Celebrating International Women's Day | ACORD Staff

ACORD secretariat staff based in Nairobi came together to celebrate International Women’s Day. The event began with a role playing exercise where five staff members portrayed various members of the society: a married male government minister under whose ministry gender issues are handled whose has a girlfriend on the side; a high school girl from the Somali community living under strict cultural beliefs; a single male NGO worker working on social justice who has a number of girlfriends; a married housewife whose wealthy husband controls all the decisions in the family; and a single independent career woman who lives the high life.

Also Read: ACORD calls on African governments to hasten implementation of global recommendations for gender equality as world marks International Women’s Day

Various questions were posed to them regarding their influence in policy change or who would be most impacted both positively and negatively in various scenarios. For instance, who would be susceptible to gender-based violence? Who is most likely to be exposed to HIV? Who can access and afford HIV medication? Who is in a position to influence government policy on gender issues? Who does not understand policies relating to women’s empowerment? Who is most likely to face hunger or food insecurity? Who is most likely to face insecurity issues? Who is most likely to face poverty in their older years? Whose voice is heard/considered in decision-making in their home? Who is financially independent?

The “actors” all started on the same line but moved up and down from the line depending on how they were impacted by the scenario. As expected, the high school girl ended up many strides behind the others.

Participants then discussed the implications of the various scenarios on our society. It emerged that cultural beliefs greatly impact how decision makers respond to gender issues and how domestic violence is not restricted to the income bracket of the household.

Also Read: ACORD’s work on women’s rights in Rwanda | IWD 2015

The issue of how organisation’s handle issues of staff involved in domestic violence also came up. Are there policies in place in the work place to discipline male staff involved in abusing their spouses? The definition of violence was also challenged: if a man is cheating on his wife, is that a form of violence?

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