The Kwale Women of Faith were at the center of a strong campaign in Kwale County to fight sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV). These women, as icons of courage and empathy, shattered stereotypes, dismantled barriers, and build a more just and safe community for everybody. From pulpits to the streets; their fight began not in grand pronouncements, but in intimate gatherings within churches, mosques, and temples. They ignited conversations, their voices echoing with verses that condemned violence and championed dignity.
The silence surrounding SGBV, often fueled by shame and cultural norms, began to crumble. Mothers confided in daughters, friends found solace in shared experiences, and a collective outrage simmered in Matuga, Msambweni, Kinango and Lunga sub counties in Kwale County. This newfound solidarity fueled the Women of Faith, who took their fight public. Marches resonated through the streets, rallies pulsed with righteous anger, and petitions demanded action from local authorities. Their chants, woven with faith and justice, became impossible to ignore.
In 2024, a landmark victory was achieved; the Kwale County Anti-SGBV Act was passed. Some organizations like Naya, Coalition on Violence against Women (COVAW), and Sauti ya Wanawake spearheaded the passing of the bill . Kwale County Government organized meetings with the CSO’s FBO’s, and like-minded individuals so as to strengthen collaboration towards gender responsive policies. The Kwale Women of Faith Network members through Inter-Religious Council of Kenya led by the chairlady Immaculate Mungai were among some of the like-minded partners invited to come up with ideas to help in the passing of the bill .The Women of Faith knew this was just the beginning of implementing a crucial but yet a sensitive issue. The women have been transformed into watchdogs, ensuring shelters are in place for victims , support systems are established, and perpetrators held accountable.
The impact of the women of faith have rippled beyond Kwale County. Their story, shared through workshops and conferences, has inspired other counties to embark on a similar journey. The Women of Faith in Kwale County are leveraging on their religious communities to raise awareness about SGBV. Through sermons, workshops, and community events, the women have educated both men and women on the importance of recognizing and addressing the root causes of SGBV. By fostering open conversations within their congregations, they are dismantling the stigma surrounding this sensitive issue.
Women of Faith in Kwale County are actively collaborating with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and local authorities to strengthen their efforts against sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) because they understand the value of teamwork. With the help of institutional assistance and grassroots efforts, they hope to develop a comprehensive approach that considers the complex nature of gender-based violence.
A powerful force is driving the battle against SGBV in Kwale County as Kwale Women of Faith member are using their convictions as motivation to bring about constructive change. They are ending the cycle of violence and building a community where everyone, regardless of gender, may prosper through activism, and support. These women’s unwavering dedication and continued unity has provided a strong message in creating awareness against SGBV.
By Janet Mwende