KENYA MENENGAGE ALLIANCE
Kenya has a land area of 580,000 km2. As of 2011, Kenya was projected to have a total population of 41,070,943, representing 42 different peoples and cultures. This estimate explicitly takes into account the effects of mortality due to AIDS, which can result in lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality, lower population and growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected.
Kenya’s services sector, which contributes about 63 percent of GDP, is dominated by tourism.
WHO IS ACTIVE IN THE COUNTRY?
The current chair of the in-country network is Kenya MenEngage Alliance (KEMEA). KEMEA is a national network of non-governmental organizations, relevant government institutions, and community based organizations involved in research, interventions and social mobilization initiatives that engage boys and men in effective ways to reduce gender inequalities and promote the health of women, men and children. The network was established in 2006 following an international conference in Dares Salaam organized by the Men Engage Global Alliance.
What do they do?
KEMEA Network views gender equality as integral to its operations and for the creation of nonviolent and gender-just societies in Kenya. The network uses a rights-based approach due to the all-pervasive systemic gender discrimination and gender inequality.
The network membership includes community-based organizations, institutions, government departments and individuals working with boys and men in HIV and AIDS, Positive fatherhood, Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), Gender based violence (GBV) and sexual reproductive health rights (SRHR). The network has an established secretariat and a steering committee where the latter is responsible for the management of the network. The steering committee membership is drawn from the following organizations.
- Margaret Wanzuu Foundation
- National Organization of Peer Educators(NOPE)
- Movement of Men against AIDS in Kenya (MMAAK)
- Royal Media Services(RMS)
- Elizabeth Glasier Peadiatric Aids Foundation(EGPAF)
- Victorious Fatherhood Champions(VFC)
- Young Girls Empowerment Faith based Organization
- Swift Savers Faith based Organization(SS-FBO)
- ISHTAR Community Based Organization
- NYADEYO Community based organization
Some key achievements:
- Establishment of a functional National Steering Committee
- Developed a Terms of Reference for the Steering Committee
- Orientation of journalists from the main media houses in Kenya on Gender and Prevention of GBV and HIV
- Regular training workshops with men and boys for the promotion of gender equality and positive fatherhood, the prevention and mitigation of HIV and AIDS
- Developed a national strategic plan to engage men and boys for gender equality
- Holding of consultative meetings with various key partners such as the National Commission for Gender and Development & Relevant line ministries
- Hosted the Women Health and Empowerment-WHE-MATI-Training in 2015
- Participated in the development of the National Framework Towards Response and Prevention of GBV in Kenya (2009)
- Working with the National AIDS Control Council to develop the Draft National HIV and AIDS Male Engagement Guidelines.
HIV crisis among the youth in Kenya
In the face of HIV, it’s important to “tell the youth that it is okay to delay sexual activity, it’s also important to involve young people when developing HIV programmes for them, and if the youth get friendlier health workers at health facilities, they are more likely to open up about the problems they face.”
Kenya hosts regional parliamentary meeting on FGM/C
Kenya recently played host to a regional parliamentary conference on female genital mutilation or cutting (FGM/C), under the theme ‘’Value of learning together – Youth, Elders, Government, Women and Legislators as custodians of positive culture for girls and women’’.
The participants were drawn from members of the four regional parliaments that have committed to the Obligation to Protect (O2P) framework – a programme financed by the government of the Netherlands to support a range of efforts aimed at rooting out FGM/C in Ethiopia, Egypt, Sudan and Kenya.
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Women’s empowerment a path to men’s sense of fulfilment
In Kenya, many widows experience economic hardship. They are compelled to send their children to work instead of sending them to school. Some feel so trapped they resort to prostitution to earn money and are sometimes infected with STDs. Employment opportunities are scant, both because of their limited mobility and the discriminatory gender division of labor. In response to their bleak prospects, I initiated a women’s empowerment program through the Rhodelias Foundation, in connection with my role as program officer of Kenya MenEngage Alliance (KEMEA). My wife Rhoda and I started the foundation to support less advantaged people, especially widows and orphans, through economic empowerment and education.
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KEMEA member involved in workplace HIV testing
Founding member of Kenya MenEngage Alliance (KEMEA), Movement of Men Against AIDS in Kenya (MMAAK) and several partner organisations delivered Voluntary Counselling and Testing (VCT) services to United Nations (UN) staff, UN agencies staff and key populations most at risk of contracting HIV in the districts of Mombasa and Dadaab, respectively, over a period of five days – 28th November to 2nd December – during last year’s 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children campaign.
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Widows empowered through chicken rearing
Women’s empowerment is crucial to development in any society. To contribute to this objective, the Rhodelias Foundation and Bemidji State University have partnered with the Foundation’s patron, Elias Muindi, who serves as Programme Officer for Kenya MenEngage Alliance (KEMEA) this year in June to start a project to train and encourage a group of widows in the rural village of Mbuinzau, in Makueni County, to rear chickens.
“Bearing in mind that widows experience many challenges in society, this project is aimed at empowering them economically and socially”, says Muindi.
“When I visit widows and speak with them about their lives, they tell me about the daily struggle to give their children a chance at a better life than they had. And a lot of times, one of the most powerful weapons in that struggle is a small flock of chickens’’, he adds.
The reasons advanced by the widows for keeping chickens are that they are easy and inexpensive to take care of. The partnership between Rhodelias Foundation, Bemidji State University and Muindi capitalised on this already existing effort to start an empowerment initiative in the hope that it will result in the economic empowerment of the women.
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Over 160 young people aged between 12 and 25 years took part in sports-driven awareness activities, in Nairobi, Kenya, earlier this month, on the 2nd of May, to discuss issues that many youths are grappling with – sexuality, HIV and AIDS, relationships, marriage and gender-based violence as well as the challenges that accompany these. The event was organised by Kenya MenEngage Alliance – KEMEA and the Pentecostal Evangelical Fellowship of Africa (PEFA) Churches of Kenya.
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Through a seed grant he won during the 2015 Women’s Health, Masculinities and Empowerment training programme offered by the MenEngage Africa Training Institute (MATI), Elias Muindi, Programme Officer for Kenya MenEngage Alliance (KEMEA), collaborated with Pentecostal Evangelical Fellowship of Africa church and the Kenya Network of Religious Leaders Living with HIV and AIDS (KENERELA) to sensitise religious leaders on the prevention of domestic violence, women’s empowerment and male involvement in issues of gender transformation.
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Ensuring menstruation does not prevent girls from attending school
In February, the Kenya MenEngage Alliance – KEMEA, its founding member, the Margaret Wanzuu Foundation and another member of the alliance, YoungGirlsEmpowerment Faith-Based Organization (YGE-FBO), formed a partnership to provide sanitary towels and underwear to needy school girls in the slum areas of Mukuru, in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi.
Dubbed “Keeping slum girls in school – Ending the period of shame’’ the program aims to benefit 3 600 slum girls annually.
For many years, destitute school-going girls in the targeted areas have suffered the indignity of lacking sanitary towels during their monthly periods. Interviews collected in several schools in Nairobi’s slums have revealed that girls with no access to sanitary pads often resort to substandard and unhygienic methods to contain the leak of menstrual blood, while others do not use anything at all.
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Race to support maternal and children’s health
Kenya MenEngage Alliance – KEMEA Programme officer Wycliffe Elias Muindi joined the First Lady of Kenya, Margaret Kenyatta in a marathon to create awareness of, and to raise funds for, maternal and children’s health. The marathon, with the theme “Run with the First Lady to save the lives of women and children”, was held on the 6th of March 2016 and it attracted over 2 000 participants, including several dignitaries such as Rwanda’s First Lady, Jeanette Kagame, who ran alongside her Kenyan counterpart, Mrs Kenyatta.
The marathon was part of the “Beyond Zero Campaign” which the Kenyan First Lady launched in January in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi. The initiative aims to accelerate the implementation of the national plan towards the elimination of new HIV infections among children.
“I am deeply saddened by the fact that women and children in our country die from causes that can be avoided. It doesn’t have to be this way,” said Mrs Kenyatta. “This is why I am launching the ‘Beyond Zero Campaign’, which will bring prenatal and postnatal medical treatment to women and children in our country.”
According to the Commission on Information and Accountability for Women and Children’s Health 2013 Update Report, in 2012 alone, more than 100 000 children died before their fifth birthday – largely due to preventable causes. In the same year, 13 000 new HIV infections occurred among children and 62% of children living with HIV did not access life-saving antiretroviral drugs.
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