Focus country: Kenya

Maasai women from Kenya join together against FGM

Discrimination and violence against women are common in Kenya.

Men tend to hold positions of power, with many believing that women are incapable of leadership. The few national and local female leaders in the country are often isolated and unable to fully take part in decision-making. This means Kenyan women’s needs and concerns go unheard.

Domestic violence, rape and harmful traditional practices like female genital mutilation and early marriage are widespread.

  • More than a third of women have experienced physical violence from a partner, while 17 per cent have experienced sexual violence (UN Women 2011-2012).
  • Complications during pregnancy and childbirth are the leading cause of death among 15- to 19-year-old girls in Kenya many due to harmful traditional practices such as female genital mutilation.
  • Women continue to hold just 18 per cent of seats in the Kenyan parliament and only 5.8% of seats at county level.

Even though the Constitution of Kenya 2010 has improved women’s rights, many still have limited access to justice and are unaware of their rights and legal position. Today, Kenya is in the midst of transitioning to a new system of governance. Devolution, or the shifting of certain powers and resources from the national to the county level, creates opportunities for women in leadership, but female leaders need support and skills to be able to participate effectively.

Strengthening the women's movement

Kenya is a Womankind focus country, where we are currently working with the Federation of Women Lawyers – Kenya (FIDA Kenya) on a long-term project to strengthen community response to violence against women and girls and eliminate harmful traditional practices such as female genital mutilation and child, early and forced marriage.

Going forward, we will work with partners and allies to support and strengthen the women's movement through existing and new partnerships. We will explore Kenya's Herstory and the role of transformational leadership to contribute to a strong and effective women’s movement.

As part of our approach to support movement building, we will also support young feminist activists working on issues such as sexuality and disability inclusion by creating safe spaces for convening and collective action. We will do so in solidarity and partnership with a range of women’s rights organisations at national level as well as with FEMNET, the African Women’s Development and Communication Network, a pan-African feminist movement.

Improving access to justice for women survivors of violence

The Constitution of Kenya 2010 protects women’s rights and addresses gender issues in the family, and at community and national levels.

However discrimination and violence against women are still widespread because of lack of knowledge on these rights and strong beliefs about the traditional role of women. Survivors of violence often lack the legal, psychological and medical services they need to rebuild their lives.

We are working with our partner FIDA Kenya to:

  • Increase community awareness through community education forums where women can learn about claiming their constitutional and legal rights and survivors of violence can get support
  • Provide training to women survivors on their rights and harmful traditional practices so they can reach even more women with information on their rights and how to protect themselves from violence
  • Partner with schools and community radio stations to provide 15,000 local people information on violence against women and the harmful effects of female genital mutilation
  • Train community elders, police and health workers on laws protecting women and girls from violence including and support them to collectively eliminate female genital mutilation and early marriage in their communities
  • Provide legal aid, working with para-legals and pro bono lawyers and psycho-social counselling to survivors of violence, to help women access justice and cope with and resolve the challenges they face.
“I was so bitter with life when I came to FIDA but they put me through counselling. At that time, I was not eating, I was so stressed but the counselling really helped me. I realised that life must continue without my spouse. They gave me a reality check.” – Mary, whose husband abandoned her

Federation of Women Lawyers – Kenya (FIDA Kenya)

  • Kenya
  • Africa
FIDA Kenya has been working in Kenya for 30 years and has a wealth of experience in advocating for women’s rights.
Read More

Increasing women’s political participation

In Kenya, female leaders often find themselves sidelined in the political arena.

The Constitution of Kenya 2010 introduced a quota system to increase women’s participation in politics. However, the Supreme Court ruled, in 2012, that it should be ‘gradually implemented’, undermining progress towards women’s leadership.

With funding from the Dutch government through its FLOW (Funding Leadership and Opportunities for Women) programme Womankind is assisting FIDA Kenya to:

  • Strengthen the skills of female county assembly members in five Kenyan counties to review county laws and budgets so they can participate in decisions that affect the lives of women in their counties.
  • Provide technical advice to women and men county assembly members to effectively analyse and support ‘women-friendly’ laws and budgets.
  • To bring together women from the five county assemblies to share strategies and build a support network of women county assembly members

Our impact in Kenya

Thanks to our partnership with FIDA Kenya:

  • Around 5,000 people heard messages on women’s rights and violence against women.
  • 1,859 women survivors of violence received support from legal aid services.
  • 79 women received training on psycho-social counselling and reporting violence against women. This has helped them support women survivors of violence.
  • 35 women leaders were trained to voice the needs, priorities and interests of women.
  • 333 women received counselling, helping them to overcome trauma.
  • 68 women were represented in court, 435 women were trained in legal self-representation and 797 women were referred for legal help.
  • 8,000 promotional materials were distributed to raise awareness of women’s rights.
  • 107 women county assembly members were able to better analyse and review county legislation and budgets
  • Women county assembly members were able push forward women friendly motions such as the provision of free sanitary towels and soap for girls in school,

Find out more about our impact

Help us do more

£39 will pay for training for a woman county assembly member, including transport, refreshments and materials, so that they can improve their decision-making skills

£80 will pay for six group therapy and counselling sessions for a woman survivor of violence.

£69 will pay for a woman survivor of violence to receive legal aid.