Monday, 23 October 2017

Risk of Sexual Violence Around Kenya’s Repeat Election

Human Rights Watch research confirms that, once again, there was sexual violence against women and girls during the most recent post-election violence in Kenya. I interviewed over 50 victims and witnesses in Mathare, Kisumu, Bungoma, and Dandora. They told me about rape, gang rape, attempted rape, unwanted sexual touching, and beatings on their genitals, including by members of security forces and militia groups and civilians.
Some survivors urgently need medical treatment and counseling. Many were unable to go to health facilities because they were afraid of retaliation or stigma or did not know where to go. Given that the police themselves were the attackers in some cases, few reported these crimes.
Since the 1990s, Kenyan elections have been marred by serious human rights violations, including killings, maiming, and destruction of property. In 2007-2008, over 1,000 people were killed and half a million displaced. Sexual violence against women and girls, though less visible, has been a part of these abuses and just as devastating for victims. Men and boys, to a lesser extent, have also been targeted.
The patterns of election-related violence in Kenya suggest that there is a real threat of sexual violence in next week’s repeat election. The Kenya government needs to be ready to take urgent measures to protect women and girls and to ensure that any women and girls assaulted have access to medical treatment and can report crimes and get help from the authorities.
The government needs a credible plan to ensure that sexual assault victims get timely and quality post-rape treatment. This need is more urgent because of the ongoing strike by nurses, limiting available health personnel and facilities. Information for communities on where victims can get post-rape care, including free treatment, is crucial.
Kenyan authorities have failed rape survivors. They should take measures during the upcoming elections to protect women against rape, including by government security agents. They should ensure that there are clear codes of conduct and disciplinary procedures in place, for example, with respect to police, and raise awareness and speak against sexual violence. When rape happens, offenders should be investigated and prosecuted. Women have a right to vote without the fear of sexual violence.
 Article and Research by Human Rights Watch

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Happy International Day of the Girl!!



I am extremely proud to be a Girl. I admit that it always comes with challenges and setbacks because our culture and society don’t seem to embrace the fact that we are all equal and seem to think our major role is reproducing and taking care of men.
Every few days of the month, we are often declared unclean and dirty. People actually think it’s just about bleeding but don’t think about the pain involved in menstrual cramps. Most of us dread this period and we always seem to forget the most beautiful thing about being a woman, that is, we are creators. We have the ability to give birth to new generations. We carry those little things in our wombs for nine months, give birth and nurture them into what they might become in future.
Another thing that makes me proud to be a girl is the fact that I can multi task. My parents don’t know this but whenever they gave me multiple chores to do at the same time, they were training me to become a great manager and a person who can handle many tasks at the same time.
The various challenges that come with being a girl don’t make me feel any less of a human being. They motivate me to become even more, to prove to the world that just because I was born a female doesn’t mean am less and that I can do anything I set out to do. I plan to get out there, and make a name for myself.

Article by Esther Wambui
Mentoring and Empowerment Camps Alumni

Monday, 9 October 2017

Understanding Self



It is high time that as young women, we begin to understand ourselves as we face life. Sometimes we never know what life is all about unless we face the truth. Just as fire is covered by smoke, and mirror is obscured by dust, just as an embryo rests deep within the womb, wisdom is hidden by selfish desire. We need to let our own being to be explained by us. We are the only ones who can describe ourselves best. We face challenges in life and think that we have no purpose being alive and in the end, find ourselves cursing the day our mothers gave us to the world. We really need to be our own self best encouragement before we get external help. Although, it’s never out of knowledge to ask for help but it’s stupid to never ask for help when you have sisters and mentors to hold your hand  whenever you feel like breaking down.

Article by
Miriam Wambua
Group 7 Camp Beneficiary

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Camp Diary of a Shy Girl to a Confident Young Woman: Part 5


At fifteen, I wasn’t sure about what I wanted in life. In the last exam, I had managed to score a C. that was the best I could produce. I was comfortable. Besides, I wasn’t the last one in the class and I was smart. I had managed to score 334 marks out of 500 in the Kenya Certificate for Primary Education (KCPE). Most of the people I was in high school with hadn’t achieved that much. I was part of the ‘elite’, or so I thought.
I joined camp a little bullied girl. I was bullied for all reasons varying from my weight, or my stand at refusing to join the Christian Union when everyone was a fanatic and was being attacked by ‘evil spirits’ in school. At some point, I was even branded as a follower of the ‘illuminati’ or whatever that was. Being in a catholic school, this was a very serious issue. It didn’t matter whether it was a stupid rumour. Whatever was being whispered in regards to this following was the truth. My classmates would threaten me by saying they would report me to the principal. That would have been the end of my high-school life. I would remember how my mum worked hard to provide for me and my siblings. How she would cross Kenyatta highway with two small buckets of water to water the plants to sell, how at some instances, she was almost hit by cars and the drivers would haul insults at her for being careless while crossing the road and I would feel so low. I tolerated how they treated me because I didn’t want to see my mother’s efforts go to waste. Besides, we had been through enough with my mum through primary school. I remember how she would wake up at four in the morning, prepare and take me to school. When it rained, she would walk through stagnant water with me on her back since we lived in a swampy area. We would get to town at around five thirty and she would go to her garden then, to water her plants. The thought of these tough times made me not wish to bother her with what I was going through in school.
I started the mentoring camps a beaten girl. Broken. I would share my story with my sisters during the evening sessions. No matter how small it seemed then, sharing eased the pain a little bit. The support system was amazing. We would spend the whole night encouraging each other to be strong and to remember what kept us going for so long.
During one of the sessions, I shared my grades. The facilitator looked at me then and told me I could do better. She even promised a prize to anyone who improved their grades. She later on asked me what I wanted to do with my life and I told her I wanted to be a doctor. She looked at me straight in the eye and told me that I wouldn’t be one if I continued scoring those poor grades. She later asked me what motivated me and what set my soul on fire when doing things. I told her my mum’s story and how I wanted to get her out of that job. She told me to always think of her whenever I felt like giving up.
I didn’t become a doctor but I am very happy where I am now and am glad to say that Resource Center gave birth to the person I am now. I came to realize afterwards that I didn’t want to be a doctor after all. I wanted to pursue social work and do amazing things and change people’s lives like how RCWG did to mine.
For that, I am truly grateful.



Article by 
Esther Wambui
Mentoring and Empowerment Camps Alumni
Group of 2015







Monday, 10 July 2017

CALL FOR APPLICATIONS


INTERNSHIP OPPORTUNITY
The Resource Center for Women and Girls (RCWG) is an organization based in Kenya, and works with young rural-urban girls and women from all parts of the country. The RCWG uses their prestigious empowerment and mentoring camps as a tool to promote personal transformation and empowerment among these girls. Our aim is to facilitate the development of the knowledge-base, so that young girls are better prepared to be not only agents of change in their communities, but also to participate in transformative leadership and the development of Kenya and of the African continent as a whole.
As an organization, we are made up of a small team of committed women who believe in leaving legacies for the next generation. We work with consultants from our networks, we train and mentor young rural-urban girls to develop awareness about themselves, and become potential key players in facilitating transformative change.  We therefore work to enhance their understanding of their human rights, social environment and to be more conscious actors in that environment. Our main goal is to invest in young rural girls and women as part of the process of maximising the potential of African societies to reproduce themselves. We want to transform our rural communities so that girls are afforded opportunities to learn, stay healthy and be agents of change. To this end, we are building a critical mass of informed girls (later women) who will be the agents of change and trailblazers in and for Africa.
We are looking for Interns who are willing to grow with the organisation, share in the mission and vision of the organisation and be part of this critical mass. 

Eligibility
  • Candidates must be young Women between the age of 19-29
  • Candidates must be willing to commit to a minimum of 4 months
  • Candidates must be an Alumni of the Prestigious Mentoring and Empowerment Camps of the RCWG
Apply
To apply, the following documents are required
  • Updated CV
  • Motivation Letter detailing why you should be considered for the Internship
  • Cover letter
Applications should be submitted to info@resourcecenter.or.ke

Monday, 12 June 2017

WHO’S TO BLAME?


Abortion is ILLEGAL in our country, yet young girls are still dying as a result of having unsafe abortions.  It is so infuriating and disheartening when very young girls are making wrong decisions even at the point of their death!!! A 13 year old girl from Mathare slum and four months pregnant died while being rushed to the hospital. Her mother wept painfully by her side calling her name each minute that’s passed by. The ambulance squeezed its self through the lanes in order to get to the hospital on time. How was her mother feeling?? Which thoughts crossed her mind?? Who would she blame because of the suffering her daughter was going through??? YES!! It’s obvious she had unprotected sex unknowingly or knowingly, concealed her pregnancy from every one and secretly tried to terminate it.  Four months and six days ago, the girl was found howling and lying down in their flats’ stairs helplessly and in pain. Her mother’s efforts of rushing her to the hospital bore no fruits.
May be its true you ‘reap what you sow’. But I also agree that ‘A young girl without a mentor is like an explorer without a map’. Maybe she was raped!! Had she had someone to talk to when she immediately had sex, would she have died?  Maybe she lacked the simple information of not having unprotected sex since the society supposes that talking about sex with young people is imprudent. Why did she think of terminating the pregnancy on the fourth month? Young women and girls in such circumstances have different fears and reasons for their actions.
As young people, we are living in an era that’s highly influenced by various factors. Technology for instance, is making different information accessible through phones, laptops e.t.c. But sometimes we find some information astounding or beyond our control. Peer pressure serves as another factor. Most teens would rather blend in what’s ‘Trending’ without reflecting on the consequences of their actions. Different environmental factors also contribute to early pregnancies for example Rape, early marriage, poverty, and relationships.
In the case study above, the girl knew the reason as to why she decided to have an abortion. May be she felt sorry for herself, hated the fact that she had failed in life, didn’t have the courage of facing and breaking the news to her parents or maybe she wanted to use that chance as her turning point. The society has an important and critical role of mentoring each young person. Instead of addressing them as the lost generation, guide them by giving them a sense of direction! The government should also join the package and introduce different ways and ideas of education young people about sexual and reproductive health especially in schools. Last but not least, parents being the most important people in the lives of their children should not avoid speaking about sex with their children.

This will help us STOP per-mature deaths of young girls, reduce early pregnancies and most importantly keep girls informed hence living healthy lives.

Article by 
Edith Mbuvi
Mentoring and Empowerment Camps Alumni
Group of 2013

Friday, 2 June 2017

Camp Diary of a Shy Girl to a Confident Young Woman: Part 4

All that she had learnt back then didn’t make a lot of sense. It was all about having fun and enjoying the travel, meeting her sisters once again and well, the change of environment was good for a disturbed soul like hers. That was her definition of camp, a rose garden where she could walk around and feel amazing, be free to speak her mind and no one would reproach her for it, feel protected, feel safe.
Looking back to those days, she sees the sense in what they were taught. She remembered imagining how freedom would feel like. The facilitators always insisted that freedom came with responsibility. She had always wondered what it meant until she got to campus and everything changed. Her mother was not with her to tell her to do things. Asking for permission to go anywhere was now foreign. She could eat whatever she wanted, wear what she wanted without seeking approval and she was a government sponsored student who had been awarded the Higher Education Loan. Part of it was spent to pay the school fees and the rest well, it stayed in her account which she had easy access to and wouldn’t have to ask for anyone’s approval to spend it. Nobody was controlling her anymore. FREEDOM!!
It felt so good. She could now meet the ‘’love of her life” without fear and could stay out for as long as she wanted. She didn’t know how wrong her perception of freedom was. She remembers how she would sneak out of school and travel to see him with her little allowance that she would receive from her struggling parents every month. She had forgotten where she had come from and the effort she had had to put to get to where she was at that moment. She would feel so proud telling people how she had passed her exams and was in an institution of her higher learning and yet she didn’t have a clear picture of how lost she was at that time. Pride had clouded her judgement. Besides, if she made it to the university, she could as well pass her exams without much effort. She stopped going to class. She had a room in the hostels but barely slept there. She made ‘appearances’ to school and was thrilled about it. The transformation was drastic. Whenever her friends or family asked why she was behaving that way, she would say that she was an adult in the eyes of the government and was free to do whatever she pleased. She had never protected anyone as much as she had protected her love. He was the only person in her life who loved her. She locked her friends and family out of her life. She didn’t need them.
She missed out on so much. She never got to socialize with new people in school but she was happy and didn’t care what people thought about her. Before her main exams, she was invited back for a Mentoring camp. She felt so nice filling out the evaluation forms on sex since she thought she knew everything. No one was as bright as her when it came to that topic. They were asked to make a SWOT. The facilitator had explained that a SWOT is an analysis that identifies the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats one had towards achieving a particular goal. The first goal she identified was finishing her university studies with a first class honours. As a challenge, she identified freedom as one of them.
When they went through their SWOT’s, reality started to dawn on her. Wow, people had dreams. She had dreams that she had completely forgotten about.
Her turn came to make a presentation of her SWOT and she felt embarrassed. She wished she could erase freedom as a challenge from the flip chart but it was too late. She had to explain what she meant and she did. The response she got from the facilitator made her mind switch from her entitled state to reality. The facilitator reminded her of her journey from high school and how she had struggled to achieve her grades. The hard work that her mother did to provide for her in order to raise her school fees. She cried. She was ashamed. The facilitator asked her to see her aside. The talk they had changed her.

Article by 
Esther Wambui
Mentoring and Empowerment Camps Alumni
Group of 2015