Where I Stand

On the 11th, Augie and I attended the World Population Event, where it wasn’t that populous, but there were guest speakers who held an important role. They had an emphasis on young women, elderly, and disabled people. On Thursday, I was able to meet with the District Commissioner. For the gender based violence project, we are trying to reach out to potential partners so that the foundation of the project will be strong. He brought up an interesting topic of how programs that are geared towards reducing gender based violence narrows their vision to only providing for young women.

Since I first arrived in Kenya, I’ve noticed a big division of what identifies a boy and a girl. One of my Kenyan friends told me how as a young girl she was told that she should wear skirts and dresses so that she can be differentiated from her future husband. And I understand how that is the norm. It’s the reaction from people when you put on that skirt or dress. If you have a skirt on you should hang out with people with skirts. Males would hang out with males. This goes the same to females.

There is a lot of gray area, when people say they want to stop gender based violence. Statistics show that young women are the most vulnerable when it comes to gender based violence. It is reasonable that programs want to address the young women population. One in five Kenyan women experience some kind of violence. This issue needs to be addressed. Women need to be empowered and their self-esteem needs to be built. That is what KMET and other organizations are also working towards. Empowering women.

What about the LGBTIQ community? What about men? We empower a certain group, but forget about the others.
Young boys, growing into manhood is tough shit and this is true everywhere. Most learn on their own and there are not a lot of social organizations that guides young boys into manhood. Instead they learn by watching their dads beat their moms, they retain their anger from age 5 and let it out by beating their wife, they over drink because there is too much stress. So should ending gender based violence be mostly about women?

Despite the slow development of acceptance of the LGBTIQ community, organizations tend to forget that they also experience gender based violence as well. And I wish I had the courage to bring it up to my organization. I think it is too early. If I had more time in Kenya I think I’d try to advocate for the LGBTIQ community in KMET, to also outreach to that community.

The increase of young women experiencing gender based violence and reporting is a start, but I think gender is too big a problem to be focused on  women.

Amy Ma ’18
Kenya

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