Poll-related SGBV derailing gender equality push

At least 201 reported cases of sexual violence that emerged from the 2017 post-election violence remain unresolved five years later.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Sustainable Development Goals Forum Kenya, in a study, details the trends and progress of implementing five of the SDGs in Kenya.
  • Forum executive director Florence Syevuo said implementation progress has been halted and reversed by Covid-19, climate change effects, Ukraine war and political intolerance.

Election-related sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) threatens to derail equality and development, a study has revealed.

Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Forum Kenya, in a study titled ‘Civil Societies Position Paper-High Level Political Forum and released in Nairobi on Friday, details the trends and progress of implementing five of the SDGs in Kenya.

Noting that only eight years are left to achieve SDG5 on gender equality and empowerment of all women and girls, Florence Syevuo, the forum’s executive director, said implementation progress has been halted and reversed by a number of factors, including Covid-19, impacts of climate change, the war in Ukraine and, recently, political intolerance due to the upcoming general election.

“Kenya has had one general election in 2017 since the implementation of the Sustainable Development Agenda began in January 2016 and this year will be the second general election during the implementation period of Agenda 2030.

"Our anxiety about the 2022 General Election is similar to what we had in the 2017 General Election. Political intolerance on the part of both political parties, aspirants and supporters threatens significant progress made by both government and non-state actors in preventing sexual and gender-based violence,” she said.

The SDG Forum revealed that 3,884 cases of SGBV were recorded in 2020, a sharp increase from the 2,189 cases reported in 2019.

The SDG implementing partners under the consortium, amongst them Akili Dada, African Women Development and Communication Network, and the Centre for Rights Education and Awareness, revealed that this trend is likely to be exacerbated by the election.

A similar trend was seen in the aftermath of the 2017 polls whereby SGBV was rampant. Furthermore, a 2018 Kenya National Commission on Human Rights report found at least 201 people, mostly women and girls, experienced SGBV during and after the 2017 polls.

Cyber-violence

Usawa Agenda executive director and board secretary Emmanuel Manyasa, who spoke during the event, also expressed concern about the rise in cyber-violence against women, especially female politicians.

Dr Munyasa’s concerns were shared by Nairobi Woman Representative Esther Passaris, who revealed that women politicians are more likely to be affected by online SGBV.

She was speaking in a joint meeting between the Kenya Women Parliamentary Association and Danish Embassy in May.

Ms Passaris said she was trolled online due to defamatory claims made against her after she attended a television show with a political opponent in 2016.

The Nairobi Woman Representative said she could not stomach attending another show hosted by the same presenter.

The SDG Forum Kenya now advocates that political parties and their supporters leverage their positions of influence to reduce all forms of political violence. 

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