“We strongly discourage the concept of Maslaha and any act that violates the rights of girls. Cases of rape, defilement, GBV and early marriages involving minors, girls and women should be met with the full force of the law”, Halima Dida Chair – Isiolo Women of Faith Network (IWFN)
Isiolo women of faith network was inaugurated in 2009 as a local chapter of Kenya Women of Faith Network. The formation of Isiolo Women of faith network was informed by the realization that widespread gender-based violence, of several sorts, is not only a serious and persistent problem in Isiolo but a threat to the realization of equal rights by women. The network has evolved from that into a critical actor in peace-building and promotion of cohesion in the county. The women collaborate with the local security agencies, to actively create awareness on inter-community conflicts and violent extremism through Nyumba Kumi, peace committees, and various women solidarity groups.
“FGM and early marriages are a violation of human rights to dignity, health, education and life and we stress it’s not a religious requirement therefore we are committed to partnering with relevant stakeholders to identify and train male champions because most communities practicing, FGM acts as a criterion to early marriages,” stated part of the open day press statement by the Isiolo Women of Faith.
The IWFN open day was attended by county government representatives, women representatives, the county commissioner, interfaith youth, religious leaders, CSOs and representatives from Diakonia and the Embassy of Sweden. The day was to recognize, celebrate, encourage and stand in solidarity with women who go out of their way each day to make a difference in their communities.
One by one the women narrated and show cased their involved in the fight against FGM, early marriages and PCVE in the County. The women had not been deterred by limited resources and cultural obstacles in their fight for equal rights for women and girls and safeguarding them from all forms of violence.
The women were awarded certificates for being peace champions in the county.
“We are committed to empowering girls and women to lead change by creating an enabling environment through partnership and advocacy of policies, legislation, and shifting social and gender norms through community-driven efforts,” – Stated their commitment as IWFN
The women raised recommendations to various key stakeholders; among the recommendations included:
- There is need to support capacity-strengthening of social workers, religious institutions and school guidance counselors among other stakeholders through training to increase their awareness, prevention and response strategies of gender based violence, early marriages and FGM.
- Legal aid services should be complemented by psycho-social support, so that victims are able to effectively claim their rights while restoring their mental and emotional health. We encourage safe spaces for girls and women that help them to openly share as this gives them psychological relief and also be able to support each other.
- An Anti FGM steering Committee should be established in Isiolo County to aid in accelerating the presidents’ directive to end FGM in Kenya by 2022.
- Avenues, safe houses and platforms for survivors of SGBV should be created and implemented.
- There is need for the media to be trained on protocols of reporting gender-based violence.
- Create awareness and include GBV management in trainings for health staff, social workers, the judiciary, security agencies, and policymakers in general.
The women of faith officially announced a countywide campaign to bring to an end violence against women and girls. They appealed for collaboration and support from the national and county government, religious leaders, civil society, development partners and all people of goodwill to help achieve and realize their commitments.