KEPSA partnered with the Women on Boards Network to undertake a Gender-Based Violence (GBV) and Mental Health forum held virtually for the Women on Boards members. This was part of a series of GBV and Mental Health awareness sessions that KEPSA is facilitating for its members courtesy of support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in line with advancing the Generation Equality Forum (GEF) Action Coalition on GBV in the country.
KEPSA Director of Governance, Ms. Catherine Musakali opened the forum by condemning any form of GBV against any gender, adding that GBV has no place in Kenya in this day and age.
“As the Women on Boards Network, we advocate for a society where both men and women feel valued and supported to contribute to the socio-economic growth of this country by ensuring that everyone feels protected and empowered,” said Ms. Musakali
The Chief Administrative Secretary, Ministry of Public Service and Gender, Hon. Linah Kilimo in her keynote speech highlighted that even though the Government of Kenya is a signatory to various international treaties, and has a raft of legislative instruments towards eliminating GBV in the country, there is need for concerted efforts in the engagement of all the stakeholders in the prevention, protection and response to all forms of GBV.
Hon. Kilimo challenged the private sector and its partners to complement the commitments that the government has set under the GEF arm through implementing some practical targeted interventions. These could include, embracing and implementing initiatives such as observing gender lens in the recruitment and retention of female employees, continued studies for evidence-based programming, undertaking Corporate Social Responsibilities (CSR) in scale-up of GBV safe shelters, support for the Policare initiative, and adopting to support girl/women-led organizations.
She highlighted that the cost of GBV and Mental is high, thus the need for their prevention at all costs. 9 in every 10 people suffer from a mental health issue coupled with its low awareness and stigmatization. She further reiterated the Government’s commitment to the partnership with the private sector towards a positive impact in the society.
In his presentation, the Gender Specialist, Mr. Phillip Otieno, took to provide an understanding of forms, causes and contributors of GBV in the workplace. He mentioned that GBV is a violation of human rights as it violates the right to control one’s own body and space, and is a public Health & social concern since it is a large-scale problem that has a wide effect.
Some of the practical solutions discussed at the forum that can be adopted by the private sector include;
- Describe GBV, prevention, protection, response and pathways through safe spaces such as the toilets.
- Having a designated GBV Officer, desk or committee in the organizations.
- Use of suggestion boxes for confidential reporting of GBV violations.
- Organizations having stand alone GBV policies and guidelines that form part of new staff orientation package.
- Awareness creation, sensitization and Capacity building of Boards, managers and staff on GBV
- Undertake frequent mental health assessments.
- Inhouse counsellors or psycho-therapists.
- Statement of commitments posted for all to see.
The KEPSA GBV and Mental Health Lead, Ms. Zuhura Odhiambo, in her closing remarks assured of KEPSA’s continued with the GBV advocacy program that aims at creating an enabling environment for the elimination of GBV, scaling up evidence-driven prevention programming, and accessible services for survivors through the private sector intervention through implementing a raft of commitments under the GEF Banner to solidify and raising awareness of promoting the gender integration in the private sector.