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Campaign to mobilize one million dads against gender-based violence kicks off in Kenya
Aeneas Chuma (left), UN Kenya Resident Coordinator, was the first to sign the pledge along with Sam Thenya (right), CEO of the Nairobi Women’s Hospital and founder of the Gender Violence Recovery Centre.
Photo credit: UN Women
On a bright Sunday afternoon in July, over a thousand people gathered in Nairobi’s Arboretum Park to launch a campaign that will see one million men join the fight against gender-based violence in Kenya.
Part of the UN Secretary-General’s Africa UNiTE Campaign, the 1 Million Fathers initiative will be engaging men in their roles as fathers, brothers, husbands and friends. The launch on 15 July 2012 saw more than 500 men line up to sign a pledge, and publicly commit to protect the women in their lives from violence, act as change-makers in their communities, and become positive male role models.
Mobilizing men is especially important in the lead-up to Kenya’s March 2013 General Elections. According to Wangechi Grace, Executive Director of the Gender Violence Recovery Centre (GVRC), which is leading the initiative, the centre supported 163 direct victims of gender-based violence following the previous election. “Women from all walks of life across Kenya were targeted in their own homes, simply because they were women,” she said. “Women were raped and assaulted on the basis of tribe. This time, men and women must come together to ensure the violence is not repeated.”
The campaign was officially launched by senior Kenyan Government officials, the UN Resident Coordinator for Kenya, Mr. Aenaes Chuma, and representatives from local civil society organizations. The initiative is also part of a broader joint programme on gender equality and women’s empowerment in the country, which brings together 14 UN Agencies with the Kenyan government. The joint programme works across sectors to advance gender equality by, for example for example, coordinating efforts to give women easier access to financial advice, business development services and credit. It is also supporting initiatives to involve women in the elections as candidates and voters, and tackle gender-based violence as the election draws closer.
“We are working to ensure this campaign reaches every part of Kenyan society ahead of the election period”, said Zebib Kavuma, UN Women’s Kenya Country Director, at the launch. “ One million fathers is just a starting point – our goal is to end gender-based violence in Kenya.”
Related Links: Check out the photo essay on Flickr