From January 2016, the AAYMCA, in partnership with Coexist and Pawa254, will undertake an ambitious project designed to address gender-based violence in Kenya. This project aims to complement existing legislation and enhance anti-GBV implementation processes through influencing communities’ attitudes in order to decrease acceptance of violence against women (VAW). As a direct result, the project intends to decrease incidents of violence, lower the threshold for reporting and intervene when violence against women occurs.

The Kenya Constitution of 2010 protects individuals against discrimination, the Children’s Act, the Anti-FGM Act, and the Sexual Offences Act legislate penalties for violence against women and girls.

Despite the legal framework, the prevalence of violence against women is still uncomfortably high. The Gender Index reports that the laws have been unable to change the social acceptance of violence which hinders reporting and prosecution. Discriminatory attitudes amongst the police and judiciary prevent women from reporting violence.

An added difficulty is that the police are often reluctant to intervene, as violence against women is often perceived as a family matter.

Currently, the project intends to act in the following areas:

1: Social media is emerging as a new platform of violence and needs to be addressed; the project will be inviting youth to action through social media.

2: Through a transformative masculinity lens, the project will work to increase competences for young men to find alternatives to violence in their relations with women and encourage them to support ending VAW.

3: Through role modelling, mentoring and community dialogue by creating safe spaces, the project will move men from a hegemonic, dominant, masculinity to one which supports equality and inclusivity of women’s needs and rights.

This collaborative project is well placed to engage men and change social norms. With a large network, the project will mobilise engagement at local and national levels. Boys and young men will be reached locally through schools, work places, faith-based organisations, and YMCA branches. The YMCA youth training emphasises personal development, leadership and advocacy skills, and will include mentoring on transforming masculinity. Through the use of social media, the project will move beyond changing attitudes, and allow young men to express themselves, engage and create positive change. The project participants will be empowered and encouraged to engage local stakeholders and partake in national advocacy campaigns.

By Purity Kiguatha, AAYMCA

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