Gender & Governance
The Gender and Governance Program is a national multi-stakeholder program funded by a group of donors and managed by the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment (UN Women). The overall goal of the program is to transform leadership and governance at all levels in Kenya in order to deliver on poverty reduction, access to basic needs and equality between and among persons. The purpose of the program is to strengthen women’s leadership at community and national levels in Kenya. The program is implemented by over 50 civil society organizations in Kenya working to promote gender equality and women rights. Different organizations implemented different activities depending on their areas of strength and capacity.
ACWICT was mandated to implement the e-Governance for Gender Equality component of the program. The goal of the e-governance for gender equality component of the program is to promote women’s participation in leadership and democratic governance through enhancing their access to timely and relevant information or decision making. This was achieved through providing a platform for online advocacy including a web-portal on gender and governance issues; publishing a monthly electronic newsletter – USAWA; working with mainstream, vernacular media and news correspondents to generate and disseminate news and information on issues pertinent to women; developing and disseminating profiles of women leaders and political aspirants as a way of promoting positive images of women in leadership within communities and at national level; supporting coaching and mentorship activities for emerging women leaders; and building capacities of women leaders in ICTs as tools for advocacy, networking and information exchange.
Over the last nine years, ACWICT has been involved in key program activities including several constitutional review processes and referenda that culminated into the Kenya Constitution 2010; general elections 2007 and 2013; and the gender and post election peace building following the post election violence that rocked the country after the 2007 general elections.
During the constitutional review process conducted in 2005 and 2010 ACWICT carried out SMS-based civic education programs and mobilized the women’s movement in Kenya and the citizenry in support for the draft constitution. ACWICT facilitated online campaigns through the GGP web portal, the newsletter and SMS driven mobilization and outreach programs. In the end, the draft constitution received overwhelming support resulting in Kenya’s promulgation of the new constitution in August 2010 with provisions for Affirmative action and protection for women’s rights. The constitutional review was critical in Kenya’s history as it had been a journey spanning over 20 years.
In the 2007 and 2013 general elections, ACWICT provided information through the web portal and the USAWA newsletter as well as SMS messages that enabled voters make informed decisions; provided of a platform for debate through allowing exchange of opinions among contesting women leaders and citizens; acted as a watchdog for fairness during election campaigns and polling; and provided a voice to voters. In addition, the web portal and the newsletter enhanced citizen’s access to information across large distances and reach to masses while also providing platforms for profiling and increasing visibility of women leaders as a way of campaigning for women aspirants; disseminating messages (including campaign messages) opinions and experiences from women’s perspective, This resulted in an increase in the number of women that were elected/nominated to the national assembly in the two general elections.
The Gender and Post Election Peace Building component of address gender related challenges emerging from the post election violence in 2007/2008; ACWICT was part of the media and public communication cluster that was charged with disseminating peace messages in the aftermath of the post poll chaos in 2007/8. Under the Gender and Post Election Peace Building in Kenya Initiative, ACWICT disseminated peace messages through the programme web portal, an electronic newsletter (USAWA) and a bulk short messaging system (SMS). The messages were aimed at healing rifts caused by post election violence, supporting advocacy actions around media gags and supporting media networks/journalists on gender sensitive conflict reporting.
ACWICT has gained considerable experience and knowledge in managing partner information databases, documenting and sharing partner activities, continuous information sharing and exchange, and online advocacy in a multiple-partner program setting. In addition, ACWICT has also gained deeper knowledge on gender and governance related matters in Kenya and in the East African Region in its entirety.