What you need to know:
- Inclusion of women in peace and security processes is a commitment Kenya has made being a signatory of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325.
- The Resolution calls on countries to be deliberate in involving women in peace and security processes namely negotiations and reconciliations.
- Structural inequalities, devolution and cultural and religious factors are emerging issues government ministries, departments and agencies will be committed to address under the action plan.
Ms Winny Chebochok is one of the three women in the 12-member Kuresoi South Sub-county Peace Committee.
In the aftermath of the post-2007/08 election, her committee ran spirited peace activities across the sub-county to clear the animosity and unite the people.
“Liza Chelule, I and my other colleague were on the frontline with messages of peace and reconciliation. I am so happy that we touched people’s hearts and we are now living in peace,” she says.
Her wish though is that more women are included in the peace committees as they are likely to be more influential due to their innate abilities such as empathy and persuasion.
“Women have empathy and can easily woo people. That is what is needed in peace and reconciliation processes,” she says.
For Ms Flavia Ekamais who has been sitting in Isiolo County Peace Committee since 2017, her concern is women’s proposals being overlooked due to their low representation.
They are only three women out of the nine members in the committee.
“Having more women in the committee would mean reinforcing a fellow woman’s idea and it would be given due consideration. There are times, you propose something and it’s just ignored,” she says.
In Kuresoi North Sub-county where occasional community land disputes erupt and stock theft is random, there are no active peace committees.
Peace and security
Deputy County Commissioner Felix Watakila who was deployed into the area in March 2018, however, says he would revive the peace committees while ensuring a minimum 30 per cent representation of women.
“Women suffer the most when there are conflicts. You cannot exclude them in peace and security issues or even ignore their recommendations. They should not just be in committees. They should be actively involved or participate in all activities aimed at maintaining peace and security in the society,” he says.
Inclusion of women in peace and security processes is a commitment Kenya has made being a signatory of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325.
The Sessional Paper No. 5 of 2014 on National Peacebuilding and Conflict Management provides for a 30 per cent gender rule in composition of the County Peace Committees.
As indicated in the 2nd Kenya National Action Plan (2020-2024) launched last month, in 2019 women constituted 29 per cent of 4,505 committee members. This is equivalent to 1,300 women against 3,205 men, which equals a 71 per cent representation.
On May 27, Ministries of Public Service and Gender and Interior and National Coordination launched the action plan, which they jointly developed. The action plan seeks to advance the lapsed 2016-2018 action plan’s successes in implementing the resolution.
The 1325 Resolution calls on countries to be deliberate in involving women in peace and security processes namely negotiations and reconciliations.
The new action plan enshrines government’s commitment to inclusion of women in strategising measures to address gender-based violence (GBV), climate change, human trafficking and forced migration and humanitarian disasters such as droughts, fires, floods, terrorism, and diseases.
“The distances women and girls walk to get basic needs to sustain their families puts them at risk of sexual violence, and then increases their vulnerability to conflict when there are cycles of revenge attacks,” reads section on climate change.
Structural inequalities, devolution and cultural and religious factors are identified as emerging issues that the government ministries, departments and agencies will also be committed to address under the action plan.
“Structural inequalities continue to weaken women’s capacity to strengthen their economic base, leading to high levels of poverty among women that consequently limit their capacity to participate effectively in decision making at community, county, and national levels,” reads section on the action plan.
Devolution has introduced new set of challenges that require participation of women in addressing them, observe the developers of the action plan.
“Threats to peace and security include… border disputes and conflicts over sharing of resources; a re-emergence of militia groups and gangs that rape and violate women, in addition to committing other forms of crime; drug and substance abuse; and violent extremism,” they state.
During the launch, Cabinet Secretary for Defence Dr Monica Juma was categorical that women’s participation in security and peace building in the fast changing scene of global threats cannot be underestimated.
She noted of growing portfolio of what she termed as soft lethal threats, which she disputed would be tackled “with defence capabilities as we know them.”
She identified the soft lethal threats as “radicalisation that happen with children in our homes and schools and safe spaces, cyber security, human trafficking and violence in context of fragility, for instance Covid-19.”
Women, she said, are pivotal in ending these threats if well equipped, she said.
The training of women to counter the emerging threats, however, has to be done cautiously to avoid advancing patriarchal orders in the defence system, she warned.
“We need to change the nature of capability required to secure our society. There is need to cautiously increase the pool of women in peace and defence security sector,” she stated.
On her part, Gender CS Prof Margaret Kobia said her ministry will continue to evaluate the progress made in implementing the UN resolution, further drawing lessons for better improvement of women’s participation in said agenda.
She made an anecdotal reference to the significance of women’s inclusion in peace and security process.
“It is not men versus women. It is more of complementarity. The world is made of two portions…everything is in pairs. That is why we have two eyes and legs. The same with us having men and women (in peace and security processes).
In the action plan, the Ministry of Defence highlight the 2018’s promotion of Ms Fatumah Ahmed as Kenya’s first female Major as an attribute to gender mainstreaming through its first Gender Policy.
It also prides itself in having Kenya lead the world, in 2016, in female participation in their UN peacekeeping operations.
It reports that more than 19 per cent of Kenyan peacekeeping troops deployed in the field are women including military experts.
In the Judiciary, as indicated in the action plan, of 2018, women constitute 28 per cent of the Supreme Court judges, 32 per cent of judges in the Courts of Appeal, and 42 per cent of judges in the High Court.
Ms Emily Opati is the focal point in implementation of the 1325 resolution and Deputy Director in State Department of Gender.
In a phone interview with her recently, Ms Opati said inadequate resources constrained exhaustive implementation of the 1st action plan.
She however, said they continue to partner with UN Women and other civil societies to supplement their activities and realise their goals as provided in the new action plan.
She said offices of the County and Deputy Commissioners under the Ministry of Interior and Interior and National Coordination have been pivotal in sustaining implementation of the resolution as they coordinate peace and security related matters.
“At the national level, we coordinate mainstreaming of the UN Resolution 1325.And since we do not have enough resources, we discourage duplication of activities,” she said.
“For instance, if an NGO is implementing certain activities in West Pokot, we do not need another organisation with similar activities. They have to look at a different area,” she said.