Coming together to change laws on gender-based violence in Kenya

Sonke Gender Justice is in the process of closing out the tri-nation United Nations Trust Fund (UNTF) project that has put funds towards ending gender-based violence (GBV) in Rwanda, Kenya and Sierra Leone. The team started out in Rwanda on the 9th of February and is currently in Nairobi evaluating the successes and lessons learnt during project implementation in this country. What stands out from the feedback is the value and importance that implementers placed on capacity building in the collective struggle to end GBV in Africa.

Since 2013, MenEngage Kenya (MenKen), a body of organisations that form part of the MenEngage Africa Network, has been implementing the UNTF funded project to end GBV in Kenya. One of the project’s aims has been centred on policy advocacy – working with policy-makers and government to ensure that GBV laws and policies include provisions to engage men and boys in prevention programmes as well as ensure protection for women and girls who are most affected. To do this, Sonke Gender Justice, UNWOMEN and many other partners have conducted numerous capacity building training programmes to increase the skills and knowledge of network members doing advocacy work in the policy environment.

To achieve this project objective, it was important to ensure that MenKen as implementing partners, were able to examine relevant existing policies and laws, identify gaps and, ultimately, provide language on men’s roles and responsibilities that was to be captured in a number of policy documents. Once this was achieved, MenKen was then able to lobby parliamentarians to publicly speak about the many forms of GBV men experience and push for this to be recognised in pending legislation related to domestic violence.

Project co-ordinator, Catherine Githae said “we have been working closely with MPs and male parliamentarians advocating for them to push for the passage of the Protection Against Domestic Violence Bill along with many other civil society partners. This was achieved also through our partnership with Sonke.”

Vincent Magero, Finance Manager at the Movement of Men Against AIDS in Kenya (MMAAK), implementing partner and member of MenKen reiterated this. “Sonke really gave us a lot of partner support. We really got capacity building – not only on the content – but also on processes and systems that needed to be put in place so that we function better and do the work,” he said.

Magero further explained that sharing of skills by training implementing countries and, thereby, capacitating them has been transformative not only for the growth of the organisations doing the work, but in using the newly acquired knowledge to achieve its goal towards making sure good policies and laws on GBV are developed and that men are not left behind in these efforts.