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UNODC Supports the Reintegration of Girls in Conflict with the Law in Kenya Through Fashion


Nairobi, 27 February 2020  – Clothing designed by 13 Kenyan girls during vocational training in their rehabilitation schools premiered on the runway at the Designing Dreams High-Level Fashion Show at the United Nations in Nairobi on Thursday night.

The fashion parade was the first public milestone of an initiative that seeks to empower adolescent girls in-conflict-with-the-law at the Kirigiti and Dagoretti Rehabilitation Schools in Nairobi County by providing them with life-skills, education, vocational training and psycho-social support.

The partnership involves the Regional Office for Eastern Africa of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC ROEA), the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection through the Department of Children Services, the governments of Spain and Canada, four leading Kenyan fashion designers and a Spanish-based NGO, THRibune.

The event opened with a performance by the Safari Cat Dancers who danced to a mixture of Swahili, African and Country music imposing a modern spin onto traditional dances.

Shortly afterwards, opening remarks were made by UNODC’s Regional Youth Focal Point, Ms. Wambui Khara: “The hashtag, #DesigningDreams, just like its name, is about using fashion design to make dreams come true. It is about creating something from nothing and bringing it to life… this initiative not only focuses on rehabilitation, but also builds the skills of young women in conflict with the law to enable them to reintegrate back into the society”.

"If seeing what these young women have achieved is not impressive enough, I am requesting them to design Friday wear for myself and my staff. Join me in the celebration of the reintegration of these young women, by promoting what they have done so far." added the Permanent Secretary, State Department for Social Protection, Nelson Marwa who promised to support this project.

Participating designers included Mr. Henry Wanjala (Henry Wanjala Clothing), Mr. Larry Luchera (Luchi Designs), Ms. Naomi Ng’ang’a (Stylebyneomi) and Ms. Judith Owino Akinyi (The Native Woman).

They dedicated their time to train the adolescents in fashion design, dress making and entrepreneurship skills.

UNODC ROEA hopes that through this process young women will be able to reintegrate into and contribute to society. Regional Representative, Dr. Amado Philip de Andrés, affirmed that this was only the beginning, with a similar event being held on 6 March in Madrid, Spain, where many of the young women’s designs would be showcased.

In addition, there will be a charity concert on 7 March in Madrid is organized to raise funds to continue the sustainability of the programme, arranged by THRibune.

Other volunteers at the event in Nairobi included Miss Universe, Kenya, Ms. Stacy Michuki and TV presenter Ms. Anita Nderu, who voiced her support for the young women in the process of rehabilitation. The event was well received by all and marks the beginning of a new start for young people who have come in conflict with the law. Mr. Javier Garcia de Viedma Bernaldo de Quiros also spoke at the event quoting the words of Spain’s first female lawyer, Ms. Ascensión Chirivella Marín; ‘Hate crime; love criminals’, reflecting the importance of judicial reformation in order to support a societies’ youth.

Other high-profile figures attended the event, including the Canadian High Commission’s First Secretary, Mr Marcus Davies.

The findings of a 2019 UNODC Needs Assessment for rehabilitation homes, borstal institutions and prisons in Kenya highlighted the challenges of reintegration for young people, especially young women and adolescent girls, whom too often are unable to return to their homes and have no means to sustain themselves.

Last year, with funding from the Government of Canada, UNODC procured four sewing machines, with two put into immediate use at each Rehabilitation School during dressmaking vocational training – the start of a very long road an efficient, fair and just rehabilitation system for young people in Kenya.


For more information visit our Regional Office in Eastern Africa website.