I’m a twin, one of twelve children. We are six sets of twins: six boys and six girls. One of my sisters had a set of triplets too! My twin sister was a trained nurse. One day, she came home to my village to visit my mother who was ailing. But along the way she was gang raped by five men, strangled, and killed. The village decided that according to our culture, a woman was only worth fourteen goats and that the perpetrators should pay this as a form of punishment. So, the men paid the goats as a fine for raping and killing her. I refused to accept the village’s ruling about the brutal attack and murder of my sister. I engaged the police and asked for an investigation and today the perpetrators are serving life sentences.
That’s when I abandoned journalism and realized that the world needed a different conversation with men and boys. We need to talk to men and boys about gender-based violence, masculinities, and negative social stereotypes. I wanted to engage men, not as perpetrators, but as partners, because there are many good men around the world. However, the good men have kept quiet and allowed the bad men to represent the whole gender.
So, twelve years ago I started a comprehensive program that would engage all stakeholders— men, women, boys, and girls—not just for gender justice, but also for peace and conflict mitigation, and advancing human rights. Now we have programs running in refugee camps, conflict zones, prisons, universities, marginalized communities, and rural populations all over Kenya.
And our model is working very well with substantial impacts. We have partners all across East Africa and our work has been recognized through several awards. For example, were awarded by the African Union as an organization leading in peace building, conflict mitigation, and justice. In 2014 we won the global award on intercultural dialogue sponsored by the European Union for our work on girls’ education and women’s rights in development. In 2015 we received the UNHCR commendation for designing interventions that are best practice in the world. We were subsequently the 2015 Avon Global Communications Award winners and also 2016 Global Intercultural Innovation Awardee.