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Kenya, Finland partner on GBV and FGM issues

Kenya and Finland have ratified a bilateral partnership that will see both countries strengthen their intervention measures in response to Gender Based Violence (GBV) and Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).

The three year programme that will be rolled out nationally will be unveiled in the three pilot counties of Bungoma, Kilifi and Samburu to the tune of 6,000,000 Euros of which Kenya will contribute 1,000,000 Euros and Finland Government 5,000, 000 Euros.

The programme is aimed at advancing the on-going efforts to develop a preventive, protective supportive, responsive and transformative environment for the elimination of Gender Based Violence in the country.

The launch and signing of the programme was officiated and witnessed by the Cabinet Secretary for Public Service, Gender, Senior Citizen Affairs and Special Programmes, Prof. Margaret Kobia, and Ambassador of Finland to Kenya, Amb. Pirkka Tapiola at the Kenya School of Government, Kabete.

Prof. Kobia said the programme is vital as it supports the government’s vision of a society free practice of GBV and other harmful vices, helps to recognize the equal value of women, men, girls and boys, besides using a human rights based approach to address barriers related to access to GBV and prevention.

“This programme has been designed to help us recognize what is working and what we should take to scale, while seeking new innovations to catalyze leadership, partnerships and commitments at the national and county levels,” she said.

The CS said GBV and FGM can only be eliminated through information and awareness sharing among all actors and called for a multiagency collaboration, and all civil society organizations to work alongside the national and county governments within the coordination framework on the Gender Sector Working Group to enable the county have a safe, secure and more equal society.

“We must pull our financial and human resources together, avoid duplication and leverage on our respective strengths towards ending GBV in Kenya,” she stressed, and assured that her ministry through the State Department for Gender and the Anti-FGM Board will continue to coordinate all state actors and non-state actors towards ending GBV.

“This bi-lateral programme we are launching must address the practical and strategic gaps in the ongoing interventions to end GBV, which will be identified during the inception period of the programme,” she said.

Prof. Kobia added that the bilateral programme will also focus on gender equality and empowerment of women and girls, population and development, generation equality, the multi-agency programme on Gender Based Violence.

She singled out the National Policy on Gender and Development, the National Policy on the Eradication of Female Genital Mutilation, the National Policy on Prevention of and Response to GBV which is currently under review, the Protection Against Domestic Violence Act and the Sexual Offences Act as among the robust policies and laws that have been developed.

The CS thanked the Finland Government for partnership and their commitment to provide grants to civil society in the country to complement the interventions proposed in the launched programme.

In his remarks, Amb Tapiola said currently the Finnish Government’s focus is on enhancing the opportunities for women to participate in leadership and decision-making, support the implementation of the Kenya Women, Peace and Security National Action Plan and developing the prevention of and response to Gender Based Violence which are closely intertwined.

He said for Kenya to achieve gender equality, those involved in fight against GBV and FGM should also involve men and boys as allies and   behavioural change instead of only working on the rights of women and girls.

Amb Tapiola said the bilateral programme will also support the county level structures, policies and their implementation in Bungoma, Kilifi and Samburu, as the role of the county governments is key in providing support and leadership to the implementation.

“The results and lessons learned from the pilot counties will benefit other counties and programmes. However, the success of the programme rests on the commitment and contribution of all its manifold actors and stakeholders,” he said.

He commended the Kenya Government under the President Uhuru Kenyatta who he said has shown great commitment to eliminate FGM and GBV, citing the Generation Equality Forum in June this year where Kenya published a roadmap for advancing gender equality and ending all forms of GBV and FGM by 2026.

Since the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic, cases of GBV have been witnessed in many countries, including Kenya, and according to reported cases to the National GBV helpline “HAK1195” the cases increased by 360 per cent during 2020 compared to 2019.

Finland is a longstanding partner to UN Women Kenya country office, and works closely with the Kenyan Government and partners to not only to eliminate violence against women, but also in implementing the women, peace and security agenda and increase women in leadership.

The launch was attended by the Chief Administrative Secretaries, Linah Kilimo and Rachel Shebesh, Principal Secretary State Department for Gender, Colleta Suda, and Bungoma County Governor, Wycliffe Wangamati, among others.

By Bernadette Khaduli

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