Putting men on the frontline of advocacy against sexual abuse

Posted by: haki_mashinani
Category: hmk


While many people will opt to spend their off duty days far from the work, a group of male champions in Naivasha were doing the opposite.

On this particular day, these male champions from different flower farms in Naivasha were seated in one of the rooms in Kiandege Ward to de educated on how to advance the rights of women workers.

James Obonyo is one of these 30 male champions waiting patiently for the training to begin. The training, organized by Haki Mashinani, a Kenyan non-profit organization that seeks to give legal and socio-economic empowerment to populations living at the grassroots, is on sexual harassment.

Obonyo notes that the training seeks to address issues of the rights of women workers and sexual harassment in the flower farms.

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“I have to make time to learn because I believe that information is power,” says Obonyo, “I believe with the knowledge gained and as a shop steward, I can make a difference in tackling sexual harassment and other issues related to women human rights


While over 80 per cent of flower farm workers are women, they continue to struggle to enjoy their rights and to have the companies offer an equal playing field with their male counterparts.

Some of the major challenges include patriarchy that manifests during hiring and promotion opportunities, with higher value being placed on men compared to women.

Evelyne Kagia, Programme Officer at Haki Mashinani, notes that sensitising male champions to understand the importance of valuing women and how to address issues that affect women is critical in changing such attitudes and perception towards women. This is crucial in both formal and informal relationships.

Haki Mashinani, one of the Women@Work partners, has been running initiatives to create an environment that is safe for women both at the workplace and at home.

The organization does this by educating men to be aware of the rights of women, not to perpetrate violence, and to speak out on behalf of the women.

“We believe that men have a role to play in addressing the rights of women but for this to happen, we need to dismantle gender stereotypes that disempower women and expose them to sexual harassment in the workplace,” Evelyne Kagia

“We are strategically engaging men working in flower farms to support this initiative. We also train male champions during the one and half hour sessions to speak out for women who might be afraid to talk for themselves in cases of abuses.”

According to Oliver Charo, one of the trainers at the workshop, this intervention is designed to encourage men to speak out on gender rights and to acknowledge that change begins with them.

“We have realised that most men are by standers and we have to bring to their attention that these issues affect them directly or indirectly. For instance, a woman disempowered at work will be unproductive even at home,” added Charo.

He notes that engagement of male workers is important if the initiative is to yield fruits as they have to see their role and value in protecting women from sexual abuses.

Haki Mashinani hopes to increase the number of male champions like Obonyo who will confidently and openly speak out on the rights of women in flower farms.

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“We are training men to become ambassadors of change and to take notice of their own environment,” says Kagia.

Salome Odera, Executive Director of Haki Mashinani said they have trained in excess of 300 male champions against sexual harassment since 2017. They also try to make the trainings flexible to be able to reach as many men as possible.

“The time of these meetings have to be staggered since these workers don’t have time to attend workshops that one or two days. Most of the training content is therefore broken down in bits to accommodate the limited time.”

Odera acknowledges that this intervention will take some time to bear fruit because change of attitude and perceptions takes time.

She is however hopeful that the initiative will, with time, start reaping the benefits of these engagements.

Author: haki_mashinani
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