Eminent women to act as peace champions ahead of polls

African Women Leaders Network chairperson Jennifer Riria (centre), co-chairperson, Rahab Muyu (left) and Kenya Women Traders Association CEO Benter Opande at Serena Hotel, Nairobi, on Wednesday, January 12, 2022.They urged Kenyans to shun politicians who use inflammatory language and hate speech.

Photo credit: Dennis Onsongo | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • They called on the International Criminal Court to take note of all the warmongers who are beginning to plant seeds of discord.
  • They particularly challenged legislators and political aspirants to be good role models.

A section of women leaders and rights organisations have embarked on a national peace campaign ahead of the August 9 General Election.

Led by the African Women Leaders Network (AWLN), UN Women and Echo Network Africa, they seek to tame the rising political temperature and intolerance.

Addressing a press conference at a Nairobi hotel on Friday, they condemned inflammatory utterances by politicians, saying they were dangerous, reckless and aimed at whipping up ethnic emotions.

Dr Jennifer Riria, the CEO of Echo Network Africa and chairperson of AWLN-Kenya chapter, said violence usually disproportionately affects women and children more.

She challenged the institutions charged with enforcing the rule of law, among them the police and the Judiciary, to deal with leaders spreading hate speech and making inciteful remarks.

“This recklessness must end. We want our people to know that whenever political violence erupts, it is mostly women, children, the elderly and persons living with disability who suffer most. This is why we must ensure peace prevails,” said Dr Riria.

Warmongers

She also called on the International Criminal Court (ICC) to take note of all the warmongers who are beginning to plant seeds of discord.

Dr Riria disclosed that AWLN is in the process of putting together a team of eminent women to act as mediators and peace champions to be deployed in the 47 counties to support national peace initiatives under the rallying call Amani Kenya.

Maendeleo ya Wanawake chairperson Rahab Muiu said they are committed to nurturing and protecting peace and stability. She appealed to female politicians to avoid being drawn into violence, and urged leaders to be better examples for young people.

Role models

They particularly challenged legislators and political aspirants to be good role models and took issue with the recent fighting by MPs during the debate on the coalition parties Bill, saying it was a bad example to young people.

In their 10-point call to action, AWLN urged the National Cohesion and Integration Commission to up its game in, for instance, public sensitisation and holding leaders who contravene the law to account, irrespective of their status.

The rights groups told the political class to tone down rhetoric and mind the words they use in public.

“This is the time to take personal responsibility and demonstrate statesmanship and leadership. Leaders and parties have a particularly huge responsibility to take their followers and denounce any irresponsible utterances with speed,” the statement read.

They also appealed to the religious leaders to use opportunities and their capacities to preach peace on all their platforms, especially during religious gatherings.

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