Upholding girl child’s dignity

Plan International Kenya, a child rights organisation, has partnered with Inua Dada Foundation, a community that upholds the dignity and protects the girl child in a bid to supplement Government’s efforts in creating safe spaces for women and girls vulnerable to sexual, economic and physical violence during the Covid-19 crisis. 

The collaboration saw over 200 young mothers in Kibra benefit from care packs that included sanitary towels, diapers, flour, cooking oil, lifebuoy, face masks and toilet papers.

According to Nancy Okoth, Plan International’s girls advocacy alliance project manager, perpetrators of gender based violence are likely to use the current stay-at-home restrictions to physically abuse their partners. 

“Children are also subjected to violence and exploitation. Also, most cases of sexual abuse are committed by close relatives. We are here to provide psychosocial support and ensure that young mothers and women acquire access to free sanitary care packages and safe bathroom amenities,” she says.

Ms Okoth added that the ongoing COVID-19 response initiative in slum and vulnerable rural areas is aimed at providing socio-economic empowerment to those with less or no resources to meet family needs during this period when jobs are scarcer. Living in “lockdown” is strenuous for most households, and this may lead to cases of prostitution and early marriages. To provide the much needed support, Plan International is fitting water tanks and handwashing facilities across various points in Kibra, where young mothers will earn daily stipends from manning water points to assist them to fend for their children.

Cases of gender-based violence in various households have increased following government’s directives to restrict freedom of movement to curb the rising spread of Coronavirus. The country’s data indicates that 45% of women and 44% of men of ages 15 to 49 have experienced physical violence while 14% of Kenyan women aged between 15 and 49 have experienced sexual violence.

Inua Dada founder Janet Mbugua, speaking during a handover of care packages to Plan International’s Girls Advocacy Alliance project manager Nancy Okoth at the Inua Dada Foundation offices in Kibra said that menstrual hygiene is vital to all women and adolescent girls in accessing sexual and reproductive health services. At the same time, she said that it is important for well wishers to offer social-economic support to disadvantaged households who do not have any other means of survival especially with the Coronavirus isolation.

“We are offering these care packages to the vulnerable women and girls in the slum areas. Girls usually receive free sanitary towels in most government schools. But with the schools closed due to Covid-19 pandemic, we are stepping in to support them,” said Ms Mbugua.

The media personality added that the girl child has a right to protection from various forms of exploitation in such a time when they are vulnerable as their parents and caregivers struggle for means of survival. 

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