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Have you at some point in life asked yourself, Am I worth it? I know it is an easy question to come by in our jobs, relationships, personal goals and ambitions. Self-worth is a feeling of confidence in yourself that you are a good and a useful person. Everyone needs to belong. Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs theory postulates that the third basic human need after physiological and safety needs is the need for love and belonging. Naturally, as human beings, we often involuntarily seek approval from the people in our lives, our peers, and our communities, in a bid to satisfy our need to belong. The self-worth Theory (Covington,1992, 1998; Covington & Beery, 1976) views the self as the central axis of human existence and the anchor as well as a source of meaning for one’s beliefs aspirations and deeds. Self-worth theory suggests that individuals strive to give their lives meaning by seeking the approval of others (Wentzel & Miele, 2016) We need to be seen as capable able and competent

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Some Gender Based Violence acts are perpetuated by Harmful Traditional Practices (HTP). Harmful traditional practices like Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) , early and forced marriage are still being practiced by several communities in Africa and across the world. These backward and barbaric practices are perpetuated under the notion of preserving culture. HTPs are deeply rooted in the social, political, and economic structures of these communities. Several girls and women from such communities have undergone a lot of physical and emotional pain as well as watched tradition wash away their dreams and ambitions. Sadly, in as much as these practices are attributed to the patriarchal norms of the African culture, Both men and women take part in the practice. For instance, the cut is majorly carried by women. According to UN over 200 million women have undergone FGM globally.

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According to a study carried by National Crime Research Centre in 2014 it was estimated 14% of Kenyan women and 6% of men aged between 15 and 49 have gone through a sexual violence ordeal at least once within their lifetime. Gender Based Violence is a global nightmare that has immensely shuttered dreams, fostered extreme issues with self-esteem, self-worth and caused a lot of emotional, psychological, and physical pain. The fact that the highest percentage of perpetrators are people quite close to the victims beats logic because naturally we expect people close to us to care for us the most. We therefore have to come to terms with the horrible truth that even people in our support system and inner circles stand equal or better chances to commit this act of crime to us.

Gender Based Violence acts can happen anywhere, even in places we think are safe. In 2018, a teenage girl-15 year old was sexually assaulted at Moi girls high school Nairobi by an alleged stranger. A school setting, home, office or even church are places we like to think of as safe places but still lots of Gender Based Violence acts take place within such spaces.

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“It’s beautiful” Chris (pseudo name) broke the silence. I went “That’s what Killmonger told T’Challa. Black Panther was legendary” “Yeah he was right, nothing beats sunsets in Africa” True to these words you may agree with there is just something about Sunsets in Africa, right? Chris and I found great value in our evening walks. They were not only good for our mental health and well being but also a space where we would talk about things we were struggling with at the time. “Since we are quoting movies then, Look bro, I feel life is this and I want this” (Illustrating he wanted bigger) “Well, that is what Harvey Specter told Mike Ross” I shot back. “Dude! you know your movies” “Suits is totally worth everyone’s time!” At this moment I knew this conversation was about to take a bit a serious angle. We spent the rest of evening having a conversation about “The Tyranny of the Should” as Dr. Meg Jay states it in her book “The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter and How to Make The Most of Them Now” we talked about how the things we were struggling with, about what we should have achieved, possessed or done by that time in our lives. By the end of the walk we resorted to seeking psycho-social support to shed more light on how we, like most young people in their twenties could handle the pressure of adulting.

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The #CampusMeToo campaign was launched on 19th November, 2019 at the University of Nairobi, main campus. This saw student leaders from various Kenyan universities grace the occasion and asking other students to sign the petition for the change and implementation of policies around sexual harassment in higher institutions. The campaign comes weeks after a BBC documentary titled ‘Sex for Grades’ exposed how lecturers in West African institutions of higher learning preyed on their students.

In a research conducted by ActionAid Kenya, out of 1,015 students 49% female and 24% male have experienced sexual harassment from a staff member at their institution. 66% of the incidences were by a lecturer. Many of the victims of sexual harassment do not tell anyone. 38% female and 33% male students think it would be unlikely that the institution will take a report of sexual harassment seriously.

There were creative performances from University of Nairobi Travelling Theatre (UNTT) and Daystar University and a panel discussion on sexual harassment in higher institutions where students were encouraged to use whatever means they have to speak out on cases in Universities involving sexual harassment.

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The petition which will be delivered to the Ministry of Education has 5 demands and a call for the Ministry to commit to ensuring higher learning institutions uphold the laws on sexual harassment outlined in the sexual harassment outlined in the Sexual Offences Act Section 23 and 24. The following are the demands in the petition:

  1. Facilitate all newly enrolled students to watch an educational resource on sexual harassment, and make sexual harassment a topic in every induction for newly enrolled students.
  2. Conduct a yearly training for all staff on sexual harassment. At the end of the training, all staff must sign a standardized code of conduct and ethics.
  3. Appoint a Gender Officer with the obligation to: facilitate training and outreach on sexual harassment; provide resources and support to victims of sexual harassment; and develop, disseminate, implement and review relevant policies on sexual harassment.
  4. Establish an investigative committee that students can approach when they have received unfair or missing marks due to instances of sexual harassment from university lecturers or staff.
  5. Incorporate Demands 1 – 4 into its sexual harassment policy, publish an annual report detailing the progress on achieving the objectives, and implement a sexual harassment assessment survey every two years to monitor the issue.

You can sign the petition here https://sdg-ambassadors.com/petition/

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The campaign involves Vunja Kalabash, ActionAid, UN Women, and Imara TV.