BUILDING MOMENTUM FROM 16DAYS OF ACTIVISM FOR SUSTAINABLE ADVOCACY AGAINST GBV

Yesterday, 10th December, 2014, was the last day of the 16 day activism Against GBV which officially started on November 25th 2015. This, however, does not mean that we stop discussing Gender Based Violence until the next official campaign on 25th November 2015. Instead, it means that we should continue building momentum and upholding the principles and values of non-violence in our homes, personal relationships, communities, regions and the world.

We have been ably led by UN Women to “orange” our hoods, we Kenyans who have established our niche as marathoners have organized a gender thon, we have hosted twitter chats, we have empowered survivors to speak about their experiences and share their stories to present an evidence base for our case and for them to individually speak and refuse to be silenced, we have petitioned the president to deliver for women , girls , boys and young people and ensure Kenya is free from violence directed towards people because of their Gender, Sexual orientation and/ or their dressing. We have demonstrated against the stripping of women in Kenya and even pressured the government to set up an anti-stripping police unit.

We have elaborately recited poems and deservedly poured accolades on people deemed champions in the fight against Gender Based Violence. We have elaborately pointed out the loopholes in our judicial systems that make it difficult to prosecute perpetrators of Gender Based Violence in terms of preserving evidence, the sentence provisions, the capacity of our law enforcement personnel as well their understanding of the procedures required, including being informed of due procedure. We have also discussed the engagement of men and boys in the fight against Gender Based Violence, with President Kagame of Rwanda leading the way as the first African president to sign up for the UN Women’s HeForShe Campaign. Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta has also enlisted his support for the campaign. We have made calls for actions, launched GBV policies, as is the case in my country Kenya, and called for policy coherence. At a global level, the UN, through the third committee, adopted a resolution on child, early and forced marriage.

We have discussed the wave of armed conflict and the rising menace of terrorism on the African Continent and the implication it has had on most countries’ women. We have highlighted the need for increased military spending to be accompanied with investments in basic human needs such as health care, especially maternal health. Facts have been shared by various UN Agencies to illustrate the fact that women and girls have been raped and their bodies used as weapons of war, the recent 20year Africa regional review of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action noted Violence Against Women as one of the challenges that continue to plague efforts towards the realization of Gender Equality and one where we make two steps forward only to make four steps backward. According to UN Women 40 percent of girls were coerced into their first sexual experience, 1 in 3 women and girls have or will experience physical, sexual and some form of gender based violence in their life time. We have also called for Violence Against Women to be strongly articulated in the post 2015 development agenda; the blue print that will dictate the discourse of world’s development for the next 15years. We are pursuing what we prefer to call sustainable development in our efforts to transform the world into a better place, with food, shelter, healthcare and jobs for everyone, while taking care of our fragile ecosystems in lieu of finite resources. The post 2015 development should guarantee a safer world for everyone, and more so women and girls.

The last day of 16 days of activism is wrapped up with the Human Rights Day, an opportune time to remind UN Member states that they affirmed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to join the UN Family. It would, however, suffice to say that Human rights should be guaranteed every day and not just emphasized on the 10th December. The Secretary General in his synthesis report that sums up processes that have defined the post 2015 development agenda thus far emphasizes the importance of human rights being applied across all issues to be articulated in the post 2015 development agenda.

Let us make it our business to fight inequalities every day, let us dedicate the fight against Gender Based Violence to an everyday affair. We should endeavor to build upon gains realized during the 16 days of activism to continue taking #ActionAgainstGBV and ensure that our aspiration for a GBV free world is realized.

 

 

Catherine is a Mandela Fellow 2016, Women Deliver Young Leader and member of Youth RISE International working group. Catherine is a passionate young African feminist activist with over 7 years of experience in advancing gender equality, youth development and sexual and reproductive health and rights in the context of sustainable development through movement building, digital and social media, policy advocacy and capacity building for young women and adolescents girls. Catherine is currently Deputy Director at Dandelion Kenya, and sits on the SDGs Kenya Forum coordination committee. Catherine has engaged with various global and regional policy processes such as ICPD Beyond 2014 review, Beijing +20 and the post 2015 development agenda. She co-authored the article ‘Leave No One Behind; Will African Women be left behind in the post 2015 development agenda ,an article published on the East African Business Monthly in February 2015. Catherine launched the #SRHRDialogues, an online advocacy and awareness raising platform on SRHR and #YAFDialogues, an online platform anticipated to be a permanent mobilizing platforms borne out of an African feminist dialogue 2015 in Accra. Follow her on Twitter: @catherinenyamb1

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