February 7, 2008–New York, NY–As the political response to the violence in Kenya moves into a new phase of negotiations, MADRE supports Kenyan women's groups demanding a voice at the negotiating table.
This week, the Kenya Red Cross reported that the death toll in Kenya now exceeds 1, 000 people, with another 300, 000 uprooted from their homes. Negotiations between the rival political parties, mediated by former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, have progressed fitfully. Meanwhile, reports of sexual violence against women have more than doubled, particularly in the displacement camps.
A coalition of Kenyan women's groups recently facilitated a consultation in Nairobi, presenting their findings to the mediation team. This document details the key role that women must play in resolving this conflict and lays out concrete solutions. The full text of analysis and recommendations contained in the women's memorandum is available here: http://allafrica.com/stories/200801310664.html.
Vivian Stromberg, MADRE's Executive Director, said today, "In Kenya and in similar situations around the world, violence impacts women disproportionately. Women are targeted with rape as a political weapon, designed to traumatize communities. Women have less access to already-limited health and humanitarian aid services, and women's voices are shut out from negotiations. Kenyan women's groups are standing up to this unjust dynamic and proposing solutions grounded in their expertise. Any further negotiations must thoroughly incorporate their perspectives."
MADRE also released an analysis of US and international media coverage of the violence in Kenya, titled "Inequality, Not Identity, Fuels Violence in Kenya." This paper is available here: /index.php?s=4&news=69.
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Betty Murungi (http://allafrica.com/stories/200801310664.html) is Director of the Urgent Action Fund-Africa and has been a lawyer in private practice in Kenya for 17 years. She is a member of the Board of Kituo Cha Katiba, the East African Centre for Constitutional Development, and is the Law Society of Kenya Representative on the board of the Public Law Institute. She was the chair of the Executive Committee of the Women's Caucus for Gender Justice for an International Criminal Court and is currently on the Board of Women's Initiatives for Gender Justice (WIGJ). Since 1998, Ms. Murungi has been a consultant and legal advisor to Rights & Democracy on gender-related crimes at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). In 2003, Ms. Murungi was awarded the Kenya National Honour of the Moran of the Order of the Burning Spear for her work on human rights issues.