Wednesday, 1 August 2012

What needs to be done to achieve Millenium Development Goals

Members of a Maasai community with sponsors work .File Picture

By Morara Kebaso

An international conference on Gender Based Violence (GBV) has been told that achievement of the Millennium Development Goals can only be realized if the vice is eliminated.

Speaking at Kenyatta University in Nairobi Kenya on Wednesday, August 01 where a three-day conference is going on the country`s Gender Minister, Dr. Naomi Shaban linked any achievements of the MDGs and the country’s Economic blue print, Vision 2030 to zero Gender Based violence (GBV).

The minister stressed that participation of all Kenyans in eliminating
GBV from any quarters in the country; is an imperative that determines
achievement of real national growth.

“Violence against women is like cancer that causes great ill-health
than traffic accidents and malaria put together. It deters development
as well,” said Shaban during the official opening of the ongoing
International Gender Based Violence Conference. She at the same time
acknowledged that GBV is a major factor that contributes to poverty.

The Gender minister further said that, violence against women had an
intergenerational impact; where boys and girls learn; and reproduce
largely in accordance with the gender-roles demonstrated by their

“Indeed, men who witness and experience violence as children are more
likely to use violence against their own spouses or children. By the
same token, women who witness and experience abuse as children are
more likely to become victims in their adult life,” she added.
The minister - who has been in the forefront advocating against Female
Genital Mutilation (FGM) – said; women who have undergone the cut; are
also more likely to champion; or allow it to happen to their female

She attributed customs and cultures as some of the avenues that have
always been used to justify forms of GBV. And according to Shaban; “a
lot of societal demands are placed on the men and creates a way in
which violence against men is perpetuated and also transforms them
into perpetrators.”

Other speakers at the forum including; KU Vice Chancellor, Prof. Olive
Mugenda; Liverpool VCT Director, Nduku Kilonzo, and students;
advocated for more awareness and sensitization forums on the negative
attributes of GBV.

The three day conference whose theme is: Creating safe Spaces: A
multi-disciplinary Approach to Gender Based Violence, brings together
more than 200 delegates among them; academicians, researchers, and
services providers from across 14 countries in the world. They are
exploring methods of dealing with culture; masculinity, religion,
politics as some of the notable platforms that help to perpetuate

At the end of the conference; the delegates are expected to come up
with tangible strategies in the areas of research that would inform
policy and practice.

“This conference would not have come at the right time than now. It
aims at identifying gaps and solutions to inform research, policy and
practice,” said Prof. Mugenda.

She mentioned Intimate partner violence that still remains a challenge
to research, because of the privacy in which it occurs.
On her part, Kilonzo said that owing to the social and economic cost
of GBV; Kenya should acknowledge the issue as a national disaster and
give it the attention it deserves.

“Without addressing these issues for the purposes of the survivors and
victims, then development will be a pipe dream,” she said.

She urged all players in government- health, justice, finance to work
together with the civil society for the sake of the country’s
development, noting; “as long as we continue to invest in the
prevention of HIV and forget the prevention of GBV, then we might not
win the fight against the scourge.”

After the post election violence; women and men were affected
differently, yet it raised critical issues in terms of the responses
that need to be given in emergency cases. The scope, in which violence
against men and women has been widened to include private spaces,
continues to worry.

Participants at the conference noted that although Kenya has a good
legislation; implementation is critical.

“Adequate resources, poverty and unemployment, a limited access to
health care services, insufficient access to justice system and lack
of information often denies survivors the justice that is needed,”
said Prof. Mugenda.

Delegates also acknowledged that; a multi pronged approach will be
required to eliminate the vice.

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