Lack of economic empowerment for women has been cited as a major factor contributing to sexual gender based violence (SGBV) cases against women in the country.
The Programme Officer for Mobilization Agency for Paralegal Communities in Africa (MAPACA) Jackline Okinyi noted that due to this, women have been excluded from participating in key economic decision-making at all levels right from the household to the national levels.
‘Despite the abundance of national laws, regional and international instruments that address SGBV, it is still highly prevalent in Kenya as 40.7 percent of women report to have experienced physical and sexual violence,’ Okinyi said.
She said this during a Women Economic Empowerment meeting in a Wote town hotel.
The forum participants were drawn from key National and County government departments and organizations involved in women empowerment activities in the county.
Further she disclosed that in Makueni, sexual abuse including defilement, incest, indecent assault and sodomy was the most highlighted issue at 70% of all violations.
At the same time, the programme officer said that poverty was also a risk factor that contributes to inequality for women while adding that women experience intimate partner violence and are unable to leave abusive families.
Okinyi said her organization was out to empower women in the county with knowledge and skills to enable them enjoy their rights.
‘MAPACA believes that women economic empowerment is central to the realization of women’s rights and gender equality and that empowerment of women is at the forefront of development and curbing SGBV in Kenya,’ said Okinyi.
She said MAPACA will train women survivors of SGBV and later fund them to start income generating activities that will enable them to fend for themselves.
During the meeting, the members agreed to create awareness and break norms hindering women empowerment in the community as well as train women on economic empowerment.
Speaking at the same meeting, the County Gender Director Mrs. Jane Makau urged all those involved in women issues to pull resources together to avoid duplication of efforts.
Mrs. Makau said it was imperative to help survivors of SGBV while noting that the county government was in the process of re-engineering the Makueni Empowerment Fund that had been stopped due to beneficiaries’ failure to pay loans.
‘We had advanced loans to a tune of Sh 47 million to various groups who are yet to pay. Now the Makueni Empowerment Fund has a Manager to manage the funds,’ said Mrs. Makau.
Source: Kenya News Agency