The Commonwealth of Learning (COL) continues in its support of the Rural Education and Economic Enhancement Programme (REEP) to conduct training for 20 members of the Marachi Council of Elders (traditional leaders) and 200 boys to become agents of change in Busia, Kenya. To support the Council of Elders in reaching members of the community, REEP trained 12 male champions of gender from four villages in the county.
The male champions were trained in advocacy to help ensure that the targeted 450 girls who will receive training in human rights and the available protective legislations have the support of their communities in tackling all forms of violence against women and girls.
During training, the gender champions were able to listen to a first-hand account of Janet Auma — a survivor of gender-based violence (GBV). Janet, a 24-year-old mother of two, became pregnant as a teenager and was married off to a man 15 years older. When she left her husband due to domestic violence, he ambushed her at her parents’ home and chopped off her right hand. Janet a hairdresser, can no longer pursue her profession but is gaining the courage to speak out against GBV with the support of REEP.
Dr Karen Nyangara, Adviser: Gender, COL, commented, “Without involving men, it is difficult to deconstruct the social norms that condone GBV.” She added that the courage of survivors like Janet to speak out to leaders in her community can create an urgency for dialogue and action on behaviour change and protection for women and girls.
The area has been subject to historically high rates of sexual and GBV against women and girls. But today, REEP is working to build the capacity of men, boys and community leaders as advocates for changing discriminatory social norms.
Image caption: Ms Mary Makokha, Director of REEP, with male champions after the certification ceremony.