On Tuesday, November 19, 2019, The University of Nairobi joined Action Aid Kenya and UN women in the launch of a campaign against Sexual harassment in Higher learning institutions.
The student-led campaign saw students from all universities in Kenya participate in petitioning for policies set in higher learning institutions for both students and staff to adhere to. This campaign aims to raise awareness of the ill vice that has plagued most students in higher learning institutions and has been the cause of hopelessness, depression and suicide among the youth.
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.
Among the student demands that will be presented to the Ministry of Education in the petition are; make sexual harassment a topic during induction and orientation, conduct a yearly training for all staff on sexual harassment, appoint a gender officer with the obligation to facilitate training and outreach on sexual harassment, establish an investigative committee that students can approach when they have missing marks due to instances of sexual harassment and incorporate these demands in a sexual harassment policy.
In a panel discussion, Gender experts, a UoN lecturer and students emphasized on the need to use the tools that the students have to speak up, to shame the perpetrators of sexual harassment, to use their phones and social media, to work on preventive measures rather than wait for it to be too late. The students encouraged each other, that what begun in that auditorium will indeed bear fruits; that policy makers will listen to their plea and act to protect them against the perpetrators of this heinous acts.
Student leaders from each institution were introduced to the students for purposes of continuing the discussion within their institutions, raising awareness, supporting each other and working towards preventing sexual harassment in their circles.
Students from Daystar University performed a contemporary dance and UoN travelling theatre performed a play highlighting the plight of students faced with harassment.