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ICPD25 delegates mobilize commitments to end harmful cultural practices impeding reproductive health rights

Cabinet Secretary for the Public Service, Youth and Gender Affairs Margaret Kobia who attended a forum dubbed “Ending Harmful Practices –Making Commitments Real” noted the commitments made by the government in ending the harmful practices within a generation/Kenya Institute for Public Policy Research and Analysis

NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 14 – Delegates in the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD25) which kicked off on Tuesday in Nairobi Wednesday called for the formulation of policies to address harmful practices affecting girls and women.

The delegates made the appeal during the “Ending Harmful Practices –Making Commitments Real” forum held on the sidelines of the global conference.

“As much as the prevalence has gone down we recognize that these harmful practices still violate the rights and dignity of women and girls not only in Kenya but all over the world, with a negative impact from their physical, mental and reproductive health as well as their overall being,” Cabinet Secretary for the Public Service, Youth and Gender Affairs Margaret Kobia who attended the forum noted.

Gender Based Violence (GBV), Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and child marriages remain harmful practices that violate the rights of women and girls globally.

Around the world, girls and women battle commonly held views and beliefs that limit their opportunities and potential.

Myths such as investing in women doesn’t pay off, gender inequality is not an issue in developed countries, sexual reproductive health and rights, family-friendly, gender-responsive policies are not worth the investment – just to name a few, are robbing women of their power to advance themselves, their families, their communities, and ultimately, their nations.

In Kenya, 23pc of girls are married before their 18th birthday. Almost a half that is 45pc of women aged between 15-49 have experienced physical violence since age 15.

14pc of the women aged between 15-49 have experienced sexual violence making the economic burden of GBV survivors very high.

Kobia noted the commitments made by the government in ending the harmful practices within a generation, putting in place policies, legal frameworks and institutions over the years strengthening the capacity of these institutions and allocated budgets to support prevention and response to GBV and harmful cultural practices.

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“We continue to build strategic partnerships with Civil Society Organizations (CSO) and research and academia institutions and the private sector to ensure we achieve Zero GBV and the harmful practices by the year 2020 as provided in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).”

Last week President Uhuru Kenyatta signed a landmark declaration incorporating the governments Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Somalia and Ethiopia in a new plan to address cross border FGM practice.

Kenyatta undertook to work with his counterparts in the region to ensure those who perpetuate harmful cultural practices are brought to book regardless of whether the practices are committed outside the country.

Kenya also launched a Johari Beads initiative which, according to CS Kobia, will not only contribute to the ending of FGM but also economically empower the girls through the bead work which they will sell to generate income.

“When women are economically empowered, their voice of saying “NO” is stronger.  This is one of the strategies guided by the national policy on eradication of FGM which was developed in 2019,” Kobia explained.

The commitments made by the Cabinet Secretary at the ICPD25 summit in ending the harmful practices against women and girls include; establishing a taskforce that will be multi-sectoral in nature incorporating relevant government agencies as well as relevant members of the CSO’s private sectors and development partners to lead in the implementations of these commitments.

To develop and operationalize structures within the national policy on eradication of FGM from the national to the grassroots to ensure accountability on eradication through regular reporting and immediate action with the support of assistant chiefs.

Provide necessary leadership including working with county governors and the private sector to ensure the adequate resourcing of the relevant institutions and programs to accelerate the campaign to end harmful practices in Kenya.

Put in a framework to end the medicalization of FGM by healthcare professionals and engage other governments to ensure Kenya stays on course the fight against these harmful cultural practices especially along the borders.

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“There is now a growing body of evidence showing the links between child marriage and a range of development priorities, from economic development and poverty alleviation to health, human rights, and social justice. There is no doubt that effective strategies to address child marriage require dedicated efforts as well as cross-sectoral cooperation and integration,” said the CEO, Girls Not Brides Faith Mwangi – Powell, a global partnership of more than 1300 civil society organizations committed to ending child marriage and enabling girls to fulfill their potential.

-Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)-

Female Genital Mutilation is the partial or complete removal of external female genitalia for non-medical reasons. It is mostly carried out – without anesthetic – on girls between infancy and age 15.

It has zero health benefits and often results in lifelong health problems, increased risks during childbirth, psychological trauma, and even death.

-Child Marriage-

“Child marriage” is a global problem, affecting 15 million girls each year. It legitimizes abuse, violates girls’ human rights and denies them their autonomy, all under the guise of culture, tradition and religion. (Equality Now)

-Gender Based Violence (GBV)-

Gender-based violence is a phenomenon deeply rooted in gender inequality and continues to be one of the most notable human rights violations within all societies.

Gender-based violence is violence directed against a person because of their gender.

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Both women and men experience gender-based violence but most victims are women and girls.

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