Delegates and participants at the 2nd National Gender Based Violence Conference.
The 2nd National Gender Based Violence Conference organized by UN Women and Africa Unite Kenya took place on 3rd and 4th December 2015 at Panari Hotel Nairobi. The conference brought together more than 200 participants on Gender Based Violence (GBV) issues from different sectors including Government, Judiciary, Gender Commissions, police, prison services, health, organizations working with GBV issues, County Gender and Youth Officers from 40 counties among others. The conference was held in the spirit of 16 Days of activism which begins on 25th November to 10th December every year.
The two day conference themed: Framework to Action: Devolution and its opportunities in addressing Gender Based Violence, was convened to discuss Gender Based Violence , emerging and existing issues on GBV from different counties, offer recommendations from best practices that have worked in other counties and offer legal advice on how to handle GBV issues.
UN Women Country Director Ms. Zebib Kavuma in her opening remarks highlighted that, ‘’Statistics have it that GBV prevalence in Kenya is high despite the mechanisms put in place to address such issues which have serious implications that go beyond the individual to the society. It is therefore imperative that government, both at national and county levels develop holistic interventions that are context specific and those that secure the well-being of their citizens by curtailing cases of GBV.’’
Ms. Kavuma reiterated that, ‘’There is URGENT need to focus on addressing negative cultural practices that disempower women, perpetuate gender inequalities while exposing women and girls to abuse and exploitation. However, at the same time it will be useful to build on the positive aspects of culture that enhance cohesiveness and protection of women and girl, mean and boys.’’
Executive Director Liverpool VCT Care and Treatment Health (LVCT) Dr. Lilian Otiso, in her remarks pointed out that moving forward, evaluation of existing models of prevention and scale up of best practices especially child sexual abuse. ‘’We should have implementation of developed laws, policies and frameworks, she highlighted.
Paul Kuria C.E.O National Gender and Equality Commission, highlighted that the commission is working with the Ministry of Education to review the secondary and primary schools curriculum which will ensure GBV issues are addressed in schools. Mr. Paul also challenged the participants to make use of the Housing Cooperation’s to address Gender Based Violence cases in their communities.
The conference which gave representatives from different organizations a chance to give their experiences in handling GBV, saw Dr. Mungai from the forensics Department cite poor management of crime scenes by survivors as one of the challenges they face when fighting Gender Based Violence. Ms. Jecinta Nyamosi from the Judiciary urged the media to take care of compromising evidence as they report on GBV cases.
The newly created State Department of Gender under the Ministry of Public Service, Gender and Youth was represented by Ms. Jane Keeru. Ms. Keeru took the participants through the National Gender Based Violence Policy highlighting limited male involvement as one of the challenges captured in the policy. The policy also highlights that Gender Based Violence is strongly linked to HIV/AIDS.
Chairman of the Beacon teacher Steven a representative of the county GBV networks, in his highlights on the experiences they have had with GBV issues pointed out that teachers are in a better place to fight GBV amongst children. ‘’Teachers are recognized as key partners in ending GBV,’’ he reiterated. A representative from Embu County pointed out that working with religious and cultural leaders has been key in ending GBV.
Some of the cross cutting issues that came up during the conference include; Radicalization and its implications for GBV and vice versa which can be solved through mainstreaming Gender Based Violence in anti-radicalization programme and Drugs, Culture and HIVAIDS and their implication for GBV prevention among others.
During the conference a presentation on Sustainable Development Goals ’s was done by UN Women Team leader Faith Kasiva, giving SDG’s unique features, airing the gender gaps that remain from the shift to SDG’s from MDG’s, giving the opportunities of GBV engagement within the SDG’s and highlighting the role of duty bearers and right holders.
An introduction to UN Women HeForShe Campaign was also done in the conference which resulted to 70 men signing up to be champions of the solidarity movement for gender equality.
ü On Legal and Policy frameworks on GBV the conference resolved to, Cascade the legal and policy framework existing at the national level to the county level, Disseminate, sensitize and build the capacity of GBV stakeholders on the legal and policy framework at the national and county level, Strengthen GBV coordination and ownership at the county level and create an effective monitoring and evaluation framework for GBV indicators, Advocate for the establishment of the National DNA data bank, activation of the Sexual Offenders Register and the establishment of special courts to adjudicate GBV cases, 5. Develop policy interventions capping the duration of investigation, prosecutions and adjudication of GBV cases and Advocate for the establishment of a fully equipped and well-resourced forensic laboratory.
ü On strengthening Research, ICT, Innovation and knowledge management to eradicate GBV, the conference decided to re-focus research on root causes of GBV, generation and dissemination of national and county specific GBV data and use data to inform decision making, and programming.
ü On domestic financing for sustainable GBV prevention and response the conference resolved to, Advocate for increased budgetary allocations by both public and private sector for prevention and response to GBV cases at both national and county Governments, Consistently engage the budgeting processes to prioritize gender issues including GBV and Engage men to actively participate in prevention and response to GBV.
ü On emerging issues the conference resolved to, undertake to be vigilant and respond to emerging trends and to implement programmes addressing GBV issues among specific populations including drug and substance abusers, boda boda riders, fishermen, radicalized youth, people living with Aids, and people living with disabilities, the elderly and infants.