Eastern Africa

 SHALOM EMPOWERMENT CENTER (SEC) ADDRESSING VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN AND CHILDREN: A UNIQUE SHALOM-SCCRR INITIATIVE OPENED

By August 1, 2022 August 8th, 2022 No Comments

Responding to Shalom-SCCRR’s launch of Shalom Empowerment Center (SEC), aimed at transforming the lives of vulnerable and marginalized women and children in the extremely poor urban informal settlements, Mrs. Lucy Mukunjura, familiar with the location said, “The adverse life events and slum living conditions characterized by dire poverty, insecurity and violence, exposes women and children to shameful and stigmatizing conditions rendering them vulnerable and destitute. This calls for effective strategies and interventions to help them prevent and respond to the violence against them. The need for social support to women and children living in the informal urban settlements (slums) can therefore never be over-emphasized.”  

Shalom Empowerment Center (SEC) Compound in Riruta Informal Urban Settlements

Violence against women and children is a complex social problem in Nairobi’s urban informal settlements (slums). Exposure to various forms of harm and living in fear prevents women from fully realizing their potentials, reducing their wellbeing, and also reducing their contribution to the development of society. Like most urban slums in the world, women and children in Nairobi’s slums suffer a number of challenges, including fewer educational and economic opportunities, limited access to reproductive health services, poor representation in decision-making and high rates of violence. The latest survey by Trends and Insights for Africa (Tifa), shows that women are the majority victims of domestic violence at 52 percent followed by men at 37 percent and children at 36 percent. The survey conducted between September 24 and October 2021, shows that women continue to suffer from violence despite well-intentioned government efforts to end the vice.[1]

Shalom-SCCRR’s Mrs. Judith Akedi MA, interacting with women from Kibera Informal Settlements (Slum) in Nairobi

Thousands of women and children in the urban informal settlements where the Shalom Empowerment Center (SEC) addressing violence against women and children works, suffer from violence of many forms — sexual violence, child and/or forced marriage, sex trafficking and rape – which are global public health problems of epidemic proportions. Lack of empowerment keeps women away from overcoming subjugation of violence. The negative consequences resulting from this violence include exposure to depression and suicidal tendencies, mental health issues, unstable family relationships, experiencing physical and psychological violence, risk of miscarriage and having low birth weight infants and delayed onset of prenatal care.

An Ariel view of a section of the Kibera Slums in Nairobi, one of the urban informal settlements (slums) where Shalom-SCCRR works

The cost and consequences of violence against women last for generations. Children who witness domestic violence are at increased risk of anxiety, depression, low-self-esteem, poor school performance, among other problems that harm their well-being and personal development. Mrs. Fransica Mbula, a health worker from Riruta underpins this by noting that, “Women and children in the informal urban settlements have undergone a lot of abuse and pain but they chose to live in their abusive conditions as they are not empowered on how to address these forms of violence.”

Shalom-SCCRR’s Mrs. Judith Akedi MA, Ms. Ilhan Ali Salah Dipl. Peace and Conflict, and Sr. Catherine Mutua on a visit to a family in Kibera Informal Settlements (Slum) in Nairobi, as part of the community outreach aimed at engaging women to identify the appropriate interventions.

The establishment of the Shalom Empowerment Center (SEC) was born from an experience of the arduous and protracted social challenges that the organization has witnessed women, children and families face on a daily basis in the urban slum settings of Nairobi. Ms. Ilhan Ali Salah, in endorsing the center said, “In my short experience of the Shalom Empowerment Centre project, I can attest to the importance of this centre and its need for the vulnerable communities in the urban informal settlements and encourage support for the centre from all over the world.” The SEC is a high priority institution within the structure of the Shalom-SCCRR’s vision, mission and interventions that seeks to promote protection and respect for the human rights of women and children.

John Cardinal Njue, Kenya, assisted by Rev. Eugene Kubasu and Rev. Patrick Kimani during the recent blessing of the Shalom Empowerment Center (SEC)
Rev. Oliver Noonan, Shalom-SCCRR Executive Director, planting a tree of life as Rev. Dr. Patrick Devine waters it, during the recent blessing of Shalom Empowerment Center (SEC). Present also is Rev. Eugene Kubasu and Rev. Patrick Kimani.
Participants at the Shalom Empowerment Center (SEC) located at St. Josphat’s House in Riruta, Nairobi

Shalom Empowerment Center (SEC) is committed to addressing all forms of manifest and structural violence inflicted on human life through research, training, development, and transformation of relationships for long-term conflict prevention and management. Since our inception, the SEC has been engaging influential women and youth leaders from 10 informal urban settlements or slum areas within Nairobi (Riruta; Waithaka; Dagoretti; Kibera; Mathare; Kariobangi; Korogocho; Kangemi; Kawangware; and Huruma). In the past six months, the center has trained over 400 women leaders and 100 youth leaders as a basis for enabling them to be agents of transforming the key drivers of violence against women and children in their localities.

Shalom-SCCRR’s Project Officers for Women and Children Program Mrs. Judith Akedi MA, and Ms. Esther Kibe MA, engaging women from Mathare Informal Settlements (slums) on the dignity and rights of women and their invaluable role in resolving all forms of conflict.

The capacity building is empowering the women and youth with analytical skills and peacebuilding techniques essential for conflict transformation and reconciliation within their conflict environments. Women have been empowered through trainings on paradigms of conflict analysis, conflict transformation, and women’s role in peacebuilding. These trainings have been key in enabling the women to develop frameworks for the prevention and transformation of emerging violent situations among communities.

The Shalom-SCCRR team: Starting from the left, Sr. Catherine Mutua, Sr. Lucy Njori, Mrs. Judith Akedi, Mrs. Nancy Mirera, Sr. Sarah Ngigi and Ms. Esther Kibe engaging with youths living in the informal urban settlements on their role as agents of transforming the key drivers of violence against women and children in their areas.

Project Team: Mrs. Judith Akedi Otsieno MA, & Ms. Esther Njeri Kibe MA, Shalom-SCCRR; Sr. Lucy Njori B.Com, & Sr. Sarah Ngigi KRCHN (Nurse) Dimesse Sisters; Mrs. Nancy Mirera, MA Counseling Psychology; and Sr. Catherine Mutua Dipl. Com Dev, Daughters of St. Anne.

Appreciating the work of the Shalom Empowerment Center (SEC), Mrs. Elizabeth Odour from Mathare noted that, “women in the informal urban settlements have really bore the brunt of manifest violent conflict and they are not given an opportunity to participate in the transformation of these conflicts.” She lauded Shalom Empowerment Center (SEC) for the availability of a center where women are empowered with the analytical skills that will see the vulnerable and marginalized women from these locations play a crucial role in overcoming subjugation of violence in their conflict environs.

Shalom-SCCRR’s Ms. Esther Kibe MA, and Ms. Ilhan Ali Salah Dipl. Peace and Conflict, guiding women from Riruta urban informal settlement in an interactive group discussion on the existing frameworks for conflict prevention in their areas.

Ms. Catherine Maina, a para-legal and community leader from Mathare appreciated Shalom Empowerment Center’s (SEC) unique approach that sets out to establish the root causes, as distinct from just dealing with the symptoms, of conflict in specific target project areas. This, she underscores has been achieved through the tremendous rigorous work done by Shalom Empowerment Center’s (SEC) team of highly qualified peace practitioners. 

Shalom-SCCRR’s Mr. Arthur Magero MA, facilitating a training session with women from Kawangware urban informal settlements on their role in peacebuilding

Shalom Empowerment Center (SEC) actively trains and engages hundreds of women and men influential opinion shapers in working towards breaking the vicious cycle of conflict in the urban informal settlements of Nairobi. Since its founding, the organization has focused on addressing issues of women’s right to their dignity, safety and security. 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. Going forward, the Shalom Empowerment Center (SEC) hopes to establish similar empowerment centers in the Northern part of Kenya that will be addressing the different forms of violence facing the vulnerable and marginalized women and children from those regions.

Ms. Esther Kibe MA, Shalom-SCCRR Project Officer on the ground with women from marginalized communities in Northern Kenya

As a center we acknowledge the ongoing contribution of our donors and supporters whose continued support will go a long way in endeavoring to end violence against women and children, help their recovery from the violence they have experienced in their lives and to ensure sustainable peace in the areas they come from. The project is committed to empowering women and children to be significant architects of their own security and development whereby their human rights and dignity are respected and honored. We focus on the unique needs of women, children and families in Nairobi’s urban informal settlements, recognizing their exposure to violence — manifest and structural, while ensuring that support is available.

Another new center supported by Shalom-SCCRR, called the Mary and Joseph Life Center (MJLC) — a place of refuge for women, girls, and families going through crisis pregnancy situations, and for women who have had abortions and are going through psychological and spiritual trauma, seeking healing and restorative care, has also just been founded and launched. Subsequent newsletters will further expand on the development of the MJLC, as well as the progress of the Shalom Empowerment Center (SEC).


By

Mrs. Judith Akedi Otsieno MA, Shalom-SCCRR, Lead Project Officer

Ms. Esther Njeri Kibe MA, Shalom-SCCRR, Project Officer 

Relevant Links:

https://shalomconflictcenter.org/shalom-empowerment-center-sec/

https://www.indcatholicnews.com/news/45158

https://shalomconflictcenter.org/shalom-empowerment-center-opens-in-nairobi-kenya/

https://shalomconflictcenter.org/shalom-sccrrs-contribution-to-women-in-conflict-transformation-and-peacebuilding/

https://shalomconflictcenter.org/the-girl-child-shalom-sccrr-impacting-the-lives-of-young-girls-in-marginalized-and-remote-locations-in-eastern-africa/

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