By Muthoni Waweru
Nairobi (Kenya) – Cases of sexual and other forms of gender-based violence are increasingly being reported in Kenya in both mainstream and social media.
Compared to men, women have borne the brunt of cultural ideas and practices that perpetuate sexual and gender-based violence.
According to the Kenya Demographic and Household Survey report 2014 (KDHS), 45 percent of women aged between 15-49 years have experienced physical violence, while 39 percent of married women have experienced physical or sexual violence compared to 44 percent and nine percent of men respectively.
Speaking on Wednesday at the national consultative forum on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment, Gender PS Zeinab Hussein said sexual and other forms of gender-based violence comprise not only of rape and attempted rape, but also sexual abuse, sexual exploitation, forced and early marriage, domestic violence, marital rape, trafficking and Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).
Hussein also noted that regardless of the efforts put in place to tackle FGM, the vice is still rife.
“The practice continues to kill the dreams of many girls. FGM affects up to 3 million girls a year – one every 10 seconds,” she said.
The KDHS 2014 report highlights that girls below the age of 14 are more likely to be circumcised if their mother had undergone the cut, while 28 per cent of women aged between 20-24 years were circumcised at the age of 5-9 years.
Issues to do with economic empowerment in addressing the challenges facing women were also highlighted in the consultative forum with Hussein emphasizing the need to empower women economically. She also called on the private sector to ensure that they enforce the 2/3 gender rule in their appointments especially at managerial levels.
Hussein adds that efforts to highlight challenges that affect women remain dispersed, uncoordinated and therefore lacking impact.
Present in the forum was Siddharth Chartterjee, UNFPA Representative who said the scourge of GBV in Kenya was unacceptable and further called on men to take a united step in addressing the issue.
“Women’s empowerment encompasses their sense of self worth, access to opportunities, access to and control of resources, choices and the ability to exercise them, control over their own lives and influence over the direction of social change.”
On women’s participation in policy and decision making, Chartterjee said that women have both a right and an obligation to active participation in all leadership positions including the political leadership.
“Kenyan women leaders have made some significant difference in shaping and advancing the gender agenda,” said Chartterjee.
“It’s important to note that women’s leadership not only aids in building nations but also helps to balance up decision making process such as issues of education, health gender violence, and democracy among others which are of great concern to women leaders.
Source: Capital news