from MARIA MACHARIA in Nairobi, Kenya
NAIROBI, (CAJ News) – A CAMPAIGN has been launched to curb online abuse, harassment and physical violence against female politicians ahead of elections in Kenya.
The Kenya Women Parliamentary Association (KEPOWA) has launched the video campaign, dubbed #HeshimuDada.
It is an initiative of KEPOWA and Google Kenya, among other partners.
Prominent politicians have endorsed the initiative, whose short video is available on the KeWoPa YouTube channel.
These include Prof. Margaret Kobia, the Cabinet Secretary for Public Service, Gender, Senior Citizen Affairs and Special Programmes.
Rachel Ruto, the spouse of Deputy President William Ruto has also endorsed it.
Other featuring in the campaign are Anne Waiguru, who is Governor of Kirinyaga County, and Gathoni Wamuchomba, the women representative of Kiambu County and Chairperson of KEPOWA.
Martha Karua, the National Rainbow Coalition–Kenya (NARC–Kenya) Leader and the Azimio Coalition’s Deputy President nominee, also features.
In their messages, the leaders call on the public and political contenders to be tolerant and accommodative towards each other in the political stage, regardless of gender, religion, tribal affiliation or any other perceived differences.
Wamuchomba emphasised the important role technology can play to empower people who are likely to be victims, hereby helping to prevent online abuse and harassment and even violence against women online.
KEWOPA has been mobilising its members, partners and resources to build the capacity and resilience of its members and to inspire up-and-coming women leaders to deal with these challenges ahead of the general election on August 9.
“The climax of these efforts is a video campaign under the hashtag #HeshimuDada – respect women – that KEWOPA is releasing today featuring leading women in a rallying call for peace and a cessation of violence in all its forms, including violence against women in politics,” she stated.
She noted the gender gap continued to disadvantage girls and women.
The gender gap index score in Kenya rising to 0,69 in 2021, indicating that females were 30 percent less likely to have the same opportunities as males in the country.
“Violence against women is a serious problem and women in the public limelight are disproportionately targeted,” Wamuchomba stated.
She said during the 2017 elections, female candidates were many times more likely to be the victims of online and offline abuse than their male counterparts.
“Even in this campaign season, we have witnessed acts of violence against women in politics,” Wamuchomba stated.
According to United Nations Women, when women and girls have access to the internet, they face online violence more often than men through a continuum of multiple, recurring, and interrelated forms of gender-based threats.
KEWOPA is a membership association of all women parliamentarians drawn from across all political parties both elected and nominated in the Kenya’s Senate and National Assembly.
– CAJ News