2017 General Elections was a litmus test on the Kenya National Action Plan
Although Kenyans voted peacefully during the just concluded General Election, chaos erupted in different parts of the country after the presidential results were announced by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).
Violence erupted in the night and caught most slum dwellers unawares and thus majority did not have time to escape to safety. For two days that protestors battled with the police, there was little or no consideration for the innocent; especially women and children who opted to stay indoors out of fear.
According to media reports, the worst hit areas were Kibera and Mathare slums in Nairobi where teargas and gun shots rented the air.
“We did not sleep for two days due to the hostile environment. The house was filled with tear gas and sounds of gun shots made the situation worse leaving us cowed in fear,” says Rose Miruka, a businesswoman and resident of Olympic Estate in Kibera. “We had to put up with hungry children as there were no shops open to enable us buy anything.”
Although things have gone quiet, Miruka says the sound of gun shots keep echoing in her mind especially in the night when the atmosphere is quiet causing a lot of anxiety.
According to Jane Anyango, Executive Director of Kibera Woman for Peace and Fairness, the tension brought out many challenges that needed to be addressed if women are to participate effectively in peace building activities.
Women and children were not protected during this period and many of them continue to suffer trauma as a result of what they experienced. “Majority need psychosocial support and measures should have been put in place for this considering Kibera had been red flagged as a hotspot,” says Anyango.
She cites the experience of a 65 year old woman in Kibera who started bleeding heavily immediately the chaos started and had to be rushed to hospital. The experience of what happened in the 2007-2008 post-election violence is still fresh the minds of many and anything relating violence triggers fear and apprehension.
Anyango says one of the key documents that needs to be rolled out for implementation of women‘s participation in peace and security is the Kenya National Action Plan (KNAP) which was launched in March 2016.
Kenya is one of the few countries that has ratified the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 (UNSCR) and launched the Kenya National Action Plan running under the theme “Kuhusisha Wanawake ni Kudumisha Amani”, which means “to involve women is to sustain peace. The KNAP runs from 2016 to 2018.
The KNAP aims to mainstream UNSCR 1325 into national development, diplomacy, gender, conflict prevention, conflict resolution, peace, security, and reconciliation strategies. It also seeks to ensure the implementation of existing commitments by government to promote gender equality and women’s participation and leadership in public affairs at all levels.
Despite efforts to implement the KNAP by different stakeholders, there are fears that it has not rolled down to the ordinary Kenyan and hence the need to create awareness at the grassroots level.
According to Anyango, a lot of attention has been placed on sexual violence by many women’s rights organisations especially during the elections but many of them have ignored the psychosocial support that needs to be provided to survivors even after the violence has lessened.
“Women’s rights organisation have the opportunity to demand for accountability on the implementation of the Kenya National Action Plan (KNAP) to empower women to participate and address most importantly the pillar on prevention of violence against women and girls,” says Anyango while being cognisance to the KNAP expiry date.
There have been initiatives from the grassroots where women address challenges of post-election violence. Says Anyango: “We are conducting forums in the different villages in Kibera just to allow women to ventilate and speak about their experience in order to promote healing but this is still at a minimal stage.”
All UN Member states were tasked to develop their ow National Action Plans (NAP) that would establish a framework, strategies, and actions for coordinated implementation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 (UNSCR 1325). The Kenyan version of the NAP was aptly given the theme “Kuhusisha Wanawake ni Kudumisha Amani”, which means “to involve women is to sustain peace”. In essence all Kenyan women including those at the grassroots level should be involved in peace building and decision making within peace processes.