What you need to know:
- FEMNET hopes that one of the outcomes of the retreat will be “an energised, grounded, and connected community of feminists, gender and women’s rights activists collectively shaping COVID-19 recovery actions".
- The event will end with an African Journalists Gender Equality Awards ceremony where 16 finalists will be feted for their impactful stories on women and girls’ rights.
Nairobi Woman Representative Esther Passaris has urged women to be bold in the ballot, boardroom and bedroom.
She was speaking at the Pan-African feminist retreat in Nairobi, Kenya, on October 12, 2021.
The forum by The African Women’s Development and Communications Network (FEMNET) is “a two-day brave, creative, autonomous, and intersectional space for all those identifying themselves as feminists, activists, gender advocates, human rights defenders and movement leaders in Africa”.
Fifty countries who were represented offline and online convened under the theme Rekindling the Pan-African Feminism Spirit: An Inclusive, Just, Sustainable & Transformative Society Post-COVID-19.
In politics, they call us flower girls and slay queens.
"In politics, they call us flower girls and slay queens. It’s a competitive environment; women are pitted against each other. But no man’s worth putting a sister down. Let’s be strong in the ballot, boardrooms and bedrooms,” said Hon Passaris.
She was referring to the notion that women don’t support other women who vie for political seats and are afraid to say no or speak up in the boardroom and bedroom.
She decried the rise of Gender-Based Violence cases in Kenya in the Covid-19 era, and partly attributed it to women not being bold enough to say No.
A Human Rights Watch report titled I Had Nowhere to Go’: Violence against Women and Girls during the Covid-19 Pandemic in Kenya, which was released on September 21, indicates that Kenya, like many other countries around the world, experienced an increase in reported cases of physical and sexual violence, including domestic violence, against women and girls during restrictions on mobility to curb the spread of the virus.
Memory Kachambwa, the FEMNET Executive Director, said: “The Covid-19 pandemic, and its attendant economic and social crises have deepened inequalities between and within countries, as well as within our own homes."
"Girls have been pushed out of school, and women out of paid work. The compounded pressures of our “new normal” sparked a sharp increase in global rates of sexual and gender-based violence, now recognised as the shadow pandemic."
Mrs Emma Kaliya, the Chairperson of the FEMNET board, told participants that “the impact of the global pandemic has been devastating, with women and girls being the most affected as a result of years of rising inequalities, discrimination, normalised injustices and reversal of gains that we continue to witness in our countries.”
FEMNET hopes that one of the outcomes of the retreat will be “an energised, grounded, and connected community of feminists, gender and women’s rights activists collectively shaping COVID-19 recovery actions’‘.
The event will end with an African Journalists Gender Equality Awards ceremony where 16 finalists will be feted for their impactful stories on women and girls’ rights.