Showing posts from 2015

Huffington Post: The Tyranny of Violence Against Women and Girls: 16 Days of Activism

According to the 2014 Kenya Demographic and Health Survey of Kenya, 4 out of every 10 Kenyan women undergo some form of violence, whether physical or sexual. This figure is staggering and should compel us to pause and reflect. This year's  16 Days of Activism  Against Gender Violence once again gives us a chance to contemplate a phenomenon that may be as insidious as a woman getting thrown down the stairs by her husband within the home to the horrors that take place in conflict zones when soldiers/militias run amok and go on a savage raping spree. The Pope said that violence against women needs to be dealt with. He said at a Mass at the University of Nairobi on Thursday, 26 Nov 2015 that, "In obedience to God's word, we are called to resist practices which hurt or demean women and threaten the life of the unborn." This year's theme - 'From Peace in the Home to Peace in the World' - focuses on a factor that has not been spoken about loudly enoug

Reuters: From Despair to Hope: Fulfilling a Promise to Mothers and Children in Mandera County

The First Lady of Kenya Ms Margaret Kenyatta accompanied by the Governor of Mandera County Mr Ali Roba & UNFPA's Executive Director Dr Babatunde Osotimehin at the Beyond Zero event in Mandera. 06 Nov 2015. Mandera/PC: @undpkenya Mandera in north-eastern Kenya, has often been described as ‘the worst place on earth to give birth’. Mandera’s maternal mortality ratio stands at 3,795 deaths per 100,000 live births, almost double that of wartime Sierra Leone at 2,000 deaths per 100,000 live births. But Mandera also demonstrates what can be achieved with strong political leadership and strategic partnerships.  Just under a year ago, on Dec. 2 2014, we were part of a team from the United Nations, World Bank, charities and the Office of the President of Kenya that undertook the two-hour flight to Mandera, to determine what could be done to address this critical development bottleneck. Minutes before take-off, news came through that 36 Kenyans had been brutally murdered in  Ma

Reuters: Kenya-Transforming Mandera County’s Deadly Reputation For Maternal Health

Photo Credit; @islamicrelief For many women in Mandera County a hard to reach, insecure and arid part of North Eastern Kenya, the story of life from childhood to adulthood is one about sheer pain and struggle for survival. As little girls, they undergo female genital mutilation (FGM), a painful carving out of the external genitalia that leaves them with lifelong physical and psychological scars.  Most girls will be married off when barely into their teens, forcing them to drop out of school, their immature bodies thrust into the world of childbearing. As a result, Mandera – just a two-hour flight from the dynamic, modern East African hub of Nairobi – has maternal mortality ratio of 3,795 deaths per 100,000 live births that surpasses that of wartime Sierra Leon (2000 deaths per 100,000 live births) as well as the Kenya’s national average (448 deaths per 100,000 live births). My take:

Reuters: Kenya Cannot Rise If Its Women Are Left Behind

Consider this. A young girl called Amina Mohamed who is the 8th of 9 children, from a modest Muslim home in Kakamega County in Kenya was encouraged by her parents to complete her education and pursue her dreams.   Amina Mohamed is Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs and Trade, the first woman to Chair the World Trade Organization and is credited for enhancing  Kenya’s global image .    Through sheer grit, determination and a passion for the impossible, Amina a woman from ordinary circumstances went on to doing extraordinary things. Amina showed that women must persist in breaking down gender stereotypes and other barriers obstructing them from reaching their full potential.   My take:

Reuters: Ending Maternal and Child Deaths in Kenya-The Private Sector Can Help

Fostering public-private sector partnerships will help fill the gaps in capacity, resources, knowledge and innovation to reduce the greatest mortality risks faced by women today. It will also set a new standard for how companies and UN/NGOs can work together towards a shared goal. The UNFPA Executive Director Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin  stated tha t: “We are not looking to private sector organizations that will do corporate social responsibility; we are looking to private sector organizations that actually would incorporate these issues in their own DNA.” My take;

The Star: Will Kenya End Female Genital Mutilation?

Every year, Female Genital Mutilation scars thousands of young women and girls in Kenya physically and emotionally, for life. As President Barack Obama said during his recent visit to Kenya: “There’s no reason why young girls should suffer genital mutilation…” This tradition has “no place in the 21st century”. The practice consists of cutting away part of the external female sexual organs, often without anesthesia. Complications include loss of sensation, recurrent infections and pain, cysts, infertility, pregnancy complications and even death. It has no known health benefits. My take:

Huffington Post: With Kenya's Youth, The Future Is Here: Invest to Reap Demographic Benefits

Kenya, is at the cusp of a " demographic dividend ," which could transmute Kenya's fortunes in the first half of the 21st century -- but only if the country takes the right steps towards investing in the current youthful population. My take:

Huffington Post: Countering Violent Extremism -- Put Youth at the Center of the Narrative

So what needs to be done to counter the specter of violent extremism? Under the Government's leadership, all development partners including the private sector should collaborate to ensure a holistic, well integrated, multi-year programs that creates an enabling environment in which young people can develop, advance and achieve their full human potential. In order to do that, it will be useful to: Understand the relationship between youth and violent extremism within a broader context of their relationship to peace and security; Build an evidence base for action on youth engagement in violent extremism and challenge misinformation/myths; Focus on countering/preventing youth engagement in violent extremism without ignoring/neglecting the role of "non-youth"; Develop strategies after thorough and insightful analyses of the political, religious, cultural, social and economic factors that drive youth to violent extremism. Let's put youth at the center of the

Reuters: Sexual Violence in South Sudan-A Tactic of War

Rebecca’s story is, sadly not uncommon, but is characteristic of the “new normal” where the tyranny of sexual violence is used as a weapon of war in many conflicts. It is being used for political ends, for ethnic cleansing and to sow terror and cause panic amongst civilians. It is destroying lives, fuelling the conflict, creating more refugees and internally displaced people (IDPs). In South Sudan this may be jeopardizing any hope for a ceasefire as well as undermining the long-term prospects for reconciliation. My take:

Reuters: From Sweden, India to Kenya, men must take a stand to protect women: #HeForShe

Every day women all over the world pay a price for unequal power relations between women and men. Whether it is a woman being stripped on a street in Nairobi for being “indecently” dressed, an Indian student gang-raped in a bus, a Swedish girl beaten unconscious by her boyfriend or a female manager passed over for promotion they all represent the ultimate consequences of societal attitudes put in place to hold women down. The end result? Through various types of control and intimidation half of humanity is stopped from enjoying their human rights. My take.

Reuters: Let’s ‘Make It Happen’: No Woman Should Die Giving Life

 As we commemorated International Women’s Day on 08 March 2015, it is crucial to take stock of progress and outstanding challenges that confront women and girls and rededicate ourselves to making a difference in their lives. The theme of 2015 International Women’s Day, ‘Make It Happen’, resonates strongly in Kenya where unusually high levels of maternal deaths have given Kenya the dubious distinction of being one of the most dangerous countries in which to give birth. Over 6,000 Kenyan women die each year in childbirth. My opinion piece co-authored with Ms Ruth Kagia:

Reuters: Advancing Adolescent Health and Rights: Kenya Can Lead the Way

When Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta presided over the launch of the  Global All In! Campaign  on February 17, aimed at pushing ahead efforts to reduce HIV/AIDS among adolescents, he warned that  at a time when nations are looking forward to unprecedented growth and change, with young, able people to drive developments, “the HIV and AIDS burden on this group threatens to rob us of this promise.” The worldwide drive by U.N. agencies, civil society groups and donors aims to reduce new HIV infections among adolescents by at least 75% and increase HIV treatment to reach at least 80% of adolescents living with the virus. Here is my opinion piece:

OP-ED: National Strategy To Finally Eliminate FGM In Kenya

I was honored to co-author with  British High Commissioner to Kenya, Dr Christian Turner this opinion piece to mark Zero Tolerance Day to rnf Female Genital Mutilation in Kenya. On December 12, 2014, hundreds of young Samburu girls held a march in Maralal to protest against Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). Meanwhile, just a few kilometers away, a delegation of elders from Samburu came together to voice their total opposition to any efforts to end FGM in their community. Unfortunately, this remains a common refrain. Within many ethnic groups in Kenya, as elsewhere, FGM is a practice deeply embedded in traditional and cultural norms.  Here is the link.