Post by Katie Rosenthal

A civil society group in Kenya has launched an exciting new initiative to reduce violence against women. The campaign calls on men to team up with women to build a society based on equality, and enhance participation in nation building.

A 2009 survey established that 47% of women in Kenya who have ever been married have experienced domestic violence against them from male partners. This represents a worrying increase from a survey conducted six years prior, in which 37% of respondents reported suffering through domestic violence. The issue of violence against women is becoming an increasingly public one in Africa, as women become more willing to speak about the issue and humanitarian groups work across society to reduce it.

MenEngage Kenya Network, a group of non-governmental organisations, is behind the new initiative. The network has previously developed a national strategic plan to engage men and boys for gender equality, provided regular training workshops for men and boys on gender equality and HIV and AIDS, and established a functional National Steering Committee. The new campaign calls on men in Kenya, particularly those in positions of authority, to make increased efforts in challenging violence against women and championing non-violent conflict resolution. The campaign will function alongside and strengthen existing work to address more specific forms of violence against women present in Kenya, including female genital mutilation (FGM). The first phase of the campaign will work to empower communities by strengthening their knowledge of legal interventions, and capacity building. It will focus on parts of Western Kenya, where rates of violence against women are highest.

A spokesman for Kenya’s Gender Secretary, Protus Onyango, explained that “strengthening and implementing GBV laws and policies and the promotion of gender equality comes at an appropriate time when we are implementing the constitutional provisions on gender.” He also pointed out the importance of culture in promoting human rights and enhancing resource sharing.

For more information on the MenEngage network click here.

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