Chief Administrative Secretary for Gender in the Ministry of Public Service, Dr. Linah Jebii Kilimo has called for the need to end gender-based violence.
Speaking at a virtual meeting during the University of Nairobi (UoN) Gender Day that coincided with the UN International Day of Families, Dr. Kilimo said the rise in gender-based violence is major threat to the survival of the family unit.
“The stuck reality came out during the lockdown that followed the containment measures in the wake of Covid-19, when we realized that women and girls were no longer safe in the home,” she said and added, “the family is an important agent of socialisation which should be relegated to technology.” She urged parents to play their role effectively noting that mothers as nurturers ought to instil values in children as they grow up.
In her keynote address, the Director and Associate Research Professor at the Institute for Development Studies (IDS) at the University of Nairobi (UoN) Professor Winnie Mitullah said that at a very early stage of life when children do not interact beyond the household, they are exposed to other agents of socialization including public media, television and social media which is enabled through Information Communications Technology (ICT), that then exposes them to different norms and values.
Speaking on the theme: “Socially Just Transition Towards Sustainable Development: The Role of Digital Technologies on Social Development and Well-being of All, said when young people they grow beyond the household, they then interact with communities, peers, learning institutions, social groups, religion, media, state structures and the world of work, all enabled by ICT.
Don called for more research in understanding gender and socialization that goes beyond family in understanding interactions at all levels of life cycle as well as the role that technology plays in gender interactions.
While acknowledging that a family is essential for personal, social, and economic development; and security and peace, Prof. Mitullah said the family is key in enforcing the four types of health that include; physical, social, moral and mental health.
A Senior Lecturer at the University of Nairobi Dr. Alice Odingo noted that there is a close relationship between gender socialization, family and socio-economic development.
“When children do not conform to gender norms and or identities and are not well socialized, they may feel marginalized,” she said.
UN Women representative Wanjiku Kahuria noted that while technology has aided in the new normal following the advent of Covid-19 pandemic she said the downside is seeing technology misused as incidents of cyberbullying and manipulation of young girls and older women has been on the rise as well as screen fatigue.
Equally, she noted that lack of access to technology by some part of the population is also causing marginalisation as some people cannot access services that are mainly provided through technology.
The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Representative Dr. Ademola Olajide called for leveraging technology in order to enable women and girls to optimize their potential as a strategy to reduce vulnerability to GBV.
He noted that women and girls are bearing a disproportionate impact from Covid-19 pandemic, “the home is the least safe for women and girls during the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Olajide during the virtual meeting, noting that women faced more gender-based violence as they are locked in the homes that men and boys.