• Welcome Our New Executive Director

    Author: covaw Category: Articles , No Comments

    Wairimu Munyinyi-Wahome is an advocacy and policy specialist, with over 16 years of international experience, including in Namibia, Somaliland, Sierra Leone and, more recently in Kenya. In these countries, Wairimu has served in various roles including Advocacy Advisor, Mainstreaming Coordinator with Concern Worldwide, Country Advocacy Manager with Oxfam where she also briefly served as an Acting Country Director. In Kenya, Wairimu has served with the Norwegian Refugee Council as the Regional Advocacy, Protection and Communications Advisor for Eastern and Horn of Africa and Yemen. She served with Oxfam in Kenya as the Programmes Director.

    Wairimu is passionate about gender and development issues and is keen to see that laws and policies in development accord women and girls their rightful place in the mainstream agenda and that their rights are secured and respected as they pursue their potential as equal citizens. Wairimu believes strongly that for African countries to move to the next frontier of development, they must firmly embed the rights of women and girls in their interventions, by ensuring that they are protected and safe to contribute to development processes in their personal and public spaces.

    Wairimu holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Social Sciences from the Catholic University of Eastern Africa, an Honors Degree in Development Studies from the University of South Africa and is currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Public Policy and Management from the Strathmore Business School. Wairimu is a proud alumnus of Loreto High School, Limuru.

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  • Violence against women and girls should not be business as usual

    Author: covaw Category: Articles , No Comments

    It is very heart-breaking to realize that violence against women and children is becoming a recurring trend in Kenya. Every day in the dailies and in the news there is that one report about violence meted out on a woman or a child.

    On Thursday, 14th June 2018, Doreen, a student of Nairobi Institute of Business studies was pushed out of a bus for asking the conductor to stop the bus after it had passed her stage. She fell hard and died from the impact. This is one story that was reported. What about the other cases that are kept silent? The victims are afraid that they will face stigmatization and isolation from the society. This is because there are past reports where the victims were told,

    “Are you sure it was rape?” “What were you doing to find yourself in that situation?” “You were the one asking for it.” “You antagonized him. You needed to be taught a lesson.” “These things happen.” “What were you doing walking at night?” “It was because of your dressing.” “Don’t report it otherwise you will be hurt or killed.” “If you report it, it will break up our family.” “Think about the consequences and the shame you will bring to our family.” “Men are like that.”

    This destroys the victims’ psyche and they feel as if it was their fault for the violence that they faced. It is also made worse for the fact that they may not know they have rights, or they may know their rights, but are not empowered to report or stand up for themselves.

    It is time for us as a society to break the silence. We are all responsible for breaking the cycle of violence. These are our wives, mothers, daughters, aunties, nieces, grandmothers, and friends. We need to protect them. It is up to us to report when we see cases of violence and support the victims. If we do not, someday it will affect us directly, and we will have regrets of our inaction.

    Be a champion today. Stop the violence. Break the silence.

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  • The Day of The African Child

    Author: covaw Category: Articles , No Comments

    On the 16th of June 2018, COVAW and the National Council for Children’s Services will commemorate the Day of the African Child in Menzamwenye, Lunga Lunga Sub-County, Kwale County.

    This year’s theme is ‘Leave No Child Behind for Africa’s Development’.

    We are going to talk on issues about FGM/C, SGBV, Child Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation.

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  • Ignored by State at Home, Feted by the World Abroad

    Author: covaw Category: Articles , No Comments

    By L. Muthoni Wanyeki

    Enough has been said about what the national honours given out on Jamhouri Day were meant to signify. The state has lost sight of the purpose that such honours are meant to serve.

    To remind us of the value of living up to and advancing the best part of ourselves. To record for the historical record those who’ve had the courage and integrity to do so. And, in so doing, to contribute to the on-going process of creating history.

    For it is no longer true that history is only written by the winners. History is also increasingly contested. With the ‘losers’ increasingly inserting themselves into the story. The complex, multifaceted and true story of the many actors and organisations that led to our independence, for example. The equally complex, multifaceted and true story of the many actors and organisations that brought us our second liberation—symbolised by the achievement, in the end, of our Constitution of 2010.

    Not to mention the pain of those whose stories were captured in the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission. Which, although still unrealised, was the product of the many Kenyans and Kenyan organisations who continue to believe our history must record what not only the colonial state, but also the post-colonial state, has done to us.

    However farcical and tragic our national honours have become, time will vindicate those Kenyans and Kenyan organisations. Time always does.

    Away from here, however, at least some of those Kenyans and Kenyan organisations have received the recognition they are due. That recognition is not for them alone—it is for all those in whose name they work. In this case, the many (many, many) survivors of sexual violence in times of conflict.

    On December 7, during this year’s annual Assembly of State Parties of the International Criminal Court, the global Gender Justice Legacy Wall was launched. The ‘bricks’ of this wall included no less than 151 individuals and organisations from around the world who have worked to find restitution for women (and men) who are so violated during times of conflict.

    From the women involved in negotiations of the Rome Statute, who sought to ensure that sexual violence would be understood as part of all three (now four) international crimes—crimes against humanity, genocide and war crimes (as well as, as of this ASP, the crime of aggression). Here we have ‘bricks’ for Kenyan advocates Betty Kaari Murungi, currently with the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Committee for South Sudan, and Binaifer Nowrojee, currently Asia Director with the Open Society Foundations. Hongera Betty, hongera Binaifer.

    To the women who have served as investigators, prosecutors, judges in the international criminal tribunals as well as the ICC. Here we have ‘bricks’ for Kenyans Lady Justice Joyce Aluoch, currently completing her term as a judge with the ICC as well as our former Chief Justice Willy Mutunga. Hongera Lady Justice, hongera our former CJ.

    To the women’s rights organisations who are the first to provide services to survivors of sexual violence during conflict—post-rape care and on-going counselling. Who collect their stories and advocate on their behalf. Here we find a ‘brick’ for the Kenyan Coalition on Violence against Women, which is still before the Kenyan courts seeking justice for survivors of sexual violence from 2007-8. Hongera COVAW.

    Most importantly, the wall honours the brave survivors who have testified before these tribunals and the ICC—the risks they have taken in doing so recognised by the fact that, on this wall, their ‘bricks’ are represented by their witness numbers only.

    These Kenyans are in the company, on this wall, of no less than three former United Nations High Commissioners for Human Rights—Canadian Louise Arbour, Irishwoman Mary Robinson and South African Navi Pillay—who also served as an ICC judge after serving on the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. They are in the company of current ICC Prosecutor, Gambian Fatou Bensouda. They are in the company of South African Yasmin Sooka, who served on the Truth and Reconciliation Commissions for both Sierra Leone and South Africa.

    They are in the company of Congolese physician Denis Mukwege, who opened up Panzi Hospital in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo to help treat survivors of the sexual violence there. And they are in the company of those brave Argentinian women who stood up to the Argentinian dictatorship between 1976 and 1983, demanding the return of all the ‘disappeared.’

    The company we keep tells us so much. The company in which these Kenyans find themselves reminds us of the purpose of honours—to live up to and advance the best part of ourselves, to place into the historical record those who’ve had the courage and integrity to do so and, in so doing, to create a history that speaks to the protection of the weakest amongst us. Hongera Betty, Binaifer, Lady Justice Aluoch, former CJ Mutunga and COVAW. Our state doesn’t recognise you. But the world does. And we do.

    L. Muthoni Wanyeki, PhD is Africa Director with the Open Society Foundations (OSF) network based in London. This column is written in her personal capacity and does not necessarily reflect the views of OSF.

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  • 2007/08 POST ELECTION VIOLENCE SEXUAL AND GENDER BASED VIOLENCE PUBLIC INTEREST LITIGATION CASE PROJECT

    Author: covaw Category: ACCESS TO JUSTICE AND WOMENS RIGHTS , No Comments

    The goal of this project is to secure redress for and provide psychosocial support and assistance to Sexual and Gender Based Violence victims and survivors of the 2007/08 Post Election Violence. The violence that was experienced in the aftermath of the 2007 general elections was indeed some of the worst violence experienced in post-independence Kenya. Kenya was riddled with carnage which, at the least, may only be described as horrific: 1,500 dead, over 3,000 innocent women raped, and an estimated 650,000 people left internally displaced.

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