What KNAP means to the Kenyan women and girls

First Lady Margaret Kenyatta as she officially launched the Kenya National Action Plan at KICC Nairobi during celebrations to mark the International Women’s Day. Photo: File
First Lady Margaret Kenyatta as she officially launched the Kenya National Action Plan at KICC Nairobi during celebrations to mark the International Women’s Day. Photo: File

The recently launched Kenya National Action Plan was developed to put into effect the United Nations Security Council Resolutions 1325 and 1820.

In keeping with its significance to the lives of millions of Kenyan women and girls, KNAP was launched on the International Women’s Day 2016 by First Lady Margaret Kenyatta.

On October 31, 2000 the United Nations passed a landmark Resolution 1325. It reaffirms the important role of women in the prevention and resolution of conflicts, peace negotiations, peace-building, peacekeeping, humanitarian response and post-conflict reconstruction.

Inclusion

Security Resolution 1325 stresses the importance of women’s equal participation and full involvement in all efforts for the maintenance and promotion of peace and security.

It brings to the fore the need for all stakeholders and actors from the grassroots to national level to increase participation of women and incorporate gender perspectives in all peace and security efforts.

However, even more important is for Kenya to acknowledge the significant role that women can and do play — a role that goes unrecognised — in peace keeping and conflict mitigation efforts.

Approach

The Resolution calls on all parties to conflict to take special measures to protect women and girls from gender based violence, particularly rape and other forms of sexual abuse, in situations of armed conflict.

However, peace and security experts are quick to add that this involvement should not be limited to when there is conflict but also in times of peace for violations of women and girls persist in stability and instability situations.

The Resolution brings to attention three concerns which are the disproportionate number of women and girls affected by armed conflict and the necessity to protect them in conflict and post-conflict settings.

It also addresses the under-representation of women in conflict resolution and peace-building activities and the importance of promoting women’s participation in all processes related to peace and security.

The Security Resolution states that it is imperative to mainstream a gender perspective in all aspects of peace-keeping operations and in the peace and security architecture of member states as well as the UN system.

Exclusion

Security Resolution 1820 which was adopted in June 2008 notes: “Women and girls are particularly targeted by the use of sexual violence, including in some cases as “a tactic of war to humiliate, dominate, instil fear in, and disperse and/or forcibly relocate civilian members of a community or ethnic group.”

The KNAP is, therefore, crucial particularly against a backdrop of continued violation of women and girls especially in times of conflict and their continued marginalisation during the development and implementation of conflict resolution mechanism. It speaks to the anticipated programme results of Jamii Thabiti which are targeting quick response to conflict and insecurity as well as tackling gender based violence and ensuring women’s participation at community security forums.

The journey towards developing KNAP has been long and winding having started in 2009 through a consultative process between an inter-ministerial secretariat in partnership with civil society groups.

The KNAP is a milestone in Kenya’s growing security architecture and in the journey towards realising the two UN Resolutions.

Media expert Oloo Janak says Kenya has continued to benefit from lessons learned by other states in the implementation process of the action plan.

“In this regard, it has had a ‘twinning’ process with the Republic of Finland on the Kenya National Action Plan’s (KNAP) development and implementation,” says Janak.

The KNAP is comprehensive and a reflection of collective efforts by stakeholders drawn from the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Development, the critical Civil Society Organisations which have remained vigilant in addressing human rights issues as well as various Commissions.

Strategic

The National Action Plan is strategic in the manner in which it addresses the two crucial resolutions — 1325 and 1820. There are many sources of conflict in Kenya and KNAP begins by categorising them into four broad categories.

These are conflicts within pastoralist communities which within the context of Jamii Thabiti Programme is key since Wajir, Mandera and Baringo are prone to this form of conflict. Jamii Thabiti tags it as inter-communal violence.

The KNAP further talks about conflicts between pastoralist and agricultural communities, conflicts linked to the presence of refugees (both linked to humanitarian and natural disasters) as well as ethnic and or political clashes or violence which are prone to happen across the eight counties where Jamii Thabiti is rolling out.

The KNAP, in its implementation will, therefore, show an acknowledgement of the fact that women play an important role in the prevention and resolution of conflicts and it was, therefore, important that they were equally involved in the process of maintaining national and international peace and security.

A gender responsiveness to conflict is key and in this regard, KNAP has recognised the need to adopt gender perspectives in peacekeeping operations and training of personnel on women’s rights.

There is, therefore, an explicit recognition of the fact that conflict affects women and girls in very different and unique ways. It is important that these differences are acknowledged and documented to ensure that peacekeeping efforts are cognisant of these differences.

Now that Kenya is entering another electioneering period, safeguarding the rights of women and girls cannot be overemphasised particularly in regard to what history has taught and the rampant violation of women and girls during the 2007-2008 post-election violence.

The KNAP seeks to address the vulnerabilities of women in conflict and post-conflict settings through promotion of their equal participation in the peace processes, as well as expanding the meaning of security to include secure livelihoods, environmental protection and access to resources.