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Breaking Barriers of SGBV in Embakasi; A story of Rev. Josephine Kambua

Breaking Barriers of SGBV in Embakasi; A story of Rev. Josephine Kambua

Embakasi is considered part of Nairobi’s Eastlands area, lying to the south-east of Nairobi County.   As per the 2019 census, Embakasi had a population of 988,808, accounting for more than 22% of the total population of the county, and a population density of 11,460/km2, making it the most populous of the sub-counties in Nairobi City County.The large and fast-growing population is a contributor to the rise of informal settlements such as Korogocho, Mathare, and Soweto. A multiplicity of factors such as a youth bulge, and widespread unemployment especially among the youth is a trigger to insecurity.   Police records in the area show recurrent cases of theft, assault, armed robbery, trading in Small Arms and light weapons (SALW), and Sexual Gender Based Violence (SGBV) like rape, carjacking, and kidnapping. While crime statistics show that men commit higher crime levels than women, incidents of crime affect women more. Women end up as victims of crime or end up as widows in the event their spouses lose their lives due to crime-related activities.

It is this harsh environment that inspired Rev. Kambua to begin working with young girls in the Embakasi area over 15 years ago. Her goal has been to use her position and influence as a religious leader to create an environment where young girls and women can feel safe from violence and go about their day-to-day activities. Having been a victim of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence herself, she finds value in using her voice to speak against SGBV and mobilize other women to act against it in their localities. 

When the Embakasi Women of Faith Network was formed in 2021, Rev. Kambua was elected as the first chair lady of the network. Having gone through several capacity-building activities on various topics such as advocacy, SGBV, and self-care, the network has undertaken dozens of SGBV advocacy drives in the informal settlements around Embakasi. Through these drives, the network raises awareness on SGBV particularly how to protect themselves and those around them and procedures to be taken in case one becomes a victim.

Rev. Kambua says the Embakasi Women of Faith Network has given a bigger platform to continue transforming society. She now has a team of 40 members with whom she can reach a larger audience.  Working with the Embakasi Interfaith Network has also offered linkage with the security teams enabling quick response whenever needed.

She looks forward to continuing expanding the network and remain available to young girls and women who need assistance.

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