role in a woman’s chances of developing cervical cancer,” observes Oyule. At the launch of the CECAP programme, Nyong’o stressed on the need for male involvement in the fight against cervical cancer by getting circumcised. He noted that male circumcision reduces chances of infection of cervical cancer on women.

Screening Cervical cancer screening is not only a mystery to majority of women but also wrongly perceived to be an expensive and time consuming undertaking. A victim could stay for years with minimum discomfort. Most women do not go for screening and only seek medication when the cancerous cells have turned malignant. As part of regular pelvic examination, women of reproductive age should have a Pap Smear test performed. This cervical screening takes only three minutes and is provided free of charge in public health facilities. Oyule urged women to undergo screening regularly to avoid losing their wombs to cancer due to negligence “Women who go

Mary Ajuok in yellow t-shirt sells fish at Kombewa market in Kisumu County. She has been in the business over the last ten years. Photo: Maurice Alal for regular screening are likely to diagnose changes in cervical cells usually caused by a virus called Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) early,” explains Oyule. He adds: “They can then find and treat changes in the cervical cell to prevent cervical cancer.” He stresses that cervical cancer if detected early can be cured.

Triggers Oyule says there are 46 genetic types of HPV, but not all of them are dangerous. Only certain types of HPV, which can be transmitted from one person to another during sexual contact, increase the risk of cell dysplasia (abnormal cell growth) or progression to cervical cancer.   The HPV types that produce  genital warts  (lesions that are raised and bumpy, or flat and almost impossible to see) are different from those that cause cervical cancer. However, women who have a history of genital warts have almost twice the risk of an abnormal Pap Smear as other women. Women who smoke are about twice as likely to develop cervical cancer as compared to those who do not. “The more a woman smokes the greater the risk,” says Oyule.

Diet Other factors contributing to cervical cancer include eating habits. A diet that doesn’t include ample amounts of fruits and vegetables can increase a woman’s risk of developing the disease. Oyule notes that a woman whose immune system is weakened has a higher-than-average risk of developing cervical lesions that could become cancerous. This includes women who are HIV-positive. This also includes women who have re-

ceived organ transplants and must take drugs to suppress the immune system so that the body won’t reject the new organ.

Variance However, treatment procedures like chemotherapy, radiation therapy and a hysterectomy are preferred for late stages of cervical cancer treatment and involves removal of tissues affected making the victim unable to have children.  Just like Ajuok, it is common to feel scared, sad, or angry after finding out that one has cervical cancer. However, it is important for one to find a support group in their area to share experience as this would make them feel better. Moreover, the primary challenge in the fight against cervical cancer lies squarely with individual’s utmost resolve to continuously seek medical examination and the need for the Government to invest in strengthening public health care systems and developing cancer treatment protocol that is currently lacking.

Regular Check-ups Like Nyong’o clearly puts it: “Do not wait for your body to take you to the hospital, you should instead take it.”   Ultimately, concerted efforts are required to reduce the high number of lives lost to cervical cancer especially among women in the rural area. This calls for partnership among stakeholders to ensure that not only sensitisation undertaken but also logistical and technical support availed to ensure provision of timely services. The CECAP programme which is supported by the Walter Reed Project through President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) has become a ray of hope to many rural women like Mary Ajuok who without the programme would have continued to suffer.

Executive Director: Rosemary Okello Editorial Director: Arthur Okwemba Managing Editor: Jane Godia

The Kenyan Woman is a publication of African Woman and Child Feature Service E-mail: info@awcfs.org www.awcfs.org

Sub-Editors:

Duncan Mboyah and Faith Muiruri

Contributors:

Adow Kalil, Odhiambo Orlale, Henry Kahara, Ben Oroko, Gladys Moraa, Richard Branson, Henry Owino, Waikwa Maina, Wilson Rotich, Yusuf Amin, Rose Japhet, Nzinga Muasya, Obed Boafo, Maurice Alal.

Design & layout: Noel Lumbama (Noel Creative Media Ltd)

This paper is produced with support from HIVOS

Kenyan Woman Issue 31  
Kenyan Woman Issue 31  

Kenyan Woman is a monthly publication of AWCFS

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