The beginning of 2023 saw us venturing into three diverse counties: Kisumu, Isiolo, and, of course, Kilifi.
According to government data, these regions ranked high in human rights violations, drawing our attention to the pressing need for intervention. the three locations painted a complex picture of violations ranging from elderly women accused of witchcraft facing violence to issues like gender-based violence (GBV), female genital mutilation (FGM), land rights disputes, defilement, discrimination, and a lack of access to justice.
In Kisumu, a city grappling with a concerning prevalence of Gender-Based Violence (GBV), positive strides are being taken to address this issue head-on. The County Government of Kisumu has spearheaded the development and launch of a comprehensive policy framework aimed at eradicating Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) at the local level.
This innovative policy is meticulously crafted to tackle SGBV incidences within the county and champion gender equality. It establishes robust systems designed to protect, prevent, and respond to these violations effectively whenever they occur. By doing so, the policy aligns with the broader mission of fostering a community where individuals can thrive free from the fear of gender-based violence.
In this coastal haven however, we found that atrocities were deeply rooted, culturally normalised, and lacked proper redress mechanisms. The level of poverty was alarmingly high, and education levels were low. Kilifi emerged as a the most urgent location for our project to make a meaningful impact. But here is the silver lining: amidst the challenges, we encountered incredible women human rights defenders (WHRDs) in Kilifi. These fearless individuals not only understand the issues plaguing their community but actively work towards improving the environment for all. Our hearts resonate with theirs, and we believe they stand to gain immensely from our capacity training, psychosocial support, and the expansion of their networks.
Excitingly, we are starting to work with15 new toolkit organisers; 10 from Kilifi, and five from Nairobi each focusing on a specific human rights issue and aiming at creating a future where human rights are not just protected but celebrated.
These meetings with WHRDs in Kisumu, Isiolo and Kilifi were part of a project supported by the Basque Agency for Development Cooperation of the Basque Government