As the world marked the International Women’s Day on March 8th the refugee community in Kenya’s Kalobeyei integrated settlement were not let behind. Coordinated under the sexual and gender-based violence working group, in Turkana County respectively drew representation from the refugees from Kakuma and Kalobeyei Camps, the host community and stakeholders and actors working in the camps.
Nationally, the number of registered refugees and asylum seekers hosted by Kenya was 471,724, with women and children constituting 78%. Kalobeyei camp host 188,513 refugees from 21 nationalities with 57.9% being from South Sudan following the renewed conflict that broke out in South Sudan in December 2013 (UNHCR).
The ongoing leadership, Empowerment and protection programme (LEAP), by UN Women through the Danish refugee Council (DRC) and Film Aid, seeks to ensure that humanitarian response is gender inclusive, provide economic opportunities for women in temporary shelters and promote sustainable solutions for women and girls to humanitarian crisis. This seeks to address the high vulnerability of women and girls from both Kalobeyei settlement and host communities especially in humanitarian setting and build cohesion.
Held under the theme “Think Equal, Build Smart, Innovate for Change” the celebrations highlighted some of the innovations by various groups including women, girls and persons with disability showcased in responding to several thematic issues within the community including climate change, food security, cohesion and peace building.
These groups included, Kisingolikanae Women group from host community making brickets as an initiative to minimize conflict due to fuel as well as income generating activity for the women; Mitindo group making customized t-shirts, value addition, beadwork and handicraft by the refugee women in Kalobeyei and Kakuma camp; Refika Jikos (An innovative cooking stove that is smokeless and uses less fuel by Refika a south Sudanese woman; poetry by Morneau Shepel and Angelina Jolie Girls high school on profiling women as elements of change; and the Kakuma Starlets a girls football team that demonstrate cohesion and peace building using sports.
“Women are increasingly becoming innovative and demonstrating leadership and resilience all we need is an enabling environment to break barrier that deter us from exploring our full potential.” Ms. Esther Ekwom- Tukana West Sub County Administrator.
The event brought together humanitarian agencies including United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Danish Refugee Council (DRC), Humanity and Inclusion, Kenya Red Cross Society (KRCS), Lutheran World Federation (LWF), Association for Aid and Relief (AAR) Japan, Windle Trust Kenya , Refugee Consortium of Kenya (RCK), Norwegian Refugee Council, Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS), Action Africa Help International, National Council of Churches of Kenya (NCCK) and FilmAid.
UN Women remains commitment to promoting and ensuring gender equality and the empowerment of women within the refugee settings and supporting UNHCR in promoting gender sensitive programming across all operation.