Technical Visit: Meeting with the representatives of the LGBTIQ+ and Religious Leader Champions in Bandal, Kinshasa.

Technical visit: Meeting with representatives of the LGBTIQ+ and Religious Leader Champions in Bandal, Kinshasa.

Following, the SAVE training, the INERELA+ Secretariat staff embarked on a technical visit to and supporting the SAVE approach training in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Today Munya and Kennedy visited a group of Religious Leaders in Ndjili, on the outskirts of Kinshasa and had a lengthy discussion on the work the Religious Leaders are doing in relation to LGBTIQ+. Munya and Kennedy met and interacted with an LGBTIQ+ group called Rainbow in Bandal, Kinshasa. The dialogue envisaged the necessity for ongoing dialogue between Religious Leaders and LGBTIQ+ community in the DRC in order to have an inclusive strategy for addressing SRHR and HIV issues. It emerged that if Religious Leaders stand at the front, can break the barriers because they wield a lot of influence. The LGBTIQ+ community noted that they want to see a concerted effort in the fight against HIV issues involving: Law enforcement agencies (police and judiciary); health services and Religious Leaders. They also noted that since Religious Leaders command respect in most communities, forging a relationship with them is ideal to move forward. CONERELA+ efforts in combating stigma and discrimination were appreciated by the group.

2017 Growing Up Asian in America: Letter to the Senator

Commemoration of the Menstrual Health Day on the 28th of May, 2019 at City Carton Slum, Nairobi County.

Every May 28 Menstrual Hygiene Day (MH Day) raises awareness and combats taboos associated with menstrual hygiene with the goal of enabling women and girls to achieve their full potential. The date 28 May has been chosen for its special significance. May is the 5th month of the year, representing five days, or the average number of days (between two to seven) a woman or girl menstruates each month. Twenty-eight represents the average number of days in a menstrual cycle To mark this day INERELA+ Kenya engaged country networks to commemorate the Menstrual Health Day under the theme, “It’s Time for Action!. The day was used to break the silence and raise awareness as well as to change negative social norms around menstrual hygiene management for women and girls. The theme of Menstrual Hygiene Day 2019— “It’s Time for Action” not only emphasized the urgency of this public health issue but also highlighted the transformative power of improved menstrual hygiene to unlock economic and educational opportunities for women and girls.

As part of commemorations, INERELA+ Kenya engaged congregational champions and religious leaders to disseminate key messages and distribute sanitary towels to women in a low-income zone in Nairobi County in City Carton Slum. The slum is home to over 10,000 people, most of whom live below the poverty datum line. Due to the high poverty levels in the area, access to water and sanitation is a huge challenge for women and girls hence the challenges of menstrual hygiene. A total of 100 women (60 adult women above 25 years and 40 women between 12 – 25 years) were reached with key messaging as well as sanitary towels and were overjoyed by the generosity of KENERELA+.

Speaking to the participants, William Sila, the INERELA+ Kenya Communications and Programs Officer noted that in many societies, girls are marginalized and this is exacerbated by lack of proper menstrual hygiene. Approximately 300 million women menstruate every day. For millions of these women, this natural monthly occurrence is disruptive or even dangerous. Lack of adequate facilities and hygiene products coupled with myths and stigma, cause some to skip school or work or go into isolation. Many women lack access to menstrual hygiene products or sanitation facilities either due to limited availability or excessive cost Lack of menstrual hygiene management can have a significant impact on economic and educational opportunities for women and girls. Stigma and shame shroud menstruation around many societies maintain archaic and often harmful ideas and beliefs about menstruation. Such myths often portray women and girls as inferior to men and boys thus promoting gender discrimination, inequality and patriarchal practices. William challenged men to meaningfully participate in addressing menstrual hygiene and not to consider it as a women-only issue but rather a family issue. The persistence of widespread taboo surrounding menstruation results in girls in entering puberty with knowledge gaps and misconceptions about menstruation. Negative talk about periods are damaging girls’ self-esteem and sense of self-worth, putting their physical health at risk. Women and men of all ages must be made aware of the importance of menstrual hygiene through open dialogue and education at home and in school to foster engagement with this often unspoken issue.

Among the speakers was also Jesse Mbugua, a youth champion who noted that many young girls are exposed to dangers due to scanty knowledge of menstrual hygiene and called on parents to disseminate age-appropriate messaging to girls in order to empower them on sexual and reproductive health. This situation also underscores the need to expand health education women and men, young girls and boys no matter where they live must know about their bodies and sexual and reproductive health and rights. Ensuring every women’s and girls’ access to adequate MHM starts with the provision of accurate education on menstruation and menstrual hygiene so that women and girls feel confident and empowered enough to make informed decisions about their body, their health and how they manage their menstruation thus giving them the confidence to live their lives normally.

Janet Macharia, INERELA+ Kenya Legal Officer addressed the need for access to clean water for girls and women to ensure they maintain the highest standards of cleanliness. With accessible water and sanitation facilities that are safe, socially and culturally acceptable and where they can safely dispose of menstrual products within the school premises, women and girls are able to manage menstruation in privacy and with dignity and do not have to miss out on their studies when they menstruate

Apostle Njaramba noted that some of the infections including fungal infections are as a result of uncleanliness. He finalized by calling on the women and men to maintain high standards of cleanliness to ensure they do not get such infections.

Quote: “Periods are not a taboo, we must make our girls and women understand that periods is nothing to be ashamed about” – William Sila, INERELA+ Kenya.

ANCWL says gender-based violence ‘national crisis’, wants state of emergency declared.

ANCWL says gender-based violence ‘national crisis wants a state of emergency declared.

The ANC Women’s League (ANCWL) on Wednesday joined the growing calls for President Cyril Rhamaphosa to declare a state of emergency on gender-based violence, saying the scourge is a national crisis. This as outcry continues in the wake of more attacks on women and children nationwide in recent weeks.

South Africa was left reeling following news of the murders of Meghan Cremer, Lynette Volschenk, Leighandre “Baby Lee” Jegels, Janika Mallo, Uyinene Mrwetyana and Jesse Hess to name a few. Government has been slammed for inaction in the wake of these and other attacks. The ANCWL in a statement said: “South Africans we have marched, we have issued statements and we have had summits on violence against women and children and yet the scourge continues. A report released by the Stats SA in June 2018 indicated a drastic increase in the murder rate of women, amounting to a 117% increase between the period of 2015 to 2017. The numbers of women who have encountered rape has escalated from 31 665 in 2015 to 70,813 in 2017, which is a 53% increase.
“The numbers have been escalating despite our efforts and that of civil society, political formations and the public at large. Hence as the ANCWL, we believe that we must go deepen our campaigns and efforts in dealing with this scourge. We need to confront violence against women and children with the same viciousness it presents to us.

“Over the past weeks alone, the country has been mourning deaths of more than 20 woman who have been murdered either by their partners, in their homes and in places that should be a place of refuge for them such as a Post Office. The scourge of violence against women continues to be prevalent in our country and we have all been condemning these acts which undermine women’s rights to live peacefully without fear.”
The ANCWL said in light of this, it would intensify its efforts to find solutions and had “opened our doors for engagements with all those who respect women’s autonomy”. “Right now, we have just held a consultative engagement with our stakeholders, to discuss the scourge of violence against women and children, to consolidate actions in dealing with this scourge.

“Gender-based violence is a national crisis and [at the] top in the resolutions of the stakeholder meeting we have just convened, is calling for the president to declare a state of emergency, to amend sentencing and prosecution of offenders. We also call on all structures of the ANCWL and progressive women within the Mass Democratic Movement to adopt a programme of action to get law enforcement agencies to account on unresolved cases of violence against women and children from [a] local level.
Some of the ANCWL’s resolutions include: Calling for a state of emergency; prosecution and sentencing; chemical castration and localised action.
The league also said it intends to hold a national day of mourning on Thursday that will see women dressed in black to mourn victims, a stay-away next week, demand that Rhamaphosa address the nation over the matter and draft petitions and charters on the scourge.

“Enough is enough, let us all fight violence against women and children,” the league said.