Youth Initiative (SEMA)
SEMA– (Mapenzi bila chuki) which translates to Speak out –(Love without hate) is the fifth pillar in the Kenya Gender Based Violence Partnership (KGBVP) program which seeks to address attitudes and prevent stereotypical thinking around gender issues, facilitate behavior change by overcoming negative gender norms, and advocate for policies that promote gender inclusion in the communities, campuses, and secondary schools.
The mission of KGBVP is to reduce incidence of gender-based violence (GBV) through comprehensive and inclusive strategy of prevention, intervention, treatment, and enforcement by strengthening faith-based and community-based responses to the GBV pandemic in Kenya.
Under the overall mission of KGBVP, SEMA is an awareness raising and policy change platform, encouraging youth to take a stand in their communities and speak out against GBV. Recognizing that friends and intimate partners conduct the vast majority of GBV incidences, the approach “Mapenzi Bila Chuki” or “Love without Hate” is a strategic message to this population.
RATIONALE OF THE SEMA INITIATIVE
Gender based violence is a pandemic perpetrated mainly against women and children, resulting in physical, sexual, or psychological harm. USAID
and UNICEF research uncovers the following staggering statistics:
83% of women and girls in Kenya report one or more episodes of physical abuse in childhood,
75% of Kenyan women report having suffered from gender-based domestic violence in their homestead,
46% of women report at least one incident of sexual abuse as a child; and
25% of girls between 15 and 19 years old report losing their virginity by force
Culture and negative stereotypes are formed throughout childhood and extend into adulthood, affecting marriages and relationships. If theses stereotypes are addressed at an early age—the aim of SEMA—GBV incidence can be substantially reduced.
OBJECTIVES OF SEMA
To change attitudes and prevent stereotypical thinking around gender issues
at an early age
To facilitate behavior change by overcoming negative gender norms.
To advocate for policies that promote gender inclusion in the community, campuses, and secondary schools.
The initiative targets young people aged between 13 to 25 years in universities, secondary schools, and the general community, expecting to reach approximately 73,000 university students, 100,000 secondary school students, and 50,000 community youths.
Participating universities include: Africa Nazarene University (ANU), Catholic University of East Africa (CUEA), Kenyatta University (KU), University of Nairobi (UON), Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) and Daystar University. SEMA has an outreach in other universities through the partnership with Kenya Model UN.
Participating secondary schools include: Kariobangi North Girls Secondary School and Akiba School. SEMA has an outreach in various other secondary schools through the partnership with the Kenya Scouts Authority. We have community youths from 16 informal urban communities in Nairobi participating through our partnership with Mathare Youth Sports Association (MYSA).
SEMA OUTREACH STRATEGY
SEMA seeks to change individual and corporate behaviors as pertaining to GBV through two distinct strategies:
- Awareness raising to alter attitudes around GBV through:
- Youth Sensitizations: SEMA offers informational and engaging GBV sensitization workshops.
- Football: GBV messaging is incorporated during football games, football practice, and other events targeting community youth.
- Digital Campaign: The youth receive messaging on GBV related issues and are able to engage in community dialogue about the subject through Facebook, Twitter and the SEMA website.
- SEMA Concerts and events: Talent-based sensitization events are held annually. These events promote positive GBV messaging and engage local student talent in both visual arts and music. SEMA uses the youth’s talents and skills to create activists for social change.
- School-Based SEMA Clubs: SEMA is in the process of rolling out student-led SEMA clubs at schools and universities. SEMA and partners will pull from evidence-based modules in GBV awareness raising and behavior change among both males and females for the strategic facilitation of these clubs in schools throughout Kenya.
Policy and structural changes at campus, school, and community levels, through:
- Student-Led Strategies: SEMA advocates for attitude, behavior, and policy change in campuses, based on student-led strategies that are customized per university. Such strategies focus on policy creation, compliance, and enforcement
- Computer and IT Empowerment for Girls: Through SEMA SAI funds the salary of a new computer teacher at Kariobangi North Girls Secondary School, a public school in the slums of Kariobangi. This school is taking a lead in female empowerment through integration of structural changes within the school, including computer and IT training to improve the self-esteem and skillsets of vulnerable girls.
- Community Policing: SEMA challenges community structures to promote a healthier response to GBV, including community policing and best response mechanisms for survivors of GBV. This includes creation of gender desks within slum communities.
- SEMA Mobile Phone Application: SEMA is working towards establishing a youth-friendly GBV mobile application where survivors can identify their location and needs, receiving a response for referral.
- SEMA mentorship program: We shall be launching the SEMA mentorship program, which links up University students to secondary school students through one on one mentorship.
OUTCOMES of SEMA among targeted populations
- Changed attitudes among the youth around issues of gender
- Improved behaviors among youth in relation to GBV
- Reduced incidence of GBV cases among youth
- Increased involvement among youth of GBV prevention initiatives
- Advanced and enforced gender inclusion policies
- Improved community compliance of gender policies
We accomplish our objectives by making strategic partnerships. Our partners include:
- Strategic Applications International (SAI) and Servant Forge (SF),
- Nazarene Compassionate Organization of Kenya (NCO)
- Kenya Model United Nations
- Kenya Scouts Association
- Kenya Union of Female Student Leaders
- Childline Kenya
- Mathare Youth Sports Association
- Ministry of Gender