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Partners UNiTE to mentor children during 16 Days of Activism

1 December 2022, Nairobi – Over sixty children from statutory institutions managed by Kenya’s Directorate of Children Services (DCS) added their voices to the Global 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence campaign by calling for an end to violence against women, girls and boys. 

As a result of a Mentorship Day staged by DCS, UNODC and other partners, the children gained a better understanding of crime prevention and of the serious nature of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV).

Held yesterday at Kabete Rehabilitation School, the participating children were from Dagoretti Girls Rehabilitation School, Kirigiti Girls Rehabilitation School, Kabete Boys’ Rehabilitation School, Getathuru Reception and Classification Centre and the Nairobi Children’s Rescue Centre.

Violations of the rights of women, girls and boys have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic in many countries. The rising cost of living, prolonged drought and associated hunger have also contributed to an increase in SGBV – as well as violence against children – alongside mental illness, teenage pregnancies and child marriage. Consequently, the Government of Kenya has called for more partnerships to support their responses.

The children led a tree planting session themed promoting climate justice to reduce the risk of violence against women and children.

In this context, the mentorship day brought together the following partners: DCS, UNODC, University of Nairobi (UON) Student Leadership and the Women Students Welfare Association (WOSWA), Trust for Indigenous Culture and Health (TICAH) and Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) Foundation. 

“UNODC was pleased to be part of this event to raise awareness and extend support, through the provision of essential items to children at statutory institutions. This was a welcome opportunity to appreciate the milestones the children have achieved in their rehabilitation while establishing peer-to-peer mentorships as well as guidance and counselling,” UNODC PLEAD Project Manager, Ms. Asmert Tesfai, said. 

Alongside the essential items support provided by UNODC, sanitary towels were donated by TICAH, and children also received exercise books and pens from UoN.

This was carried out within the framework of two development projects co-implemented by UNODC: the Preventing Violent Extremism project through rehabilitation, vocational training and social reintegration for children in Statutory Institutions in Kenya’ with support from the Government of Canada; and the Programme for Legal Empowerment and Aid Delivery in Kenya (PLEAD) with support from the European Union. 

The advocacy objectives for 2022 include mobilising people to engage in activism to prevent violence against women and girls (VAWG) and engaging people to be activists in preventing VAWG through taking a stand publicly, wearing the colour orange and engaging in activities to raise awareness of VAWG in their local communities.

“Violence does not respect age, sex, gender, race, education or occupation. We have a responsibility as children and adults to hold hands and advocate against it throughout our lives.” the Principal Children Officer at DCS Kenya, Mr Stanley Rotich, said.

At the event, UNODC partnered with university students who offered peer mentorship to the children and organized fun learning activities for the mentorship day. Guided by UNODC and DCS, the peer-to-peer mentorship relations will form long-term structures of engagement for counselling and mentorship among the children and university students.

Mentorship conversations were held to provide guidance in personal development; prevention of violence against women, girls and children; and employability skills training with an emphasis on leadership, breakaway sessions for peer-to-peer mentorship conducted by (WOSWA/UoN) to improve self-esteem and confidence among the children.

The children wore orange t-shirts which represented a brighter future, free from violence against women and children. 

The event also included tree planting sessions and ‘edutainment’ performances by the children to foster their imagination and focus on the theme of preventing violence against women and children. 

“In the spirit of partnership, the KCB Foundation is looking forward to working with DCS in conjunction with UNODC in supporting children in rehabilitation and well as those who have reformed. This shall be done through the education pillar which is one of the thematic areas that the foundation focuses on as part of the bank’s corporate social responsibility,” said the head of KCB foundation, Ms. Caroline Kihara. 

Through the PLEAD partnership, UNODC has partnered with NCAJ in strengthening a multi-agency approach in investigation, prosecution and rehabilitation of perpetrators of crime including SGBV and violators of human rights as well as providing support to the victims of crime. Through the National Council on the Administration of Justice, UNODC has also advocated for the need to undertake expeditious disposal of justice in the best interest of vulnerable groups e.g., women, children and youth through improved reporting, investigations, evidence handling and witness management.

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About the 16 Days of Activism

The Global 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence is an international campaign that begins on 25 November – the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women – and ends on 10 December – Human Rights Day – indicating that violence against women is the most pervasive breach of human rights worldwide. It provides a platform advocate for the prevention and elimination of violence against women and girls.

The UN Secretary-General’s UNiTE by 2030 to End Violence against Women initiative (UNiTE), calls for global action to increase awareness, galvanize advocacy efforts and share knowledge and innovations to end VAWG once and for all. UNiTE calls on governments, development actors, civil society, women’s organisations, young people, private sector, the media and the UN system to join forces in addressing violence against women and girls.