NAIROBI, Kenya Jun 3 – Voice for Women and Girls’ Rights-Kenya (VWGR) has welcomed the government’s plan in working towards eliminating Gender-Based Violence (GBV) in workplaces by 2026.
This follows an announcement last week by President Uhuru Kenyatta giving a committing to ratify and implement the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention 190 on eliminating Gender-Based Violence (GBV), and harassment in the workplace by 2026.
Cases of Gender-Based Violence and harrassment are rampant in Kenya but are rarely documented, including when they occur in work places.
In most cases, women are worst affected particularly due to lack of policies in workplaces, including in government institutions.
“When countries respect women rights, promote gender equality, and put women and girls at the centre of their development agenda, their societies and economies thrive, and those benefits extend far into future generations,” President Kenyatta said, acknowledging that “Indeed, women are the pillar upon which society leans. Women are drivers of family health and welfare; they inculcate values and nurture the young, and they exert a powerful influence on intergenerational outcomes for their children.”
Sammy Muraya, the Programs Director at VWGR-Kenya, a project of the Journalists for Human Rights (JHR), said the government’s move to take GBV issues more seriously means a lot for the country, but called for implementation of policies.
He said Kenya has a lot of policies that are never taken seriously due to lack of implementation.
“We welcome this announcement by the president to end Gender-Based Violence in work places by 2026 because it is definitely a step towards the right direction,” he said,” if it is implemented the better”.
“We always have these very colourful policies but then there is a very huge disconnect between what the president says and what the implementing authorities actually do,” he said.
Muraya is particularly concerned that most organisations do not have sexual harassment or discrimination policies within their systems.
“Without these policies, implementation becomes a problem so this is where it should start from,” he said.
He also cited the two-thirds Gender rule which is yet to be enacted by Parliament, with the former Chief Justice David Maraga having advised President Kenyatta to disband Parliament for failing to perform its role.
“So before we talk about having gender-based violence and harassment policies in the workplaces, why don’t we first enact the two-thirds gender rule,” he said.
The president is yet to heed to the advice from the former Chief Justice to disband Parliament almost a year later with his advisors saying he is not obligated to follow advise.
Data by the National Gender and Equality Commission shows a high prevalence of Sexual Gender-Based Violence with variations cutting across various forms and geographic locations.
“Women and girls are disproportionately affected by SGBV; however, men and boys also experience SGBV,” the commission states, “There is growing evidence that orphans and vulnerable children, Persons with Disabilities, the elderly and persons in humanitarian crisis situations are most vulnerable to SGBV.”
New statistics released by the Gender Ministry in April shows a 36 per cent spike in GBV cases in 2020 when 5,009 cases were recorded in what is blamed on the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns that started in March.
Ministry of Public Service, Youth and Gender Affairs Cabinet Secretary Margaret Kobia said the cases were recorded between January and December, and represented an increase of 1,411 compared to cases reported in 2019. Nairobi, Kakamega, Kisumu, Nakuru and Kiambu counties accounted for most of the cases.
“The findings of the study established that the number of Gender-Based Violence cases reported between January and June 2020 had an increase of 92 percent compared to previous year same period,” Kobia said.
The most common forms of Gender-Based Violence identified were physical assault, rape and attempted rape, murder, defilement, grievous harm, child neglect and psychological torture.
As a result of the alarming cases, President Kenyatta directed the National Crime Research Centre to carry out a study to establish the causes of the incidents.
The study highlighted alcohol, drug and substance abuse, poverty, family disputes and moral decadence among triggers of GBV.