Sixteen Days of Activism against Gender Violence

Hand over the mic to: Ali Dabaso, Kenya

A Community Male Champion of Isiolo county, in the northern part of Kenya

Date: Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Hand over the mic to: Ali Dabaso, Community Male Champion, Kenya
Ali, on his way to one of his sensitization meetings. Photo: UN Women Kennedy Okoth

orange-quoteHe charged at me with a knife as I tried to defend protect the wife from the physical violence he was being subjected to. To him, he did not understand why I was intervening as domestic quarrels are seen to be private. Culturally, domestic issues are often assumed to be the jurisdiction of the family and any external interference is always met with hostility.

My business as a garbage collector in the community has over years, exposed me to the happenings within homes. I take advantage of it to sensitize people, especially men and boys, on gender-based violence and their role in changing cultural stereotypes. I do three shifts a week, and in so doing, I engage with families within the approximately 50 homesteads area that I cover.

It has not been an easy journey trying to deconstruct the perception of masculinity in the community that is heavily cultural. Customs and norms have always not favoured women and girls. This leads to gender-based violence, including physical violence, female genital mutilation and teen marriages have always thrived.

Over several months, I have further gained the trust of community leaders as I am known by almost all homesteads." 

UN Women Works with grassroots community actors to promote positive masculinity towards ending of forms of violence and discrimination

38-year-old, Ali Dabaso is a resident of Isiolo county in the northern part of Kenya and serves as a male champion. Cases of Female genital mutilation and physical violence are common in this region and heavily tied to cultural norms, traditions and beliefs that have disadvantaged women and girls.

UN Women, through the Reproductive Maternal, Newborn, child and Adolescent health (RMNCAH) programme, is currently running a male engagement campaign implemented by the Male Alliance umbrella of organizations. The primary focus is to demystify masculinity and empower men to be responders rather than perpetrators of gender-based violence. The programme targets six counties in Kenya, where cases of Gender-Based Violence are highest.