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Why not make all our days #16DaysofActivism

#16DaysofActivism happens once each year. Once every year, we see organisations including corporate entities share information about violence against women. It is noble that people identify the need to share and create awareness about violence against women. However, it is sad that these messages rarely translate to commitments that hold us accountable throughout the year. Women are abused at work, on the streets and in their homes. Culturally, we have normalised things like rape, sexual harrassment, and exclusion of women. 16 days each year is not enough to address the legacy of trauma that women have to endure as a result of abuse.

This year as we mark the 16 days, let us note down the companies that change their profiles to orange and let us remind them of these commitments when they act in contradiction to the messages they share this week. This week, as the media focuses on think pieces about violence against women, let us remind them of the role of media in perpetuating the culture of rape in our community. Finally, this year as we attend joint activities, let us remember that almost all public bodies in Kenya are unconstitutional because they do not meet the two thirds gender rule, as my friend Marilyn Kamuru likes to say.

This year is Azadi’s first celebration of #16DaysofActivism and we would like to emphasise the fact that human trafficking is a form of gender based violence. We would like to remind people that women and girls are disproportionately affected by human trafficking, accounting for more than 70 percent of currently identified victims according to the International Labour Organization (ILO). We would like to emphasise the need for an intersectional approach to human trafficking to address root causes of trafficking like gender inequality of trafficking and poverty. Most survivors of trafficking go through polyvictimisation and most of the abuses they face before being trafficked especially for women and girls are rooted in gender inequality. If ever there was a time to take this issue out of the silo where it exists, it is now.

Finally, we are not going to address these issues without inclusion of survivors at every level to discuss interventions. We are also not going to effectively address violence against women without investment. We need to budget and dedicate funds to exclusively address this issue. County governments need to make this issue a priority by having budget lines in their budget. This is the kind of commitment that goes beyond 16 days.

For survivors of trafficking whom Azadi exists to serve, we hope that our community is a place that reminds you that you are not alone. I hope that our work reminds you that survivors have the ability to lead, to develop interventions and above all, be more than beneficiaries in programmes.

This year we would like to highlight the Pussy Power Festival being held by Coalition for Grassroots Human Rights Defenders - Kenya, who are focusing on the theme of feminist joy as a form of resistance for feminists. Attend the sessions and learn about the great work that this organisation is doing.

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