Call to tackle violence against women in urban areas

Wednesday, December 6th, 2023 07:00 | By
An image used to illustrate violence. PHOTO/Pexels

This year, the annual campaign dubbed 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence holds special significance to our country as it aligns with the 75th anniversary of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights, a milestone that prompts reflection on the strides made and challenges that still persist.

The 16 Days of Activism, initiated on November 25 and set to conclude on December 10, during the commemoration of International Human Rights Day, is a period of heightened awareness, advocacy and collective action against this pervasive subject.

For many in the country, the set days of activism against GBV simultaneously confronts the harsh reality of a rallying cry for justice, equality and the eradication of violence against all genders. On the sideline, Kenya will equally be celebrating 60 years of independence this year.

Indeed it as a poignant reminder of the passing of time, yet the country is still grappling with the harsh reality of gender-based violence.

Amidst the ongoing campaign, let it not be lost that GBV remains a persistent issue, with its impact felt acutely especially in the urban informal settlements where vulnerable populations continue to face numerous challenges.

The clarion call to action is to the authorities, duty bearers, State and non-State actors to shed light on the harsh realities faced by many women and girls in these marginalised communities and elsewhere.
This includes measures to streamline the legal process, provide support services and hold perpetrators accountable for their actions.

In the informal settlements, factors such as poverty, overcrowded living conditions and limited access to education contribute to an environment where gender-based violence thrives.

We must all in one accord stand up for victims’ rights and be very deliberate and move away from cosmetic and lofty ideals in the fight against GBV. Time is now in advocating for targeted and actionable changes in policies in order to ensure sustainable justice and reparation for survivors.

As Kenya stands on the precipice of the 16 Days of Activism, there is a resounding call to action. The strides made are significant, but the journey towards a society free from gender-based violence is far from over. One of the most significant developments during this year’s 16 Days of Activism is the heightened involvement of male allies.

Recognising that gender-based violence is not just a “women’s issue,” men around the world are joining the cause, emphasising that true equality requires the collective effort of all genders. This shift in narrative is breaking down stereotypes and challenging societal norms that have perpetuated violence for centuries.

In the spirit of the 75th anniversary of the UN Declaration on Human Rights, the country’s leadership must reaffirm its commitment to the principles of equality, justice, and dignity. As the 16 Days of Activism unfold, let the collective voice of Kenya be a testament to the unwavering resolve to protect and promote human rights, echoing the spirit of the declaration that envisioned a world where every person is born free and equal in dignity and rights.

As we approach to mark the country’s independence day on December 12, the leadership is urged to reflect not only on the achievements of the past 60 years of independence but also on the work that lies ahead especially on gender based violence.

The government and its systems and indeed all of us alike must redouble efforts to ensure the principles of equality, justice and dignity are not mere words on paper but tangible realities for every person, regardless of gender.

— Director of Communication and Public Affairs at Kenya National Commission on Human Rights

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