International Development Law Organization

Kenya introduces model county law and policy on gender-based violence

6 Dec 2017

The national commission overseeing gender and equality matters in Kenya has published model legislation on sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV), designed to help county governments effectively protect women and girls from violence.

Developed with support from IDLO, the model policy and accompanying model legislative framework will provide guidance to institutions at the county level on critical elements relating to SGBV for their use when drafting county legislation aligned with national frameworks.

Over 200 representatives of Kenya’s national and county governments as well as members of the international community gathered to mark the launch on November 20, 2017 in Nairobi, as part of build-up activities towards celebration of the 16 days of activism against SGBV.

Sexual and gender-based violence in Kenya

The 2010 Constitution of Kenya places significant emphasis on human rights, equality and justice, and has established independent commissions to oversee the protection of particular rights and freedoms. One of these is the National Gender and Equality Commission (NGEC), which is mandated with promoting gender equality and freedom from discrimination, with a special focus on special interest groups including women, youth, children, persons with disabilities, the elderly and minority or marginalized communities.

“Kenya has a progressive Constitution and has made major strides in developing legislative frameworks on response, prevention and management of SGBV,” said the chairperson of the NGEC, Winfred O. Lichuma. “I urge county governments to provide adequate resources and enhance partnerships for a comprehensive response to increasing incidences of SGBV.”

Kenya is seeking to foster coordinated responses to SGBV at the county level by providing a uniform model legislative platform which can be contextualized to the needs of individual counties.

Dr. Ruth Aura Odhiambo, IDLO’s gender specialist and the lead consultant on the project, explained that county legislation will help confront negative attitudes about SGBV in communities. She noted that prior to this legislation, gaps existed in the response, prevention and coordination of SGBV activities despite Kenya’s progressive legal and policy frameworks.

“There was no dedicated body to address the complexities of SGBV; no obligation to provide extensive education; no safe houses or shelters; no specific budget; and basic healthcare services were inaccessible or unavailable to victims,” Dr. Aura explained. “This law imposes a duty on county governments to make essential services available to SGBV victims as a matter of right. Consequently, county governments will be forced to prioritize funding targeted at SGBV-related programs.”

IDLO technical support to develop model legislation

Isaak Okero Otieno, IDLO’s Country Director in Kenya

In February 2016, the NGEC requested IDLO’s assistance to engage a technical expert to develop model legislation on SGBV, in consultation with relevant stakeholders and population groups and in accordance with national, regional and international legal frameworks.

“The main objective of these two publications is to provide guidance to the county governments and to effectively aid their legislators on pertinent considerations for enacting laws on SGBV,” explained Isaak Okero Otieno, IDLO’s Country Director in Kenya. “The policy and legislative framework consolidate various provisions on SGBV found in international, regional and national instruments, for ease of reference by the county governments.”

Kenya’s 47 county governments have limited capacity for legislative drafting and policy development, and lack effective mechanisms to ensure county legislation met constitutional standards. IDLO has been supporting the devolution process by building the capacity of county governments to develop legislation, and by facilitating coordination between national and county levels of government.

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Top image: NGEC Chairperson Winfred Lichuma and Maurice Makoloo, Director for East Africa, Ford Foundation at the launch event in Nairobi

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