We run several programs
Girls Education Equity project ( Daadab and Kakuma refugee camps)
Overall project goal
To promote girls primary school enrolment and retention in Daadab and Kakuma refugee camps by engaging men, boys and communities toward addressing the complex socio-cultural barriers that continue to impede girl’s education and partnering with others to provide the basic incentives to girls so as to foster girls retention in school.
Population composition of the Camp
Uganda, Ethiopia, DRC Congo, Rwanda, Burundi, Southern Sudan, Somalia,
60,000 girls in 17 primary schools
The project uses grass root and interactive skills to foster public discourse and engagement around the promotion of girl’s education and the girl’s subsequent retention in school.
Girls in Daadab and Kakuma refugee camps are repressed by diverse attributes of male dominance, controlled by traditional perceptions of a woman, and abused by the time-honoured customs of their diverse communities. The prejudice against girls in refugee settings is not about race or ethnicity, but rather about gender and sexuality. Many of these girls have witnessed horrific scenes characterised by rape, violence, abandonment, starvation, hate and the list is endless. Girls face well-documented economic, socio-cultural, biological and protection barriers that make it more difficult for them - as girls - to access quality education. Demands on their time, conceptions of their gendered roles in the family and community, and biological factors related to their reproductive health are all obstacles to their access to quality education.
Our sexual violence program
To increase knowledge and understanding around sexual violence prevention, manifestation and survivor support by targeting and working with men, boys and communities in Kenya and the East Africa region as a whole
Justification and relevance
The frequency of sexual violence in Kenya and the region currently presents a scary public health challenge. In addition to the immediate physical injury and psychological trauma, rape survivors often suffer long-term consequences such as depression, post-traumatic stress disorders, and gynecological disorders, and are at risk of unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including HIV. The impact of sexual violence reverberates in all areas of health and social programming thus survivors of sexual violence experience increased rates of morbidity and mortality, and violence has been shown to exacerbate HIV transmission, among other health conditions (IGWG of USAID, 2012). Efforts to aim, address and reduce the drivers of sexual violence within communities and principally among men and boys remain dismal .
Our work with men and boys in eradicating Gender/Sexual violence in Kenya
Violence against women and girls in Kenya as it is in other parts of the world is an aftermath of profound social systems that advance and proliferate it. Attitudes that generate traditions of terror and encourage the use of violence as enshrined in patriarchy, negative masculinity and the entire negative socialization process remain ever present. Brutal expressions of masculinity by men and boys remain widespread with a 2010 Coexist report revealing that violence against women affects one in three women in Kenya. The Coexist Initiative is therefore premised on the fact that Gender based violence is a manifestation of unequal relations between women and men with roots in deeply entrenched social, economic and political informal conventions based on perceived men and boys “privilege” at the expense of girls and women’s vulnerability. Our work at Coexist is anchored on the fact that men and boys remain the main perpetrators of violence against women; therefore the fundamental role of men and boys in fostering gender parity cannot be over emphasized yet largely ignored.
Female Genital Mutilation
The immediate and long-term effects of the Female Genital Mutilation ritual perpetrated on girls are well before puberty and yet they have devastating consequences to their health and well being to an extent that they all but destroy the quality of life.
Female genital mutilation is often times performed by women on other women and young girls yet the men who are the driving force and proponents of the vice are far removed from the act itself. For us at the Coexist Initiative, female genital mutilation is part of a continuum of female body and sexuality control.
It’s a practice carried out by women for the benefit of men and for the validation of the invisible hand of patriarchy. The privileging of males that go with patriarchal systems make female genital mutilation a requirement for women’s survival not a choice and this we resolutely refuse. The practice of female genital mutilation has been marginalized as a cultural issue yet it remains one of the
worst violations of human rights for women and girls among communities that still practice it.
Child marriage is shaped by customs, religion and poverty and exacerbated by ethno-religious dilemmas, perennial conflicts and environmental disasters. Girls are denied the right to education, made to toil in domestic servitude and live in physical seclusion in their husbands’ marital homes. Child brides everywhere in Eastern Africa are disempowered, susceptible and oppressed. Girl brides have less access to educational, family planning and obstetric care services, reside in poorer and rural areas, are victims of physical or sexual violence, have their right to free movement restricted, and are denied access to health and social services.
In Kenya, as it is in other parts of the developing world, girls are being forced to lose their childhoods for a life that is defined by isolation, violence and illness because of several key factors. They include poverty, lack of education and job opportunities, insecurity in the face of war and conflict, and the force of archaic customs and traditions that devalue women and girls and discriminate against them.
Child marriage is a gross violation of human rights and a barrier to girls’ health and social well-being. It severely impedes Kenya’s development efforts including undermining initiatives to raise girls’ education, to reduce maternal mortality, and to increase employment and enterprise levels. Child marriage is an affront to all development efforts as defined by the elusive millennium development Goals and Kenya’s own Vision 2030.
In our view, child marriage is an outcome of the official tolerance of insidious cultural, societal and customary norms that shape and govern the institution of marriage and family life. Child marriage is culturally packaged as a social necessity, but in many cases it amounts to socially licensed sexual abuse and exploitation of the girl child.