Kenyan Women's Consultation Group on the Current Crisis in Kenya (2008-01-29)
Your Excellency Kofi Annan
Your Excellency Graça Machel
Your Excellency Benjamin Mkapa
We thank Your Excellencies for the opportunity to address this forum. We make this presentation on behalf of Kenyan women who have been meeting in Nairobi over the last two weeks. Action Aid International, Vital Voices, UNIFEM, Nairobi Peace Initiative and Urgent Action Fund-Africa have facilitated the consultations. A committee of 11 women present here, represents the larger group.
Kenyan women assert their rights as citizens of this country to participate in all political processes and initiatives that seek to find solutions to the crisis that currently that our beloved motherland faces. We are mindful of our special responsibilities in all the spheres of nation building including truth & justice seeking, peacebuilding and reconciliation. We embrace all our diversities as we collectively seek solutions. We acknowledge that in the resolution of the current conflict, there has to be 'give and take' from both sides of the political divide. We assert that as citizens we must take responsibility for resolving and transforming the conflict and the inclusion and participation of civic groups, including women's groups at the community level is critical to the success of efforts to resolve the conflict.
The important role of women's participation in the prevention and resolution of conflicts is reaffirmed in The Constitutive Act of the African Union, The AU's Solemn Declaration on Gender Equality, The Protocol to the African Charter on the Rights of women in Africa, The African Charter on the Rights and welfare often Child, and by United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325. The resolution stresses the importance of women's equal participation and involvement in all efforts for the maintenance and promotion of peace and security, and the need to increase their role in decision -making with regard to conflict prevention.
The UN Resolution 1325 further calls on all actors involved, when negotiating and implementing peace agreements, to adopt a gender perspective, including, inter alia
a) The special needs of women and girls during repatriation and resettlement and for rehabilitation, reintegration and post conflict reconstruction.
b) Measures that support local women's peace initiatives and indigenous processes for conflict resolution, and that involve women in all of the implementation mechanisms of the peace process.
c) Measures that ensure the protection of and respect for human rights of women and girls, particularly as they relate to the constitution, the electoral system, the police and the judiciary;
All these instruments recognise the centrality of women to the development of democracy and democratic institutions and the importance of their participation at every level, and in every process. Women are central actors and 'right holders' in any process that addresses sustainable development, security and human rights. During this crisis, Kenyan women have been at the forefront in community peace building and mediation efforts in the North Rift and other areas.
Is there a conflict? What are The Facts?
A political crisis has engulfed the country following the announcement of presidential results on December 30, 2007.There are allegations of a flawed tallying process by the electoral commission , hence the dispute as to who the actual winner of the presidential vote was. As a consequence, violent conflict broke out in many parts of Kenya from December 30, 2008 and continues to this day. This conflict is expressed in the following ways:
1. Spontaneous and organised demonstrations against the ECK and the government.
2. Killings that have so far claimed the lives of over 700 Kenyans. These killings are by a) extra judicial executions by the police of targeted communities and demonstrators. b) Militia executions, torture and mutilations of civilians targeted at particular ethnic communities (these include forced circumcisions & castrations) and c) by ordinary citizens
3. Criminal conduct by citizens looting, burning and destruction of private and public property.
4. Increased sexual violence against women and children.
5. Suspension of constitutional freedoms including the freedom of conscience, assembly and worship.
6. Violation on the rights of the media and right to information by a ban on media broadcasting of live events.
7. Ethnic and politically instigated evictions of populations of certain communities from their properties resulting in large numbers of internally displaced Kenyans ( approximately 260,000)
8. Ethnically instigated employment displacement of workers in certain regions (tea peckers in Kericho) and eviction rental properties.
This situation has resulted in:
- A breakdown in the rule of law and a lack of confidence in institutions of law and order.
- Breakdown of social relationships and trust among Kenyan Communities and an exacerbation of existing ethnic tensions.
- Human insecurity (including food insecurity).
- Continued systematic and widespread violation of human rights and a lack of respect for the sanctity of life.
- Proliferation of propaganda by all parties including the state and an increase in hate media on all media (FM stations -in particular vernacular FM stations, print, electronic and new media -text messaging, email, internet) that demonises particular communities.
What are the gender dimensions of the conflict?
Institutionalised discrimination against women even before the current violence broke out has informed the expression on gender-based violence. Discriminatory laws sanction marginalisation and exclusion of women. Despite a 2006 presidential decree for a 30% inclusion of women in public institutions, there is no constitutional provision or law providing for affirmative action.
Rapes and sexual violence on women and children has reportedly increased. Statistics from the Nairobi Women's Hospital show a steep increase in admission and treatment for rape. Majority of the new cases since January 1 2008 are of victims of gang rapes. Increased exposure to HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted diseases.
High levels of poverty and landlessness affect women disproportionately.
Humanitarian Relief Aid
The majority of displaced are women and children. Humanitarian Relief kits often fail to take account of the needs of women and children. There exists a gap in the provision of Sanitary towels, infant mix and Mosquito nets. Sanitation and hygiene needs of women in the camps require attention.
Security in the camps and troubled areas is insufficient. Threats of gender specific attacks against women are high.
People living with HIV/AIDS have had their treatment interrupted; Provision of Health services has been compromised. Access to PEP's and immediate medical care fro rape victims' non-existent. The closure of certain areas by security personnel has locked in populations from accessing health facilities.
Recommendations on the resolving the Crisis
A political solution backed by force of law that assures the following:
- An immediate end to the killings.
- A public acknowledgement by both parties that the current crisis was triggered by electoral malpractices in the tallying process that culminated with the announcement of results of the presidential election of December 2007.
- An acknowledgement that Kenyans are entitled to know the truth and to seek justice over the issue having participated in the electoral process. The problem (and solution to it) is beyond the two political protagonists. Women as a group constitute 52% of Kenya's population and the majority of voters and those most affected by the current crisis.
- An independent investigation into the trigger event to establish the truth of what happened: the outcome of which should be tailored to establishing a political solution to the current impasse and restoring public confidence in Kenya's institutions of democracy. Any agreement should be backed by force of law and ensure women's participation as key actors.
- Immediate reinstatement of constitutional freedoms - the right to assemble, right to worship, right of media to broadcast live events. Citizens have a right to assert their constitutional rights without hindrance.
- Cessation of violence against civilians by the police, militia and others.
- Immediate cessation of hate propaganda currently on all media (by Legislation or administrative action).
- Resettlement: should take account of the special needs of women and children displaced by the violence. State should provide security for the civilian population.
- End to impunity for violations of human rights (by all parties) by investigating crimes that are being committed and prosecuting perpetrators.
- Strengthening of institutions that support democratic constitutional governance (The Electoral Commission, the Judiciary, the Anti Corruption agencies and Parliament). This can be done through immediate legislative reform pending comprehensive constitutional reform.
Medium and long term -Nation Building
Women acknowledge that they must embark on a process of Nation building for sustainable peace to be achieved. Important mid-term solutions include the following: The times call for Women of Kenya call fro transformative leadership at this time that brings values and ethics to the management of public affairs
- A minimum constitutional settlement and reform that would ensure an urgent reform of institutions that support a constitutional democracy grounded on sound legal framework followed by ;
- Comprehensive Constitutional Reform that would ensure equitable distribution of national resources, gender equality, affirmative action, equal rights for minorities and persons with disabilities including rights political participation. .
- Transitional Justice mechanisms that deal with the question of historical injustices that include gross human rights violations, massacre, assassinations, economic crimes and corruption , ethnic and political clashes .establishment a historical record, confronting and gaining truth about past injustices, creating accountability for human rights violations and ultimately reconciling Kenyan communities.
- Finalisation and adoption of the Peace and Conflict Prevention Policy.
- Peace education for prejudice reduction in primary schools.
Recommendations for the Process
- That there should be a mechanism for accountability by the mediation team to Kenyan women on the progress of the mediation. Such mechanism could be spelt out in a public mediation agreement.
- That there should be continued engagement with women as key stakeholders in all stages of the mediation.
- That a local gender advisor be appointed to provide the necessary expertise to the team of mediators. There is sufficient expertise within the women's movement in Kenya in the fields of gender, children's rights, women's rights, and peace and conflict transformation.
- Political parties should have women represented on their teams in keeping with the enabling instruments.
- That the mediation continues until such time as peace is restored in Kenya.
This statement is presented and signed by the Committee Nominated by the Women's Organisations 25th January 2008 (For a List of women attending the Women's consultations over the last three weeks, please contact Pambazuka News).
1 Florence Mpaayei -- Nairobi Peace Initiative -Africa
2 Atsango Chesoni --Member ODM and Consultant, Human Rights
3 Njeri Kabeberi ---Center for Multi Party democracy
4 Mildred Ngesa---Association of Media Women of Kenya
5 Margaret Shava-- International Alert
6 Catherine Mumma --Consultant, Human Rights & Governance
7 Kaari Betty Murungi --Urgent Action Fund-Africa
8 Saida Ali --Young Women's Leadership Institute
9 Rukia Subow --Maendeleo ya Wanawake
10 Josephine Ojiambo - Member of PNU 's National Coordinating Committee
11 Margaret Hutchinson --Education Centre for Women in Democracy