We live in a world of big contrasts. On one hand, we have seen an unprecedented digital revolution coupled with mobile money that has transformed the financial landscape, especially in sub-Saharan Africa. Then there’s the starkly opposed other reality, a reality where the status of women and girls’ empowerment remains a matter of grave concern. Regardless of technological advances, women and girls are literally regarded as lesser persons in too many places.
Nowhere is this more evident than in Kenya, where statistics from the latest 2014 Kenya Demographic Health Survey shows that four percent of married women between ages 20 and 24 were married by age 15, and 23 percent were married by age 18. Perhaps the toughest communities for women are the pastoralist ones, where gender-based violence takes the form of many unchecked and retrogressive cultural practices like female genital mutilation, early or forced marriage, domestic brutality, intimate partner violence and taboos around menstruation. When compounded with an entrenched system of patriarchal norms and practices, these practices continue to hold women and girls back from achieving their full emancipation.
I could go on and on about the suffering that women and girls face, but I have a single overriding message: gender-based violence cannot be ignored or tolerated any longer.
In fact, no further justification is needed as to why the situation of women and girls deserves local, national and international attention. Our CWS team believes that it’s time to put an end to the unacceptable violation of women and girls’ fundamental rights, once and for all.
How can you get involved?
Make your pledge today to beat the drum.
Across Africa, drum beating is known as the heartbeat of Africa – a sacred call to respond fully in body, mind and spirit to a situation. With your support, we are beating the drum by rolling out strategies and actions to help women in West Pokot. For example, we are developing a community information bus. This mobile and adaptable project helps to provide information and training on functional and digital literacy. We are helping to give women and girls a voice by making sure that girls have the chance to attend and stay in school, providing leadership training and by making sure communities have information about the rights that women and girls have.
We’re not finished, either. Still on the agenda: policy review and mapping, enhancing vocational training and advocacy to raise the status of women and girls in West Pokot.
Caleb Wafula is the Information Specialist with CWS Africa.