Refugee Women standing for Peace in Kenya during World Women's Day
Many of the refugee women in Kenya have been through difficult experiences and are still struggling in a foreign country. But they feel grateful for Kenyans welcoming them after they fled their own country. Refugee women wanted to do something to support the Kenyan displaced women. Different organisations in Nairobi came together, including African Refugee Programme (ARP), Refugee Consortium of Kenya (RCK), Windle Trust and JRS, to support the initiative of these refugee women. For Women's Day, celebrated every year on the 8th of March, the agencies decided to visit an IDP camp in Limuru with several refugee women as a first step to bring the women all together.
On Friday 7 March, representatives of the different agencies went with around 7 refugee women from different nationalities went to Kirathimo, some 30 km from Nairobi, where there is an IDP camp still hosting 215 displaced Kenyan women. The displaced people have come from places such as Eldoret and Burnt Forest where problems erupted after the election results.
The message the refugee women were bringing was "Women as Peacemakers". A Rwandese refugee woman spoke about her own experience of fleeing her home and how she coped with this difficult situation. Furthermore, she addressed the issue of peace and how women can help the process by coming together. Information was also given about SGBV and the new Kenyan Sexual Offences Act.
Some of the women in the IDP camp have started self-help groups whereby they make several things and then try to sell them in order for them to have a small income despite being displaced. JRS contributed several materials such as wool and knitting needles. JRS really welcomed the initiative from refugee women and will continue to support more interaction between refugees and the local communities.