Kenya: Rights Advocates Seek More Allocation for Gender Equality

Women rights organisations are pushing for an increased allocation to gender equality, a move that would bolster the government's fight against gender-based violence (GBV).

For the past three fiscal years, gender equality allocation has remained at 0.3 per cent despite the total annual budget growing, found Publish What You Fund, a global organisation that campaigns for aid transparency.

In 2019/20 out of the $25 billion budget, the national government allocated only $72m, an increase by just a $1 million from the previous fiscal year. Kenya's 2018/19 total budget was similarly $25 billion.

While in 2020/21, it maintained the similar ceiling with an $81 million allocation out of an annual budget of $31 billion.

An allocation that is too little to support anti-GBV programs and empowerment schemes that directly enable women and girls escape from violence, argued the rights advocates.

With reinforced anti-GBV efforts through President Uhuru Kenyatta's 12 commitments, comes the urgency to adequately equip ministries, departments and agencies that implement gender equality programs, they said.

Ending GBV

"Ending GBV requires other strategies or approaches...such as access to education for the girls. When girls are empowered there is a likelihood they can defend themselves, for instance, if it's an abusive marriage, the girl can move out and fend for themselves," said Equality Now, End Sexual Violence, program officer Jean Paul Murunga, during a press conference last Friday.

Under Generation Equality campaign, Mr Kenyatta has pledged a raft of measures to be implemented in the next five years, targeted at ending GBV.

Among them is full enforcement of GBV laws and policies by 2022, adoption of a GBV indicator in performance contracting framework as a tool of monitoring all the duty bearers on their progress in enforcing the respective legislations and guidelines as well as refine capture of gender statistics in the 2022 Kenya Demographic and Health Survey.

He has also committed $1 million each year, for GBV research and innovation. The evidence could boost designing and implementing programs aimed at containing the vice. And a further $23 million of domestic funding on GBV prevention and response by 2022, which would be increased to $50 million by 2026.

Beijing Platform for Action

Even so, Mr Mutunga said for each commitment to translate to meaningful benefits for all gender, it has to be well resourced and effectively implemented.

"We have progressed in instituting the necessary anti-GBV legislative framework but then we have not translated that to the benefit of women and girls the government sought to support when it committed under the Beijing Platform for Action," he reckoned.

"It is a very concerning scenario that one in every three women in Kenya has faced sexual or physical violence. In other countries, it's one out of 10, six or five," he said.

The advocates said they are collaborating with Kenya National Bureau of Statistics on establishing standards for collecting and sharing citizen generated data, an effort to boost end-GBV campaign through gender data.

Gender data gaps

"We are working with Kenya National Bureau of Standards to help them develop those guidelines so that we can bring the evidence we have been collecting over the years to feed into the formal system to fill the gender data gaps," said White Ribbon Alliance Kenya, advocacy and programs officer Sandra Mwarania.

Fida Kenya senior legal counsel Ilham Hisham raised concern over the fact that less than 30 per cent of the 47 counties have developed and passed domesticated GBV policies, yet they anchor plans to eliminate the vice.

"It is key for us to ensure counties pass domesticated GBV policies...that is how we are going to see results and people are going to be accountable," she said.

She expressed optimism that integration of GBV indicator in performance contracting framework of duty bearers will curb corruption that prevents survivors from accessing justice.

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