Africa UNiTE Kenya Chapter

Addressing issues of gender-based violence in Kenya

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By Catherine Githae (MenKen)

Last week marked the beginning of the much desired strengthened relationship between the RECs, CSOs and the UN system. Our countries are affiliated to various regional economic blocks and have consequently signed various protocols that often do not get effected at the community level especially those on gender equality and related issues. This was made possible through a forum organised by Sonke Gender Justice Network in conjunction with the UNFPA Regional Office in Africa and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) with support of the Swedish International Development Co-operation Agency (SIDA) and the UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women held on 27 and 28 November in Gaborone Botswana.

The meeting sought to strengthen partnership between UNFPA regional office, Sonke, the RECs and other organisations including the MenEngage country networks in order to support a scaling-up and widening in scope of gender equality programmes, strategies and models already known to be effective, particularly on engaging men, and to develop plans for integrating work with men into existing regional governmental mechanisms.The specific objectives of the meeting were to:
a)Discuss selected global and regional initiatives for the advancement of gender equality,
b) Strengthen the advocacy role of the RECs to better support Government in fulfilling their national, regional and international commitments for gender equality,
c)Disseminate and present on a policy brief on regional protocols and policies on GBV and HIV, with a focus on the engagement of men and boys,
d)Explore promising strategies on male involvement/develop strategies for strengthening work within the RECs on engaging men for gender equality and HIV and GBV prevention,
e)Mobilise political and financial resources for national ownership of the different initiatives and
f) Share information on the 2013 UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW).

The meeting brought together staff from the Gender Unit in the RECs in Africa (EAC, ECOWAS & SADC), as well as key UNFPA staff, Sonke staff, government representatives and partners from the MenEngage Africa network (MenKen and MAGE-SL). The above objectives were met and action plans developed on what would be done by the organisations represented to better the relationships with the RECs and their activities some of which included supporting the on-going scan of the regional policies, capacity building to the RECs on engaging men and boys in gender equality and partners joining regional coordinating bodies such as East African Civil Society Organisation Forum (EACSO) to better relate with the RECS amongst others. In general a need to have annual meetings with the RECs was identified and a small task force was identified to carry forward this agenda. The task force would have representation of the RECS, UNFPA-RO, MenEngage Africa (MenKen) and Civil society (SONKE and FEMNET). The forum also created an opportunity of meeting the Africa Unite Campaign Ambassador of Botswana, Ms.NeoThema who attended the meeting and took a picture with the EAC representatives and MenKen as well as shared her contacts ( for further networking.

It is indeed a call to all of us to examine the level of involvement of our organisations with the relevant RECs and interaction with the regional protocols including efforts to implement them at the community level.

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A Call to Urgent Action Now!

By Ann Njogu

I  would like to add my CONGRATULATIONS to  all of you especially the formidable steering team for a phenomenal accomplishment in pulling off an incredibly powerful National Launch! Looking at the photos, there is absolutely no doubt that this was in all ways and means most successful and most rewarding! The energy and synergy is palpable from the photos! The theme too is infectious and can set off a revolution! Last night at a panel discussion at the Human Rights Film Festival at the Alliance France, I  took the opportunity to spread the infection, campaign   and  theme  “If not now, when? If not you, who? If not here, where? Mimi. Wewe. Sisi. Hapa. Leo”  in a call to end violence and  discrimination against women and  girls ( including other minorities)!

My friends, I know we all  understand more than ever before the burden on our collective shoulders to scale up our work in ending VAWG coming  hot on the heels of this most  successful launch! I know as we get into  the 16 days of Activism  we shall spread this fire, lighting up every corner, every community, every group, every village with this urgent call! I know there are  vast activities and events that are  organized all around the country at this time,  on these critical days including all that’s stipulated in the outcomes of the launch! We must move with urgency! We must move  with speed ! We must move with the same passion and dynamism!

Yes, let us spread this infection around the country and around the continent! The Time to end VAWG is Now! The people to end it is Us! The place to end it is in Kenya, Africa and the World! The place to  start with is here in Kenya , lets take the infection to the counties, and from their spread the infection around the continent and world! This is the call to our generation! It is a call that we cannot and must never drop! It is a call to URGENT ACTION NOW!

Mimi. Wewe. Sisi. Hapa. Leo.

Ann Njogu is the Africa UNiTE Kenya Ambassador and the Chairperson for Centre for Rights Education and Awareness (CREAW), based in Nairobi. 

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Audit of Male Engagement in the Prevention of GBV and HIV in Kenya -by MenEngage Kenya Network (MenKen)

ImageThere is a great need to engage men and boys and more so in public policy as public policies and engagement with the public sector are central to achieving societal change in gender norms. It is essential to build a shared policy agenda on engaging men and boys among civil society, national policymakers and regional bodies. In addition policy initiatives have the potential to not only lead to larger-scale changes in men’s behaviours and attitudes relating to gender and health, but because policy is one of the collective forces that defines and sustains gender norms, they also have the potential to challenge social norms and institutional cultures that continue to perpetuate inequalities and violence.In order to achieve this and be most effective, policies should be “gender transformative” and ensure they do not reinforce negative societal values and norms. This report, in reflecting on the gaps and weaknesses within policies, seeks to make recommendations in relation to these areas. It is nevertheless important to remember that policies and laws alone cannot affect long term and sustained change. While they are an integral first step, they must be followed up by effective implementation. Even the best policy or law will be meaningless if its implementation is poorly executed. Such implementation should be stimulated, enforced and monitored by civil society, as policies alone will not achieve large-scale social change.


It is for this reason that MenEngage Kenya Network (MenKen) in conjunction with Sonke Gender Justice Network (SGJN) has carried out a desk research to provide a summary of whether laws and policies in Kenya seek to engage men and boys in achieving gender equality. This is an advocacy and programming tool, to strengthen a focus on engaging men for gender equality within national laws and policies. It is important for the national and regional civil society, policymakers and decision-makers to use this information to inform their work.


The report provides an analysis of whether policies, laws and plans in Kenya contain language relating to the proactive and progressive engagement of men and boys. It looks at four key areas which are critical for gender equality, namely: HIV and AIDS; Gender-Based Violence (GBV); Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR); and parenting. The analysis explores the policies’ strengths and weaknesses; and provides recommendations for how the policies can improve the way in which they include men and boys; account for their needs; enable them to support their partners, children and peers; and facilitate their role as advocates for change.


Preliminary findings indicate that Kenya has strong sexual and reproductive health (SRH) and parenting policies. However one of the weaknesses found was the lack of specific language to address the problems they recognize and articulate. A good example is in theNational Gender and Development Policy which acknowledges the role played by socialisation, but does not highlight the need to affect the socialisation processes that men experience or the ways in which men affect the socialisation processes of young boys. The policy also acknowledges that men have more rights and privileges than women but again unfortunately does not outline any work which would seek to engage men around being prepared to relinquish their privileges in order to achieve gender equality and gain the other benefits associated with the transformation of rigid gender norms.

Other examples are our National AIDS Strategic Plan (NSP) and gender-based violence (GBV) policies. While there are some positive aspects in the two blue prints, they generally fall short in terms of engaging with men and boys.

Generally, it is recommended that the policies, laws and plans utilize more specific language, and identify strategies to address the problems they recognize and articulate. It is especially important for policies to acknowledge the role played by gender norms and plan work which aims to address and transform gender norms. A part from the structural change to interventions the language had been found to be wanting where men and boys are concerned. An Example of recommended policy language on matters GBV would be: “Efforts will be made to engage with men to prevent GBV, so that men are able to feel a part of the solution rather than always being treated as a potential perpetrator. Work will be developed which aims to highlight for men the benefits of gender equality, as well as the costs of hegemonic masculinity to both men and women, their families and communities. Training will be planned with media personnel to sensitize them to the effects of perpetuating gender norms, and the possibilities of incorporating gender norms transformation work into the media”

MenKen in conjunction with Sonke Gender Justice Network and in partnership with UNWOMEN will disseminate the full report on the policy scan in forums and stakeholders in the coming month beginning with a high level dissemination during the 16 days of activism. Findings of the scans in relation to GBV and HIV were disseminated in the just concluded Africa Unite Kenya Chapter National Conference and launch. For more information please visit or or or contact

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1195: SGBV Toll-Free Hotline

Did you know that a 24hour toll-free hotline that responds to sexual and gender based violence exists in Kenya? Well, it does. The number to dial is 1195. Please tell all family and friends so that it can be put to use!

The hotline is operated by Healthcare Assistance Kenya (HAK), with support from various telecom agents such as Safaricom and Airtel. The goal of HAK’s SGBV hotline and the call up centre is to involve community members and survivors in the fight against sexual violence, FGM and other forms of violence that is meted on women and children by ensuring early reporting of all the cases within the recommended 72 hour window period. The endeavor is also to ensure that all other forms of violence are brought to an end by bringing in a platform that will enable community members to speak freely about the issues affecting them to enable HAK to find solutions for survivors faced with Sexual and Gender Based Violence.

HAK has been at the forefront in linking survivors of Sexual and Gender Based Violence with various hospitals nationally for medical management using an SMS system that enable survivors to access quick services for the purpose of preventing/treating infections such as HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. HAK also ensures that these cases are reported to relevant authorities by survivors to necessitate access to justice.  HAK is simply the voice for women and children distressed with SGBV issues in Kenya.

In light of the upcoming general elections, and every other SGBV case, the women’s hotline 1195 is very important to our nation.  The toll free hotline is aimed at empowering women and communities at large to break the silence on SGBV and embrace peace in homes. The women’s Toll Free Hotline 1195 enables survivors to speak up about their experiences and seek treatment and/or prevention of infections such as HIV and other sexually transmitted infections immediately.

Say a…BIG NO TO SGBV now with Kenya’s Sexual and Gender Based Violence silence breaker. Call 1195.

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About Us

Africa UNiTE is the regional component of the United Nations Secretary General’s Global Campaign and a continent-wide partnership to end all violence against women and girls. The rationale for the Africa component of the SG’s Campaign on violence against women is rooted in the commitments made by African countries through ratification of various international and regional instruments that specify obligations for the elimination of violence against women. The ultimate goal of Africa UNiTE is to mobilize and support governments in fulfilling their commitments to end violence against women and girls.

The Africa UNiTE, was launched on 30 January 2010 by the UN SG and the AUC Chairman. The Africa UNiTE Kenya Chapter Steering Committee was established as Kenya’s response to the Africa UNiTE campaign and, more particularly, provides a collective platform to a wide range of stakeholders including – government, civil society organizations, the private sector, the media and the entire UN system, to harmonize and synergize efforts towards raising public awareness, stimulating behavior change and increasing political will and resources for the prevention and response to all forms of violence against women and girls in the country.

The Africa UNiTE Kenya Chapter’s overall goal is to raise public awareness, stimulate behavior change, coordination for prevention activities and increase political will and resources to respond to national issues related to the following:

(i) The PREVENTION of violence against women and girls

(ii) The PROMOTION of justice and ending impunity

(iii) The PROVISION of services to survivors of violence

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