Stories

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Human rights defenders in Kenya are often the first responders to human rights violations, including gender-based violence. Since 2019, UN Women and the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights has been supporting legal training and capacity-building of grass-roots organizations so that they can better assist survivors.
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Wanjuhi Njoroge, 31, was raised in Nyeri County, Kenya, in a rural town that sits at the foot of Mount Kenya. Passionate about her community, she established a library in her village in 2017 and supporting local farmers to move to more sustainable farming practices. In 2019 she joined the Kenyan national chapter of the African Women Leader’s Network (AWLN), an action-oriented movement of African women leaders to transform sustainable peace, security and development issues on the continent.
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Millie Odhiambo, 55, is one of Kenya’s fearless politicians. The legal frameworks she has ushered through Parliament provide unprecedented protection for victims of crime. Although sexual harassment and election-related violence often plague women politicians in Kenya, Odhiambo and her peers are proving that women deliver for gender equality and protection of survivors. She is also pushing for enforcing existing quota laws
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Natalie Robi Tingo, 28, is the Founder and Executive Director of Msichana Empowerment Kuria, a women-led community-based organization in rural Kenya that has since 2015 worked to end female genital mutilation (FGM) by tackling its root causes and empowering women and girls.
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Aisha*, 12 years old, is now living in a shelter in the coastal region of Kenya, with 34 other children who have experienced gender-based violence. When schools closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, these girls fell victims to sexual abuse within their homes.
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Gladys Koech has been working as an occupational therapist for persons with disabilities in Kenya’s coastal region for more than 10 years. Through the Association of the Physically Disabled of Kenya (APDK), she also works with communities to strengthen their understanding of disabilities and combat widespread stigma. UN Women’s partnership with the Council of Governors in Kenya has boosted resources to helplines around the country. As COVID-19 has increased demand for psychosocial services, Koech has witnessed a growing trend of mothers of children with disabilities being abandoned by their partners. Part of UN Women’s COVID-19 response in Kenya is being carried out in conjunction with UNICEF and UNDP as part of the Joint Devolution Programme supported by the Governments of Sweden, Finland, and Italy.
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Dr. Christine Sadia is a gender and public health expert with over 30 years’ experience advising governments on health and gender issues, such as psychosocial needs of women in the aftermath of the Rwandan genocide and HIV programming during the Indonesia tsunami. UN Women is supporting Dr. Sadia in her current role as a Gender and Public Health Advisor for Kenya’s State Department for Gender Affairs, to advise on the country’s national emergency response for COVID-19.
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Cecilia Mwende Maundu is a broadcast journalist based in Kenya and a specialist in gender digital safety. She is also the current Secretary General of the International Association of Women in Radio and Television, Kenyan chapter. During COVID-19, women and girls are using the internet more than ever to stay connected with the world, but they are also the targets of online violence in the form of physical threats, sexual harassment, stalking, zoombombing and sex trolling.
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Esther Macharia, 37, is a single mother and the only breadwinner for herself and her daughter. When the COVID-19 crisis came to Kenya, she lost nearly her entire income as a rideshare driver in Nairobi, as people are no longer requesting rides. Her story reflects the hardship that millions of women now face, as workers with low wages and without safety nets.
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UN Women sister organization UNFPA is celebrating this week the 25th anniversary of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) – a milestone in global reproductive health and rights. From 12-14 November, the governments of Kenya and Denmark along with UNFPA are co-convening the Nairobi Summit on ICPD25, a high-level conference to mobilize the political will and financial commitments urgently needed to fully implement the ICPD Programme of Action.
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In Kakuma refugee camp in north-western Kenya, girls are empowered by their new-found passion for computer coding.
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Refika Cornoleus, escaped the war in Sudan with her her six children, but had to leave behind her home, her husband and her grandparents. She lives in Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya, where she makes eco-friendly stoves, which are high in demand.
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In some of the world’s largest camps, refugees and the native communities power their own economies. Students compete for admission into a better school, journalists report on daily news, entrepreneurs learn new skills and health workers deliver babies. And women are often a forgotten part of this workforce. Meet five women and girls who are doing the usual and unusual jobs that keep life going, and aspiring for more.
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Fathime Tibu, 26, is the youngest female coach of MTG United, the football league for Moving the Goalposts (MTG), a sport for development organization based in Kilifi, Kenya. She recently spoke to UN Women about her own journey, aspirations, and how sport is a powerful tool to empower girls.
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Dorcas Amakobe is the Executive Director of “Moving the Goalposts”, a sport for development organization based Kilifi, a coastal town in Kenya. As part of a UN Women programme funded by the Government of Japan on enhancing women’s active participation in prevention of violent extremism in Kenya, the organization ran a project that provided livelihood skills training and helped build financial independence of young women engaged in its sport programme to build their resilience.
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Wilma Riziki Kazunguis learned to play football as a teenager. Today she is an entrepreneur and a football coach from Kilifi, Kenya.
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Agnes Leina is an Indigenous woman from northern Kenya. She is the founder and Executive Director of the I’llaramatak Community Concerns (ICC), a resource centre offering livelihood options for women and working with pastoralist communities to recognize the equal value and potential of women and girls to contribute towards their families and communities. Ms. Leina was one of the participants of the 63rd session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women, the UN’s largest annual gathering on women’s rights issues.
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The Violence Against Children report in Kenya (2010) indicated that one in three Kenyan girls has experienced sexual violence before they turn 18. Wangu Kanja, a survivor of sexual violence, started a Foundation to provide much-needed support to survivors of gender-based violence in Kenya.
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In the lead-up to the High-Level Political Forum for sustainable development (9 – 18 July), the main UN process for the review of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a group of experts at a meeting in Nairobi, Kenya, emphasized that planning, investments and management of infrastructure and basic services must take into account women’s use of time and space and address their disproportionate share of unpaid care and domestic work.
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Purity Soinato Oiyie is a Maasai girl from Kenya who escaped Female Genital Mutilation and child marriage. She spoke at the opening session of the 62nd UN Commission on the Status of Women, the UN’s largest gathering on gender equality and women’s rights. In her own words, she shares her story and her dream to start a school for girls in her community.