NAIROBI, Kenya, September 21st – She has seen it all, lived and is now fighting it.
In 2006, when she had just entered Kenyatta University, death struck and took away one of her strongest pillars – her father.
But what followed was more emotionally exhausting. But she has found a way to march forward with determination.
Virginia Nduta firmly believes that it is possible to have a society in which women and girls enjoy their rights and are socially and economically strengthened.
Her mother was disinherited from her in-laws … they lost everything, but that didn̵
“We had to start from scratch,” she remembers the following events and even how she had to do simple jobs as a student to survive.
You see, her father was the family’s sole breadwinner, while the mother was a “housewife”.
“When my father died, she had no skills to get a formal job,” she said during an interview with Capital News.
And “for many reasons” they gave up everything and began a new journey.
It is the agony her mother went through 14 years ago that sparked in her a passion to speak out against the social vices that women and girls face.
Nduta is now the Executive Director of Women Empowerment Link (WEL), a non-governmental organization that not only works to empower women in the country, but also tries to end the violence against them.
And as the world celebrates International Day of Peace on Monday, it believes that “history” should be limited to the basic unit of Kenyan society – the family.
“How would the world speak of peace if nobody was home?” she posed. “It is very good to locate this agenda. The Kenyan needs to know that she has peace at home. ”
In order to achieve a nonviolent society against women and girls, the National Police Service (NPS) must play a central role.
With the help of the UK Conflict, Stability and Security Fund, your organization is working with the police to ensure that they offer “survival-oriented services”.
To date, more than 600 police officers, law enforcement officers and community officials have benefited from the training.
With the police first in the judiciary chain, the process should be friendly to victims of gender-based violence, but this has not been the case for a long time.
“We have given police officers the knowledge of how to respond to such cases. We come from the background of many survivors intimidated by the reporting process, “she said.” If you are intimidated by the process of going to the police to report a violation, it means that you have this will be an obstacle to your ultimate access to justice. ”
WEL worked with the police to develop the survivors’ friendly standard operating procedures, which ensure their efforts are institutionalized.
“With UK funding we have been able to train and create champions at the (police) station level, and even train at the higher level of police commanders to create a critical mass of police officers who are transforming,” She said.
The partnership, she said, “has been instrumental in ensuring that the SOPs that Women Empowerment Link has developed with the National Police Service and other partners not only collect dust on files and that this is not an end, but a livelihood the police can then commence and implement the daily provision of services. ”
-COVID-19 pandemic and the connection with gender-based violence-
And the need for such police services and awareness among women and girls is necessary, she said, especially now that the country and the world are battling the COVID-19 pandemic.
Cases of gender-based violence have increased during the pandemic that hit the country in March, a worrying trend that has even caught the attention of President Uhuru Kenyatta.
And if that weren’t checked, the situation could worsen as the country approaches its legislative term with the 2022 elections, Nduta said.
“When the country goes through some form of pandemic or election, you can see that the incidence of gender-based violence is really high. That requires organizations to ensure that there are interventions that are gender specific, ”she said.
On July 6, the president ordered an investigation into the rise in violence against women and girls, including rape, domestic violence, female genital mutilation, early teenage pregnancies and child marriage.
“We must always remember that the family is a projection of the state. When the family is attacked, the state is attacked. When the family is weak, the country is weak, ”said the president.
In Kenya, 45 percent of women aged 15 to 49 have experienced physical violence and 14 percent of women aged 15 to 49 have experienced sexual violence. This is based on statistics from the State Department for Gender.
Justice for victims of gender and sexual violence is also difficult to achieve in the country due to challenges in gathering evidence, long lead times to trial, and community vigilance towards perpetrators.
Her message to the Kenyan as the world celebrates International Day of Peace is “Speak Out”.
The General Assembly of the United Nations has declared September 21st to be the day to strengthen the ideal of peace by observing 24 hours of nonviolence and ceasefire.
International Day of Peace was launched in 1981 by the General Assembly of the United Nations.