The elimination of violence against women and children is a human rights obligation as set out in various UN Conventions and Declarations:
“Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person” – Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 3.
“Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All Children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection” – Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 25(2).
“Calls on all parties to armed conflict to take special measures to protect women and girls from gender-based violence, particularly rape and other forms of sexual abuse, and all other forms of violence in situations of armed conflict” –United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Resolution 1325 of 2000.
“The child, by reason of his physical and mental immaturity, needs special safeguards and care, including appropriate legal protection, before as well as after birth” – The preamble to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
The Shalom Empowerment Center will be located at St. Josphat’s House, Kahuho Rd, Riruta in the outskirts of Nairobi where seven informal urban settlements or slum areas – Kawangware, Kabiria, Satelite, Kangemi, Dagoretti, Waithaka, and Kibera – interface with or are close to each other. The Center is also accessible from Mathare and Kariobangi slums. For many years, much of Shalom-SCCRR’s work has been, and continues to be, the transformation and resolution of inter-ethnic and religious ideological extremist conflicts throughout numerous marginalized semi-arid terrains of eastern Africa and in the informal urban settlements (slums) around Nairobi.
Shalom-SCCRR actively trains and engages hundreds of women and men influential opinion shapers in working towards breaking the vicious cycle of conflict in these locations. Since its founding, Shalom-SCCRR has focused on addressing issues of women’s right to their dignity, safety and security.
This approach has encountered many social and cultural challenges within ethnic and national populations throughout Eastern Africa. Presently, the number of women participants in our conflict transformation interventions has risen from 2% to 38%. This is a significant development involving cultural conscientization and social transformation regarding the dignity and rights of women and their invaluable role in resolving all forms of conflict. We advance the opportunities for women and families in their care to progress sustainable peace, development and human security in Eastern Africa. Shalom-SCCRR’s mission is to prevent and transform all forms of manifest and structural violence inflicted on human life. Violent environments generate enormous suffering with women and children disproportionately bearing the brunt more often than not.
The Shalom Empowerment Center (SEC) addressing Violence against Women and Children will be another important aspect of our outreach programmes, primarily attending to violence against women and children in the slum areas around Nairobi. However, its doors will be open to violence-affected people and populations from other areas. The social conditions and challenges that women and children face on a daily basis in impoverished urban settlements and other marginalized remote locations, are extremely arduous and protracted.
This new Center will give special attention to all forms of manifest and structural violence; inter-ethnic, inter-religious, domestic violence, sexual violence, among others. In doing so the Center will provide training on conflict transformation skills, peacebuilding techniques, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) healing approaches, and other relevant interventions to women and children suffering from violence. Empowering women and children to be significant architects of their own security and development whereby their human rights and dignity are respected and honored will be at the heart of the Center’s training programmes. With the help of God, a professional qualified team, and caring people, the Center will instill healing, empowerment, control and authoritative voice to the women and children whom it serves. We believe that social protection systems and formation institutions for gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls are needed to ensure that the lives and dignity of women and their children are esteemed, valued, and protected.
The Center’s Objectives in addressing Violence against Women and Children are:
- To build capacities for peace and conflict management for women suffering violence in locations of inter-ethnic conflict and inter-religious violent extremism, through research, training, development, and transformation of relationships for long-term conflict prevention and management.
- To promote ongoing research and continuous learning to advance social care interventions in order to achieve sustainable peace and holistic development for women and children.
- To create awareness among community groups – men and women –about their role in the transformation of the root causes and the evil/immoral mentality of human trafficking, especially of women and girls.
- To create compatible structures, policies, and practices to promote protection of human rights and dignity of women and children in remote isolated areas of slums and other marginalized locations, for the promotion of a society where peace, security and development can take place.
- To establish comprehensive plans for collaboration and engagement with government institutions, social care funders and providers, community and faith-based organizations to ensure coordinated social service delivery.
- To provide sustainable livelihood guidance for women and children who have suffered violence in conflict zones mentioned above, be it inter-ethnic, inter-religious, intra-community, domestic, sexual, etc.
- To create awareness among community groups – men and women, – particularly in conflict environments, on women’s role in conflict transformation, peacebuilding, and development.
- To promote the development of similar Empowerment Centers addressing Violence against Women and Children in other informal urban settlements or slums.
We believe that these objectives are critically important. Violence against women and children, be it during social conflict/war, structural violence, sexual violence, domestic violence, among other forms, is often linked to reproductive health. Thousands of women, young girls and children in informal urban settlements suffer from many forms of violence – sexual, child and/or forced marriage, sex trafficking and rape – which inflict very serious damage on individuals and families, and are global public health problems of epidemic proportions. The negative consequences resulting from this violence include exposure to suicide and depression, mental health issues, unstable family relationships, physical and psychological trauma, risk of miscarriage and having low birth weight infants and delayed onset of prenatal care.
There is a widespread increase in human trafficking in Kenya today. Although boys and men are victims as well, the majority of individuals identified as trafficked for both labor and the sex trade are women and girls. According to the U.S. Department of State, Trafficking in Persons Report 2020, the government of Kenya reported identifying 853 victims of trafficking – 275 adult females, 351 girls, and 227 boys – a significant increase compared with about 400 identified victims in 2018. Trafficked women and girls encounter high rates of physical and sexual violence, including homicide and torture, psychological abuse, horrific work and living conditions, and extreme deprivation while in transit. Serious mental health problems result from trafficking, including anxiety, depression, self-injurious behavior, suicidal ideation and suicide, drug and alcohol addiction, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), dissociative disorders and complex PTSD.
Domestic violence is a major social problem affecting the health of millions of people often resulting from prolonged physical and emotional injuries. Similarly, other forms of violence against women in the slums include rape, forced abortion against their will by men and families; and female genital mutilation (FGM). Domestic violence is mainly perpetrated by men and thus it is imperative that when solving domestic violence related issues, collective responsibility and input from men and society at large should be emphasized.
Parenting is of critical importance as it is a sphere of life that significantly influences and forms the stability and future security of a child and, consequently, society as a whole. It shapes a child’s future morality, ethics, respect for the dignity of every human being, and their overall social responsibilities. Transforming and countering all forms of violence, including violence against women and children, can be enhanced by emphasizing the collective responsibility of both parents for these formative issues. The necessity of establishing and ensuring impartial access to social care and support institutions for those who are the victims, and perpetrators, of violence is also of critical importance.
The Shalom Empowerment Center (SEC) addressing Violence against Women and Children will pursue the following strategies to achieve our objectives:
- Counteract the lack of respect for, inadequate promotion and protection of the human rights, human dignity and opportunities for women and children in inter-ethnic and inter-religious conflict environments.
- Address the inadequacies of women’s and children’s empowerment in conflict transformation skills and peace-building techniques particularly in locations of inter-ethnic and inter-religious conflict, and urban slum marginalized settlements.
- Seek to eliminate the power imbalances that support all forms of violence against women and children.
- Address the greater burden of emotional, cultural, physical, and psychological violence among women and children, particularly cognizant of the increasing burden of depression, high rates of suicide and mental health issues.
- Provide guidance on resilience to counter the increased risk of anxiety, low self-esteem, impaired personal development, and other livelihood and well-being issues.
- Seek to address the insufficient mechanisms to promote morality, ethics, and respect for the rule of law needed to assist and protect women and children in conflict environments.
- Seek to engage with government, religious institutions, and social organizations such as churches, mosques, and schools to counter all forms of violence, addressing the lack of access to essential education, health and related services.
- Nurture and implement peace education support for children, inculcating a culture of peace and respect among and between boys and girls.
- Explore the infrastructural development of similar centers in other locations.
At the Center
Mrs. Judith Akedi Otsieno MA, Shalom-SCCRR, Lead Project Officer
Sr. Lucy Njori B.Com, Dimesse Sisters, St. Josphat’s House Projects Administrator
Sr. Sarah Ngigi KRCHN, Dimesse Sisters, Nurse and Counseling Officer
Mrs. Nancy Mirera, MA, Counselling Psychologist and Mental Health Worker
Ms. Esther Njeri Kibe MA, Shalom-SCCRR, Project Officer
Sr. Catherine Mutua, Daughters of St. Anne, Dipl. Community Development & Social Worker
Shalom-SCCRR Management Team
Rev. Oliver Noonan MA, Shalom-SCCRR Executive Director
Mr. Godfrey Okoth MA, Shalom-SCCRR Senior Project Officer
Dr. Patrick Devine PhD, Shalom-SCCRR International Chairman, Project Coordinator of Patrons and Promoters
If you would like any further information about the objectives or work of the Shalom Empowerment Center, please contact us;
Shalom Centre for Conflict Resolution and Reconciliation (SCCRR)
PO. Box 827-00606
Mobile (Africa): +254724903032
Mobile (Africa): +254728647093
Mobile (Africa): +254733612503
Mobile (Africa): +254721346974