I am the only surviving member of the family, my 3 brothers and 2 sisters are all dead, I ended up getting married at 14, my husband abandoned me when I had my 3rd child. People have tried to defile my children, I feel so scared and helpless, that is why I am hard on my children. I love them, I do not want them to end up like me, I really do not know what to do!
This was a statement from a parent to one of the girls at Polycom, the mother had been so brutal to her, always abusing her physically and alot of insults. Such frustrations expose girls to people who take advantage of them. This particular girl had run away a few time and then referred to Polycom by her teachers.
Polycom organized a mental health training for 30 mothers in January 2022 to help them deal with mental health challenges. More forums will be conducted to create good relationship between these mothers and their daughters.
One in three women worldwide experience physical or sexual violence mostly by an intimate partner. Violence against women and girls is a human rights violation.
Since the outbreak of COVID-19, emerging data and reports from those on the front lines, have shown that all types of violence against women and girls, particularly domestic violence, has intensified.
This is the Shadow Pandemic growing amidst the COVID-19 crisis and we need a global collective effort to stop it. As COVID-19 cases continue to strain health services, essential services, such as domestic violence shelters and helplines, have reached capacity. More needs to be done to prioritize addressing violence against women in COVID-19 response and recovery efforts.
Everyone has a role to play on ending gender based violence and ensuring the safety of women and girls. In urban informal settlements, like Kibera, evidence of this is teenage pregnancy shown by data at various health institutions. As an organization 300 girls have been reached through mentorship sessions (specifically supported by GlobalGiving) as well as a larger number through radio sessions to sensitize the community on their role in protecting and promoting the safety of girls and young women. During the mentorship session girls are given free sanitary towels to reduce possibilities of them offering sex in exchange for sanitary towels.
Women and girls already face multiple forms of discrimination and by virtue of being teenage moms this discrimination multiplies, and the ultimate results is what we see in the world now. Teenage pregnancy limits a girl’s ability to access education and employment and are often accompanied by sexual or domestic violence. Girls have little or no access to sexual and reproductive health (SRH) information and services.
It is however important to note that teenage pregnancies occur and regardless some of these teenage moms are still students, daughters and now parents. This project allowed for teenage moms to be educated on their SRH rights and available services by engaging them in an interactive mentorship program. Service-providers will be trained and supported to improve the accessibility and quality of their provision.
"I had always struggled to access pads or even tissuer to use during my period, mostly I would use rugs or cut a piece from my parents matress, my periods have always brought alot of psychological suffering to me. One time it started while in class, I was scared, I didn't know what to do I was also too scared to tell the teacher or even my friends, I had never talked about my monthly period with anyone. During breaktime, I waited until everyone had left, sneeked and picked the rug that was used to clean the blackboad, I then went to the toiled and use it to secure myself. It was a little late though, my skirt had been stained so I have to turn the back part to my side, I was so scared throughout the day. I ca't believe that this is a problem of the past, that I dont worry at all about my period and that I am not scared, thank you Polycom for my pads.
This is just one of the many stories we receive from the girls living in Kibera through the Talking Boxes Platform. A well wisher, our donor through GlobalGiving Lois Harris from Australia has managed to support Polycom Development Project in putting up a Pads Factory in Kibera, We have been able to find a solution to period poverty for more than 2000 girls in Kibera every month.
A special appreciation to Lois and all donors who have been able to support our woek in Kibera and beyond. We are looking forward to opening doors for the first every Goodwill store in Kenya to reduce poverty among adolescent girls in Kibera to reduce their vulnerability. More about out work on www.polycomgirls.or.ke.
2020 has been an interesting year all around the world. As Polycom team we never relented in our work in the field. Despite the pandemic we stood tall and voiced our concerns for women and girls in informal settlements.
World Urban Forum 10-2020
Polycom Development Project as the Chair of SDG 11 on Safe, Resilient and Sustainable cities under the SDG Kenya Forum participated in the 10th World Urban Forum (WUF 10). The event took place in Abu Dhabi from 8-13 February 2020 with over 13,000 participants from around the world. Polycom in collaboration with Huairou Commission hosted a networking event which attracted 45 participants.
6TH SESSION OF THE AFRICA REGIONAL FORUM ON SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
In collaboration with Global Call to Action Against Poverty GCAP, Polycom attended the 6th session of the African Regional Forum on Sustainable Development in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe from 24th to 27th February, 2020. Under the Leave No Women Behind, Jane Adhiambo Ndenga of ANDY represented women with disabilities living in Kenyan slums, she shared the challenges faced by women living with disabilities in Kenya and presented their demands for action.
BEIJING+25 ‘QUEENS’ – PROMOTING GENERATION EQUALITY
As the world celebrates 25 years since the Women Conference in Beijing China, Polycom noticed absence of young women and adolescent girls voices in the Review Paper and approached Womankind to support in filling the gap. The eight month long project that focused on mentoring girls aged 18 to 25 years was wrapped up in 2020. During the project period, some Queens were sponsored to attend the Beijing platform for Action Africa Review Conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in October 2019, they were able to attend the International Conference on Population Development- ICPD25 in November 2019, The Adolescent Girls Conference on SRH among many other platforms. Some of the young women mobilized are currently mentors to adolescent girls, as they ensure that their voices as young women remain vital in Women Rights Conversations.
THE PADS FACTORY CONTINUE TO CHANGE LIVES
POLYCOM started making disposable sanitary towels IN 2019, the pads are distributed freely to the adolescent girls, thanks to Lois Harris who has made this dream come true for us by fully funding the project so Kibera Women and Girls can access sanitary towels with no worries; and that the women working in the company are taken care of. Young women are happy to mentor the adolescent especially during this covid 19 period. Long live Kibera Pad Company.
IT IS PARTNERSHIP FOR GIRLS – THANKS CATHERINE MUMMA
As COVID made life tougher for girls in the slums, a friend to Polycom Development Project, Mrs Catherine Mumma reached out to The Nairobi County Women Representative, Hon Esther Passaris who donated sanitary towels in April 2020, to Polycom Development for distribution This was a kind gesture that was taken with great gratitude from the Organization and the adolescent girls.
TOGETHER WE FIGHT COVID 19
During the COVID 19 season, times have become unbearable for most locals in Kibera
POLYCOM was among the organizations who received support from UWEZA Foundation and UN Women to train, equip and mentor 10 women to make masks and distribute to community members, including the school children when schools opened. The women are now skilled and connected to Kenya Tailors Association for more empowerment.
Other partners donated, food stuff, water barrels, detergents, handwashing stations, just to mention but a few. We continue to enjoy this great partnerships, feel welcome.
Polycom started exercises and mental healthcare in June through support from Vital Voices, the project has grown into a continuous staff mentorship and self-care especially during the pandemic. The project is focusing on creating awareness on various aspects of health both psychological and physical.
HIGH LEVEL POLITICAL FORUM (HLPF)
2020 witnessed a virtual High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) on Sustainable Development. POLYCOM was among the few organizations invited to witness the live virtual event when Kenya was making her presentation. We as Polycom are proud to be leading SDG 11 that seeks to make cities inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable.
In response to the rising numbers of teenage pregnancies POLYCOM started mobilizing and mentoring these mums. An awareness creation program dubbed “LindaBINTI” was as well launched in collaboration with Woman’s Hope.
COMMUNITY RESILIENCE PROGRAMS
Through the SIDA/Huairou commission’s Community Resilience fund, Polycom was able to establish learning gardens, rehabilitate land by refilling quarry mines and planting trees, support community land committee and organize various stakeholders Assemblies. Women have been supported to take part in public participation and Local to Local Dialogues.
Polycom Development and Umande Trust have teamed up to run a campaign on sex for water within Kibera Slums. The overall project objective is to contribute to a reduction in the water and sanitation related sexual exploitation of women and girls in informal settlements.
FOR ADOLESCENT GIRLS
Pink Energy of Kenya Electricity Generating Company; Through support from UNFPA, conducted a session to enhance their role in promotion of gender equality and empowerment of women and girls on areas of Sexual Reproductive Health Rights and Female Genital mutilation.
Womankind Mentorship: Polycom continue to map sexual harassment of adolescent girls through the Talking Boxes. Contents will support a policy paper for advocacy purpose.
UNFPA Mentorship: When school closed the only place where girls could access a SAFE SPACE is at Polycom Development Project, through UNFPA’s support, Polycom reached over 7000 adolescent girls between March and December 2020.
Boys Forums: There can never be a complete society without conversations with boys/men, Polycom organized forums for over 300 boys lead by young men. This was a real milestone for the year 2020.
Teachers Forums: The schools were closed, but Polycom saw the need of engaging teachers as watchdogs for the children especially welfare, several forums engaged the teachers in the conversations.
5TH URBAN THINKERS CAMPUS
For the 5th year running, Polycom led local partners namely, Winam Grassroots, MLAHRA, Rural Women Network, Shibuye Community Health Workers, and other partners under the banner of Huairou Commission to host Wamama Tunauwezo 5 in Kisumu City. This is in preparations for meaningful engagement during the upcoming AfriCities Summit in 2021. This year’s campus was graced by Cabinet Secretary in The Ministry of Devolution and ASAL’s, Hon. Eugene Wamalwa.
International Womens Day 2020: On 8th March the International Women’s Day,POLYCOM hosted a National Radio Station live with women from various slum settlements and the local leaders to discuss Leaving No Woman Behind. Significantly present, was a member of the County Assembly, and a representative from the Parliamentary Caucus on SDGs.
Global Action Day: Led by women with disabilities, Polycom hosted and outdoor event on 25th September to share the Charter of demands.
International Day of the Girlchild: On 11th October, the International Day of the Girlchild, Polycom hosted a girls talk led by the Mentors/Queens, a pledge was shared on girls talking responsibility of their actions.
16 Days of Activism 2020: It was 16for16 as Polycom embarked on a 16 day spree to address and create awareness on various forms of GBV. Polycom collaborated with over 43 civil society organizations
The Murals: In partnership with Amani Kibera and SDG Kenya Forum Polycom has painted murals to create awareness on the SDGs and Gender Based Violence. SDGs in focus mostly is SDG 5 and SDG 11.
Women are affected more than men by the social and economic effects of infectious-disease outbreaks. They bear the brunt of care responsibilities as schools close and family members fall ill. They are at greater risk of domestic violence and are disproportionately disadvantaged by reduced access to sexual- and reproductive-health services. With the current Pandemic, schools have been closed and various countries and states have put in place measures to prevent more damage.
It is however unknown when lives will go back to normal and all projects and activities have to be adjusted to reduce the risk of infection as well as comply with government regulations. As an organisation partnering with schools, we have had girls walk into our offices helpless, because here in Kibera, schools serve as a safe space, a space where atleast adolescent girls or children can atleast get one meal a day, maybe water and access to a toilet. with schools closed and teenage pregnancies on the rise, parents and guardians loosing their jobs and levels of depression high, gils have been left vulnerable. This project has aided in providing for 40 pregnant teenagers basic necessities including, soap, sanitizers and meals as well as provision of sanitary towels to 3000 adolescent girls.
Even as we strive to serve the community, the current pandemic has had impact on individual lives and therefore the mental health wellness sessions for staff to better aid our interventions and profesionalism and overally to serve better. You have helped lift a fraction of weight from a vulnerable girl!
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