The 2021 initiatives instituted to enhance gender equality

French President Emmanuel Macron with President Uhuru Kenyatta at the opening session of the Generation Equality Forum,  convened by UN Women and co-hosted by the governments of Mexico and France, in Paris, last year.

Photo credit: Photo | AFP

What you need to know:

  • The year 2021 saw a number of local and global initiatives and campaigns being instituted to enhance gender equality.
  • President Uhuru Kenyatta launched the action coalition commitments in July when he officially launched the Generation Equality Forum, Kenyan Chapter.
  • In October, Kenya launched its first ever policy for the National Police Service integrated response to GBV, dubbed Policare.

Even before the outbreak of the Covid-19 in 2020, the world was grappling with gender inequality, with women and girls being the major casualties.

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The pandemic, therefore, only came to make a bad situation worse with cases of gender-based violence (GBV) and lack of access to reproductive health commodities increasing tremendously.

To revert the situation, the year 2021 saw a number of local and global initiatives and campaigns being instituted to enhance gender equality.

Here are some of them:

Kenya’s Action Coalition to fight GBV

Under the Generation Equality Forum GBV Action Coalition, the government made commitments on gender equality.

President Uhuru Kenyatta launched the action coalition commitments in July when he officially launched the Generation Equality Forum (GEF) Kenyan Chapter.

Top on the commitment is the establishment of GBV recovery centres and shelters in all the 47 counties and scale up the national police service integrated to GBV (Policare).

The president also committed to develop the GBV management and information system by 2022, and introduce modules on GBV in the 2022 Kenya Demographic survey.

Uhuru also committed to invest $1 million (Ksh100 million) annually, to GBV research and innovation and strengthen collaboration with non-state actors, including girl-led women rights.

Kenya also committed GBV prevention responses in crisis situations such as Covid-19 pandemic, humanitarian contexts and electoral related gender violence.


In October, Kenya launched its first ever policy for the National Police Service (NPS) integrated response to GBV, dubbed Policare. It was intended to provide comprehensive support services including legal, psychosocial support, police and health to survivors of GBV.

Policare is a one stop centre that offers integrated services to victims and offenders sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV).

It will host victims' interview rooms, crime records room, a triage, forensic evidence storage room, trauma centres, a room for medical examination and P3 issuance, and male and female holding cells.

It is intended to enhance collaboration and synergy within the criminal justice system and elimination of victimisation and interference of victims and witnesses.

It also seeks the facilitation of expeditious justice and closure of SGBV cases by ensuring knowledge management and capacity building for effective victim support and justice. The centres, which will be established across the country, will be equipped to provide all the necessary services.

VoteADada Campaign

Federation of Women Lawyers (Fida) launched a campaign dubbed “#VoteADada” aimed at promoting the participation of women in political leadership at the national and county level ahead of the 2022 General Election.

The campaign also calls for increased women’s participation and representation in the country’s leadership.

Fida-Kenya Chairperson Nancy Ikinu (left) briefs media during the Women Leadership Conference held at a Nairobi hotel in August last year. The conference also marked the  the launch of Vote A Dada Campaign, aimed at empowering women to compete in the upcoming general election.

Photo credit: Francis Nderitu | Nation Media Group

It is also geared towards initiating dialogue and actions that will be implemented towards achieving the constitutional minimum of two-thirds in elective and appointive positions in the forthcoming election.

The campaign also aims at building a sensitisation aimed at building capacity of women eyeing elective seats in the 2022 election.

Spot it, Stop it campaign

Safaricom, Unicef and the Department of Children Services last November launched the Spot it, Stop it campaign. It promotes awareness on all forms of violence against children and advocates for change. It is also geared towards enlightening the masses on prevention of violence against children.

Through the campaign, children will be informed on how to identify and report online abuse with the Directorate of Children Services and Unicef. They will also distribute a child friendly booklet on violence against children. Cases of violence against children will be reported to the relevant authorities through the toll-free numbers including 116, 999, 112 or child protection offices.

The campaign targets all 47 counties but with initial launches in high-risk counties including Nairobi, Garissa, Kilifi, Turkana and Mombasa.

Kenya, Finland bilateral GBV program

Kenya and Finland launched a Sh760 million three-year bilateral gender-based violence (GBV) programme to strengthen prevention and response to GBV in the country.

The programme will see the Finish government inject five million Euros while Kenya will give one million Euros, to finance the project to be implemented in Bungoma, Kilifi, and Samburu counties.

The initiative aims to strengthen the duty-bearers’ capacity to provide GBV first-response services and accountability.

Among its key interventions will be to support the government to conduct a functional review of GBV service delivery, and use the findings to develop and implement a coordinated capacity development plan (CDP).

It will also support safety audits, community consultations and mapping to conduct a rights-based analysis to systematically address gender equality and non-discrimination.

Regional action plan on cross-border FGM

Five countries in the East African region launched a regional action plan to eliminate cross-border FGM.

Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Ethiopia and Somalia plan to develop a comprehensive programme of action aimed at strengthening the implementation of regional human rights instruments that call for the elimination of FGM.

It also constitutes a framework for State and non-State actors to enhance prevention, protection, and prosecution programmes in ending cross-border FGM.

According to Unicef, the five countries account for approximately 25 per cent (48.5 million) of the 200 million girls and women who have undergone FGM globally.

“Join the Chorus” initiative

The Commonwealth Secretariat and NO MORE Foundation launched a ‘Join The Chorus’ initiative to help the 54-member countries tackle an alarming rise in domestic and sexual violence during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The initiative offers governments, non-profits and the public, new tools and strategies to expand coordinated action to prevent and stop domestic and sexual violence in their countries, communities and homes across the world.

It was unveiled on the side-lines of the 2021 UN General Assembly (UNGA) session, which took place in New York, last September.

The initiative reach out to individual leaders in a bid to have them commit in making SGBV prevention a top priority in rebuilding efforts post Covid-19 pandemic.

Central to the initiative will be an animated public service message that will feature five Commonwealth celebrities, who will stress the need for collective effort to stop the violence.

The Bodyright Movement campaign

UNFPA launched a global campaign dubbed Bodyright Movement, to end online violence against women and girls.

The campaign drives the message that women, girls, racial and other marginalised groups are undervalued, exploited, and violated online.

The drive seeks to have everyone join the movement and hold policymakers, companies, and individuals to account on ending online violence.

Reports of online harassment including cyber stalking and hate speech, to the non-consensual use of images and video such as deepfakes are widespread

According to the Economist Intelligence Unit, 85 per cent of women with access to the internet reported witnessing online violence against other women, and 38 per cent experienced it personally.

Around 65 per cent of women surveyed have experienced cyber-harassment, hate speech and defamation, while 57 per cent have experienced video and image-based abuse and ‘astroturfing’, where damaging content is shared concurrently across platforms.

Nine out of 10 women (92 per cent) report online violence harms their sense of well-being and over a third (35per cent) have experienced mental health issues due to online violence.

Feminist Plan for Sustainability and Social Justice

UN Women in September, launched the Feminist Plan for Sustainability and Social Justice Campaign to ensure gender equity post Covid-19 period.

The plan seeks to stress on a post-Covid economy that supports women’s livelihoods, a care-led recovery that would prioritise investments in the expansion of quality care services to create jobs and increase support for unpaid caregivers.

It stresses on investing in the care economy and social infrastructure including the expansion of quality care services to create jobs and increase support for unpaid caregivers.

The report also recommends promoting women’s leadership across institutional spaces from governments to civil society and the private sector, especially in crisis response.

It also calls for an increase in funding for women’s organisations noting that despite their critical roles as watchdogs and providing a social safety net in communities, women’s organisations are seriously under-funded.


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