Kenya elections: Women are afraid. I am afraid

Jane Anyango | Aug 14, 2017
Two women hold hands in Kenya

Womankind received this message sent by Jane Anyango, a grassroots women's leader and founder of the Polycom Development Project, working to end sexual harassment in Kibera, the largest informal settlement (slum) in Nairobi. Jane works with our new partner, the African Women's Development and Communication Network (FEMNET).

Jane's update helps to paint a picture of what the recent Kenya elections really means to the day to day lives of women, a story that hasn't made the headlines during the election media coverage. We have adjusted the message to protect the people concerned.

"Most Kenyans are very worried right now, not knowing what will happen next.

I just want to share with you our current situation in Kibera. It is day four of waiting, which is too much for women who live from hand to mouth. Our shops are still all closed and no groceries or other daily essential items can be accessed. It is already very tough for women here. In the community, people don't "shop" because we have no storage and in many situations not enough money to buy anything extra. Due to the anxiety and fear in the country, women cannot leave to go do their daily duties to earn money. We are in crisis.

I know many people are only focusing on violence, which according to them is still mild. The police are everywhere around here; yesterday they were dispersing the youth who were assembling, there were shootings but no one was injured. They used teargas as if there were no people in the area, it affects me right inside my house. My eyes are so itchy. I am very afraid and worried, for myself, my children, my chicken and for women and children around here, especially those with small children.

Today, four girls and one woman came to my house, not even my office, they want sanitary pads, You know periods cannot wait and the shops are closed, this is another crisis. Things are just getting worse and the things people out there look for to understand that there is crisis is outdoor open violence. What will happen to us when it gets to that?

I was informed of a robbery in my office while I was at the Women Peacemakers meeting; they broke into my office and stole all the electronics. I am yet to repair the door because the police have not yet come even though I reported the matter at the police station the same day. My drawers were broken into, four laptops and two cameras were taken away, it is so worrying, really frightening.

Yesterday, a woman was found with ballot books and voting machines in her house. She is disabled and she has been an agent to a governor. They were arguing about payment with the people who had come to pick up the items when neighbours overheard and raided her house. They demolished her house, beat her up and presented her and her two sons to the police station.

We always get water from Thursdays to Saturdays, but yesterday we never got water. For those who have not enough storage, its another crisis; we cannot walk far to look for water as usual when we are in such a situation, because we are afraid.

Sorry this update isn't too long but I just wanted to send this before our power is switched off. I am trying to imagine what is going to happen. It's hard when I don't know what to do, especially as a leader who everyone is looking up to for guidance.

It's tough out here, it is tough."

You can read more about the Kenya elections here, and find out more about Jane's work with the Polycom Development Project here.

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