Women Against Gender Based Violence is an initiative of the SGBV Campaign at Mathare Social Justice Centre (MSJC), in collaboration with grassroots organizations’ advocating against gender based violence and drugs and crime in Mathare. Mathare is one of the largest informal settlements in Nairobi, with almost 300,000 inhabitants in population, the majority of whom are youth. The rate of gender based violence related cases has been growing in the post-covid period.
Kenya has undergone slow progress in realizing an end to gender based violence and inequalities. However, the process has witnessed obstacles and hurdles due to the societal differences that exist within our various communities. Most of the informal settlements in Nairobi are prone to social injustices and gender related violence, which is intricately connected to the social factors at play.
The majority of the population in Mathare lives under the constant challenge of poverty, thus making them prone to abuse and exploitation. Mathare Social Justice Centre (MSJC) has documented and championed for social justice against sexual violence and other human rights abuses such as rape, domestic violence and defilement. Most of the violations happen from the normalization of the violence within the community, and the exposure of children and young people to the harsh environment has contributed to the increasing rates of gender based violence within Mathare.
On Thursday August 17th, 2023, the “End Gender Based Violences and Sexual Harassment Tournament” was aimed at creating a platform for interaction, exchange and advocacy against the culture of the normalization of gender based injustices. The initiative was inspired by the need to interlink social injustices to all spheres affecting women including their livelihoods and empowerment. Therefore we must prioritise the creation of safe spaces and an environment for the people. The tournament brought various individuals and organizations, which permitted a rich opportunity for robust discussions, healing and advancing to the next step towards realizing an end to gender based violence in Mathare.
The tournament targeted the young mothers who mostly got pregnant at a tender teenage period. Some of whom are referred to as MSJC teen moms. Other objectives of the tournament included the generation of mechanisms to influence policy. Gender based violence cases seem to take a longer period to be processed or acted upon. Members of the community, on the other end, fail to understand or know the what to do when faced with cases of this nature. Therefore, it was important to create awareness of the existing policies, and enable an environment to discuss the challenges in addressing these grave situations. The tournament was held at the Austin Grounds in Mathare with various teams and participants from the Mathare community. It was a collaboration of the Mathare Social Justice Centre (MSJC) and the Coalition of Grassroots Human Rights Defenders. Other centres and committees present included the Githurai Social Justice Centre, Kasarani Social Justice Centre and the Ecological Justice Movement.
MSJC teen moms is a support group comprising of young women aged between 13yrs – 19yrs in Mathare. The team’s works towards community transformation, and fighting the systemic violence against women and young girls in Mathare. They also want to find practical means of sustaining themselves through art for social justice. The group is roughly 30 teenage moms from Mathare, who are actively engaged in community initiatives.
On, Thursday, August 17th, 2023, the MSJC teenage moms support group held a match against the CGHRD young mothers in the “End Gender Based Violence & Sexual Harassment Tournament.” Recently, there has been an observable rise in the number of cases of sexual and gender based violence against teenagers aged between 15-19 years. Most of the cases are perpetrated people close to the victims. From family members to friends, and people they know. After the crude encounter with the injustice, most victims tend to isolate themselves from the community and general reality.
The tournament’s main objective was to create awareness on the
fight towards ending these kinds of violences in Mathare as a whole. It also served as a psychosocial support extension for teen moms. The tournament was well attended by the members of the community, and especially men who were the target. After the
tournament, we had an interactive dialogue on the same theme that involved different actors and members of the community. The forum’s purpose was to stir a discussion on the way forward and the next action points. It was also meant to instigate a debate and offer a platform for community assessment and deliberation on issues related to gender relations and the increased rate of gender violence.
As a guide to the action plan, the participants proposed the following:
- Organizing monthly football tournaments to create awareness and intensify advocacy against gender based violence.
- Consistent documentation and referral of gender based violences. This needs an active gender based violence desk in specific zones, and during the tournaments.
- Collective design of mechanisms to promote psychosocial support among victims and survivors of gender based violence.
- Adopt creative modes like art, sports and theatre to sensitize and advocate against gender based violence.
- Consistent reflection, analysis and proposal of relevant policy.
- The creation of a collective framework in the fight against gender based violence.
- A campaign on drugs and crime in Mathare and other informal settlements.
More pictures from the tournament are below: