Category Archives: Peace & Security

Education Under Attack: #147NotJustaNumber #BringBackOurGirls

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By Felogene Anumo

“Getting a good education is my best bet out of poverty,” said a 16- year old in Narok county in Kenya. Yet, on that fateful morning of 2nd April 2005 at Garissa University in Kenya, the dreams of 147 lives and their families were shattered into pieces. As I followed the events unfolding that morning and subsequent media coverage, I was overcome by a deep sadness and anger by the loss of young lives. Lives of young people and families who were filled with hope and promise that education brings.

Education Under Attack

We live in a world characterized by uncertainty, complexity and rapid change. For many young people, and more often in developing countries, education is the base and its importance for self and society cannot be overstated. For me, the decision of attackers to target institutions of learning where tolerance, co-existence and unity is fostered is both frightening and enraging. The Kenyan attack comes at a time when just a few months back, 20 teachers were killed in Mandera on their way to Nairobi for the Christmas break.

Bring Back Our Girls - One year and Counting. Photo Courtesy of FEMNET
Bring Back Our Girls – One year and Counting. Photo Courtesy of FEMNET

Regionally, we have witnessed similar attacks by extremists. Tomorrow, 14 April 2015, marks one year since the schoolgirls from Chibok in Nigeria were abducted by militant group, Boko Haram.  Despite a global campaign to #BringBackOurGirls, more than 300 young women are still under the hands of their abductors since their abduction from their school dormitories. A Global Week of Solidarity Action is currently underway to amplify calls for their immediate release and rescue, as well as to reiterate that we have not forgotten our girls. Globally, the world is still recovering from the massacre in Peshawar School in December 2014 that shook the entire world.

When education institutions are targeted or attacked, the damage and its consequences can be major and far-reaching. Notably, the current waves of attacks have had negative ramifications on the education sectors. For example, in Northern Kenya, many teachers have fled and have abandoned their jobs because of the increasing insecurity threat despite numerous reassurances from the Government on their safety. Nigeria on the other hand has the highest number of out of school children. Amnesty International publication “keep away from schools or we’ll kill you” reports that the insecurity generated by the constant attacks and fighting in Borno and other states in the north-eastern Nigeria led many parents to send their children away or leave the state, disrupting their education. Up to, 15,000 children in Borno State have stopped attending classes. The psycho-social effect of the attacks ensures that impact is felt by many people beyond the actual victims causing high levels of fear and stress. Ultimately, the longer-term impact of targeted and persistent attacks on education undermine social and economic development as they contribute to educational fragility and state inequalities.

In developing counties, families overcome various challenges to ensure that their loved ones get higher education. According to a UNESCO report, more than half of the world’s out-of-school children live in sub-Saharan Africa. More than one in five (22%) primary school-age children in the region have either never attended school or left before completing primary school. This is majorly due to perceptions of low quality education with poor outcomes for families, direct costs related to schooling and indirect loss in terms of losing a source of labour, especially for young women and girls.  Isn’t it enough that families of the Garissa victims overcame these various challenges to be in the University? What more can compound the already existing challenges to get an education than the risk of abduction, sexual violence and loss of life?

We Shall Overcome

The triumph against terrorism will require collective responsibility. Global leaders are currently concretizing what promises to be the benchmark of the development agenda in the form of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The Right to Quality Education must remain a high priority in the proposed goals, targets and indicators, and must address all obstacles in the quest of good education. Above all, leaders must recognize that peace is a necessity for education.Together, we must strive to keep at bay these forces that endanger our dreams and aspiration of having a strong, educated and sustainable world with limitless opportunities for young people.

To the families of the victims and survivors of the terrible ordeal, you remain in our payers and our hearts.  In this trying time, let us cling on to the words of Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Malala Yousafzai, a young feminist and socialist activist who was shot by the Taliban on her way home from school” So let us wage a glorious struggle against illiteracy, poverty and terrorism, let us pick up our books and our pens, they are the most powerful weapons. One child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world. Education is the only solution.”

Join me in sending condolences to the families of the victims and survivors of the Garissa attack. #147notjustanumber

Credit REUTERS Goran Tomasevic
Photo credit: REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic
Felogene Anumo is a young feminist and a member of FEMNET. Connect with her @Felogene or fganumo@gmail.com
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One Year On – We Have Not Forgotten – #BringBackOurGirls

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We are unfortunately fast approaching the one year anniversary since hundreds of girls were abducted from their school in Chibok, Nigeria.

A Global Week of Solidarity Action is currently underway to amplify calls for their immediate release and rescue, as well as to reiterate that we have not forgotten our girls.
In light of this, all citizens of conscience are invited to join in the solidarity week of action from April 8th – 14th April  to speak out and take action against increasing fundamentalisms and oppressive systems of patriarchy and domination which perpetuate injustice.
You will recall that our call for a solidarity day of action on May 15 which marked one month resulted in incredible mobilization from over 20 countries across Africa as well as globally – with the holding of vigils, fasts, prayers, marches, protests, sit ins, media engagements and more! Here in Nairobi, hundreds from all walks of life took to the streets to express their love, hurt, anger and solidarity.
There will be a Global School Girls March on April 14th. If you are planning any activities in your respective cities/towns/countries – please fill out this form:
 

Here are some social media messages that you can feel free to use and share widely, along with a mapping of relevant policy makers for the targeting of those messages. Some images can also be accessed here – please feel free to use and share widely. 

Please also let us know if you’re interested in writing op-eds, articles or blog posts in relation to the girls.

For any questions, please contact communication@femnet.or.ke

Justice delayed is Justice denied #Njeri’sJustice

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Njeri Poster Final 2

In Kenya, this year’s, V-Day’s International Women’s celebration was marked by the hosting of Vagina Monologues show at Alliance Francaise in memory of Njeri, a 19 year old girl whose justice is yet to be served. Njeri was raped, murdered and found dead stark naked on June 2013 in Kikuyu. According to the post-mortem, she was raped, stabbed 12 times including the neck, back, thighs and legs. The accused was released on bail.

Justice delayed is Justice denied: This court case has been adjourned several times for the past 2 years. With the recent reports of rape and assault incidences in corridors of power, it is our hope that the law will take the course and justice will prevail. The sense of confidence in the courts is essential to maintain the very fabric of the society and the delay of the justice system to serve justice destroys that confidence and may even drain a just judgment of its value. In the larger sense, the public may come to believe that the justice system cannot fulfill its primary function to protect its society.

Despite the adjournments, we have not forgotten Njeri and we are calling members of the public to attend the court hearing dates as a show of confidence that the wheel of justice will roll faster and justice will be served. The Court hearing dates are scheduled for 30th March 2015 and 2nd April 2015 at Milimani Courts at 9am.

Other courts case that we are following up on: Kayole stripping case Ruling will be delivered on April 1 at Makadara Court.

Facebook Event Page:

https://www.facebook.com/events/433970743433970/

Colour of solidarity: purple or black. We will be handing out purple ribbons before the hearing.

#ABetterWorld

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By: Yemurai Nyoni

When it comes to gender equality and the question of why I keep talking about it, I have this to say. Gender (in) equality is a real issue, whose legitimacy is still undermined by the status quo: the existing arrangement of our economies, societies and politics. As a young man, a youth voice and a part of your social media family; I have to keep talking about gender equality in order to send the message home.

I aim to make sure that by the time we’re done talking about gender equality, that’s all our leaders will have left to say. Up to such a point that any leader who doesn’t say it, see it or work towards it as we do, will stick out like a sore thumb.

We need to keep conditioning the world to see what we see in order to bring our future closer. There is a greater hope for humanity, a suppressed potential, which we will see if and when women have their stake of the development pie.

So I will continue to speak about gender equality, until this conversation stops being unusual. But even then I will continue, because it is not enough to speak about it or believe in it; we must take the necessary steps to prove its authenticity. That way, when we have seen the transformative power of women’s leadership, when we witness their constructive influence on the economy, society and politics; there will be no turning back, ever.

To my female friends and colleagues, we are not at gender equality 101 yet. Somehow it seems the world can still afford to leave you out, beat you up and keep you down. So they need to hear more, they need to believe and we can help them. Hence I speak with the 50+% because there is a case to prove and women need a full platform to prove it.

Lastly, for those who ask for evidence of the benefits of gender equality, there is plenty in tow; but the best of it is yet to come. #HeForShe #MorePower #MoreSpace #NoViolence #GenderEquality #NoRegrets #MakeItHap

Infographic courtesy of Women Deliver http://www.womendeliver.org/knowledge-center/publications/invest-in-girls-and-women-everybody-wins-2014/

Change MustBe Accelerated to End Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in One Generation

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Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) involves the partial or total removal of the female genitalia. It is an extreme and violent form of discrimination and violates the rights of women and girls to equality, bodily integrity and dignity.
As we mark the International Day of Zero Tolerance to FGM, we are at a critical window of opportunity – a ‘tipping point’ where momentum is growing and change can be accelerated. FGM is now prohibited to varying degrees in 20 out of 29 of the countries in Africa and the Middle East where it is most prevalent, although full implementation of the law continues to be a challenge.

Over the last 12 months, the campaign against FGM has received renewed support from different actors committed to ending the practice. According to UNICEF, Kenya has led the way with falls in prevalence from middle-aged women to adolescent girls from 49% to 15%, albeit with an increase in the percentage of FGM performed by health personnel.
2014also saw a significant increase in theprosecution of FGM cases globally and verdicts in a few countries.In Kenya,efforts are in full gear to enforce the Children’s Act as well as the Prohibition of FGM Act. The creation of anFGM and Early Marriage Prosecutorial Unit inthe Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions and the establishment of the Anti-FGM Board has resulted in an increase in the number of cases being reported to the police.
Meanwhile, Tarime in Tanzania witnessedthe first FGM prosecution in a community that has been reluctant to change. The UK has also had its first ever case of FGM since the passage of its anti-FGM law in 1985. In Egypt in 2014, the Attorney General filed that country’s first case of FGM since a law was passed banning FGM in 2008. 13-year-old Soheir al-Batea died after a doctor performed FGM on her at the behest of her father. On January 26, the doctor was sentenced to two years in jail for manslaughter and three months for performing FGM. Soheir’s father received a three month suspended sentence. The doctor’s clinic was also closed for one year. This first ever FGM trial in Egypt is hugely important in a country which has the highest number of affected women and girls in the world. In a country where more than 75% of FGM cases are performed by medical practitioners, it is also extremely significant that a medical professional was sentenced.
The narrative on FGM found new platforms too. Key players in sparking media interest were two campaigns – The Girl Generation: Together to End FGM and The Guardian’s Global Media Campaign to End FGM. The Guardian’s campaign recognizes the critical role of the media in ending FGM and seeks to provide incentives to keep the issue on top of the media agenda. An international reporting award, named after the late Efua Dorkenoo,will be granted annually to an African reporterwho has demonstrated innovation and commitment in covering FGM.

However, many challenges remain too in addressing FGM around the world. Many countries with high rates of FGM still do not have laws banning FGM.Without laws, women and girls have no way to seek redress and states send the message that they condone the practice. Those that have laws in place are yet to fully enforce them.
In Kenya, Equality Now has been monitoring three cases of girls who died following complications related to the practice in Kajiado, Oloitoktok and Pokot. Two of the girls were pregnant and forced to undergo FGM to hasten their passage into womanhood after delivery. The possibility that there could have been more cases that were not reported cannot be ruled out either.

The theme of this Year’s Zero Tolerance Day – the involvement and mobilization of health personnel to end FGM could not be more apt. It is urgently required. The fact that health personnel sometimes fail in their duty of care and perform FGM,undermines decades of hard work and is a violation of medical ethical obligations to protect health and “do no harm.”
Resistance to FGM laws has also hampered efforts to eliminate this human rights violation.For example, in June 2014, a section of Maasai women in Kenya took to the streets demanding that the government permit them to practice their supposed ‘tradition’. In December 2014, in Kuria and Narok Counties, local chiefs and activists who had set out to save girls from undergoing the practice were attacked. In Tanzania, girls who had escaped FGM and sought refuge in a rescue centre were forced to undergo the practice when they returned to their families.
If we are to truly end FGM in one generation, a joined-up comprehensive approach works best. This includes prevention, protection, provision of services, partnerships and prosecutions where required. States must live up to their international obligations and protect women and girls, as well as provide support services for girls at risk or women who have undergone FGM.

Members of the medical profession should take a leading role in eliminating the practice by refusing to perform FGM, educating communities about the harmful consequences of FGM and providing care where needed.


Mary Wandia

FGM Program Manager

Equality Now
mwandia@equalitynow.org: Cell: +254 733 860036

2015 INTERNATIONAL DAY OF ZERO TOLERANCE FOR FGM

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THEME: “Mobilization and Involvement of Health Personnel to Accelerate Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting”.

On 6th February we stand in solidarity together with the people around the world who are observing this annual International Zero Tolerance Day to eradicate Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting. This day fosters awareness of the harmful effects of female genital mutilation/cutting and renews the call for communities to abandon this inhumane practice.

FGM/C refers to a procedure involving partial or total removal of the external female genitalia. It is a practice that occurs across cultures and religions, although in fact no religion mandates the procedure. The practice is often performed and often using such instruments as broken glass, tin lids, scissors, unsterilized razors or surgical blades. According to World Health Organization, as many as 100 to 140 million girls and women worldwide currently live with the consequences of this dangerous practice.

Everyone must act jointly to abandon the practice, so that girls and their families who opt out do not become social outcasts. Communities working together to abandon FGM/C can ensure stronger, healthier futures for girls, young women, and their families. We all have an obligation to work together for the equality, well-being, and prosperity.

How to engage tomorrow: Use the hashtags #EndFGM #Zerotoleranceday #TogetherforZero add your voice to call for the abandonment of this harmful traditional practice.

Amina Mama on Militarism

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“Development is about people, not guns. No amount of military power can bring about security in the absence of food, water, healthcare, affordable energy, decent work and a decent environment – all those things that have been enshrined in over half a century of lofty declarations, but which remain elusive in the former colonies. Needless to say surveys confirm that women do define security differently from men – not in terms of all-male armies and arsenals of weapons, or even in terms of national border policing– but in terms of security from poverty, and epidemics of disease,  in terms of freedom from violence and the fear of violence. Women –whose bodies are so often abused by men to spite other men – define security in terms of bodily integrity, that is freedom from violence, abuse and exploitation. For us rape is not just a ‘”weapon of war” but an endemic feature of our unjust and patriarchal societies, where misogyny lives in peacetime as well as in war-time.

Many of us have direct or indirect experiences of war, conflict and military rule. The appalling consequences this has for our societies and for future generations has compelled many women to work for de-militarization and peace. This was evident in the work of the women’s movements in Liberia and Sierra Leone, where women played key roles in ending disastrous conflicts during which men specifically targeted women’s and children’s bodies for rape, mutilation and other violations designed to terrorize ordinary people. Women’s movements continue to work against the long-term social and economic consequences of war and other violent attacks on communities, in ways that deserve far more support than they are currently getting.”

Excerpts from an interview of Amina Mama by Hakima Abbas  on the Feminist Wire – read the full interview here.