Women's advancements: Unending hurdles

stella Ndugire- Mbugua
Posted March 20, 2009 from Kenya

As Human Rights Advocates, we must all recognise that gender-based violence is a public concern, not a private matter. That it is a matter of power and attitudes.

With this background, CREAW has a vibrant Legal advocacy program. Its beneficiaries of are from various walks of life, but mostly the poorest sections of the community. They come to us with cases ranging from rape, separation, divorce and maintenance, succession, physical abuse and denial of basic human rights, including those in the employment sector. We have so far filed over 16,000 cases which are at various levels, with most successful.

In response to the post election violence following the 2007 disputed general elections, CREAW has also documented the voices and experiences of internally displaced women and children from various camps and their surrounding communities in Nairobi, Eldoret and Kisumu towns. Most of these suffered various forms of violence but most evidently, Sexual Gender-based Violence (SGBV). Women told their accounts of sexual violations, watching friends and families butchered and property burned to the ground.

Our Peace and Justice program is engaging women as peace builders and increasing their participation and influence within mediation and justice processes. Currently, we are implementing the program in Naivasha, Nakuru, Molo and Subukia which were adversely affected by the post-election violence. Strategies used: - Actively involving community leaders to map out strategies of engagement with the communities to create lasting peace. - Continuous training of community peace builders will promote peace and reconciliation in these communities.

We have also recently published the voices of the survivors in a publication: Women Paid the price: Sexual and gender based violence in post election conflict in Kenya. (2008). The publication as well as a documentary of the survivor’s stories can be found on our website ( www.creawkenya.org). This powerful tool was shared at the Waki Commission of Inquiry into Post Election Violence (CIPEV) and we fully support the formation of a Local Tribunal that will to facilitate prosecution of the perpetrators of violence.

Affirmative Action We cannot be silent to the outcry that women’s advancement is undermined by their inability to meaningfully engage in decision-making processes which would enable them to enjoy and exercise their fundamental rights. Kenya lacks the legal infrastructure which would create a conducive environment for this.

I strongly believe that the key towards safeguarding the rights of women to meaningfully participate in decision-making processes lies with Constitutional review and amendment to incorporate principles such as Affirmative Action. To date, Women continue to meet hurdles along the way. We need to pool efforts to push forward the same especially because we are trailing behind our pioneers other regions of Africa and the world. Hail to the women in Uganda and Rwanda…They have fought the good fight and are leading the way.

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