I am Generation Equality: Kathy Gitau, tech-violence student activist

Billions of people across the world stand on the right side of history every day. They speak up, take a stand, mobilize, and take big and small actions to advance women’s rights. This is Generation Equality.

Date: Wednesday, February 26, 2020

I am Generation Equality
Kathy Gitau, 22, was elected as Vice President of Maseno University, Kisumu Kenya, in 2019. Photo: UN Women/Luke Horswell
Kathy Gitau, 22, was elected as Vice President of Maseno University, Kisumu Kenya, in 2019. Photo: UN Women/Luke Horswell
 

How to tackle with tech-violence:

  • Learn more about cyber security and tech assisted violence
  • Safeguard your personal information on social media and the internet
  • Icon- a girl raises her arm
  • Avoid/ remove yourself from unhealthy online conversations

Men and boys need to be part of the conversation. When they come on board, and say “yes we are men and we support women’s rights, it gives women an upper hand to be able to feel like they have a louder voice"

I am Generation Equality because…

Having witnessed violence first-hand, it made me obsessed with fighting for this conversation [on equality]. I witnessed my mum suffer violence and its always made me feel bad – being discriminated because she is a woman.  Growing up didn’t get any simpler - I wanted to become Vice-President of the Student Union in Maseno University. But as a woman you are told you need to do this and that, sleep around with men to get favours and such things – it makes you lose focus. It makes you think ‘let’s call it quits.’ I don’t want anyone to suffer the same things I have.

Tech-based violence: the latest threat to women and girls

Technology based violence is violence and discrimination propagated through technology such as cyber bullying and cyber-attacks. People can hide behind pseudo accounts and names. This problem has become global because everyone is connected by technology and the audience is everywhere. I think it has been a growing problem over the years due to the existing threats faced by women and an idea that they are the weaker sex.

The UN Women Knowledge Seminar on Role of Student Leadership in Ending Technology Assisted Violence Against Women and Girls (TVAW) in Universities and the Academia held on22nd of July 2019 provided us with a great platform that we never had before. It enabled us gain tacit knowledge to champion for women’s rights and gender equality with the digital spaces. The seminar, which was co-hosted by UN Women and Maseno University Institute of Gender Studies-led by Dr. Karen Nyambura, brought together over 70 student leaders from 30 universities from across Kenya. It also gave us an upper hand with men by helping us join forces to discuss and reason together on ending not only technology assisted violence against women and girls but also all forms of violence.
 
[In Maseno University] we’ve created support groups for individuals that have experienced this type of discrimination as well as reaching out to existing clubs and associations to raise awareness. Through our Student Council we have also reached out to high schools in Western Kenya, mentoring students on how to combat this type of discrimination.

 

Finding a voice

I think the major issues for women in Kenya are employment opportunities and political positions. Previously they’ve been put out for men and many women feel they do not stand a chance to get to that point.  Also, many female students have lacked a voice, so we need champions for these issues. Without a voice, you’re even more vulnerable to suffer from discrimination.

Men and boys need to be part of the conversation. When they come on board, and say “yes we are men and we support women’s rights, it gives women an upper hand to be able to feel like they have a louder voice. When they support events and activities, they become part of the solution.

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“...many female students have lacked a voice..."

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