Covid-19 A SHADOW PANDEMIC? Reflections from a GBV Youth Champion
My name is Abukayo Murunga, I Just turned 26 years of age. I am a youth Gender-Based Violence (GBV) champion from Busia County, through a program by CCGD and The Border Hub. I am passionate about women and girls and their effective participation in development. I am passionate about championing the rights of girls and […]
My name is Abukayo Murunga, I Just turned 26 years of age. I am a youth Gender-Based Violence (GBV) champion from Busia County, through a program by CCGD and The Border Hub. I am passionate about women and girls and their effective participation in development. I am passionate about championing the rights of girls and women, and particularly keen on identifying policy gaps in the areas of girls, women, and youth in development. I am a change enthusiast and have spent the last five years working in my community mostly tackling challenges around teenage pregnancies, Gender Based Violence, Education, and youth participation in the leadership spaces. Through the partnership between The Border Hub and Collaborative Centre for Gender Development (CCGD), I was selected as a youth GBV champion, alongside other champions to lead a network of young people in Busia County in actualizing the Response, Recovery and Resilience program. The program is focused on increased reporting on cases of Gender-Based Violence and community engagements to ensure reduction of the prevalence within the County. With exactly a week to the ‘16 Days of Activism against all forms of gender-based violence’, l wish to take this opportunity to share my reflections both as a young person and as someone who has witnessed first-hand experience on the negative effects that the Covid-19 pandemic has had in the lives of men and women. My focus is on gender-based violence First let me state clearly, that GBV is no-longer a women’s only issue. Men too are affected, but statistics and the stories do not always bring that out. Furthermore, men are socialized not to speak out, as a result, they are left suffering in silence. When covid-19 was announced a global health pandemic, I understood this to be very serious, however I did not think that what would follow next would be as devastating as I know it now. Extreme measures taken to contain the spread of covid-19 such as shutting down of borders, and lockdowns among others resulted in loss of jobs and income streams. I imagine of households where men were the sole-providers and their source of livelihoods suddenly disrupted by the pandemic that rendered most of them jobless or dramatically reduced their income. Because we live in a society that defines masculinity in the terms of provision, strength, and where vulnerability is a show of weakness, men without a source of income must still go out of their way to sustain their families. This has its own fair share of psychological instability, much so, pressure from the family that results in emotional violence. At the same time, the pandemic has compounded the exposure of girls and women to cases of GBV. They have been exposed to risks such as staying in one space with relatives or community members who may be their potential abusers. Furthermore, girls who have been out of school for months, are less monitored or chaperoned by their parents who are busy, exposing them to risks of sexual gender-based violence. As we begin the 16 Days of Activism, I want to raise awareness to the fact that, men too are victims of gender-based violence, and this narrative needs to be told too. In my role as a GBV champion in Busia, l am looking forward to engaging closely with young men and provide an enabling environment that will empower them share their stories. Let us therefore pull together to identity and respond to policy gaps in GBV and ensure every girl and boy, woman and man, live in a community free of violence against them. Among them is the urgent need for fully equipped safe houses to accommodate survivors of GBV and secondly, is the need to strengthen the capacity and mechanisms to prevent and respond to GBV cases. I therefore call upon young people to join in the campaign against Gender Based Violence by being at the fore front in sensitizing our communities; because like former United States president said: “Change won’t come from the top; change will come from a mobilized and transformed grassroots.”
Abukayo Murunga is GBV Youth Champion, in Busia County, a program of Collaborative Center for Gender and Development in Partnership with The Border Hub.
Her email address is murungam@busiahub.org

4 thoughts on “Covid-19 A SHADOW PANDEMIC? Reflections from a GBV Youth Champion

  1. This is beautiful Abukayo. Our voices go a long way in ensuring a safer society for us and our generation to come. Resilience and focus is what we need from fellow youths and the narrative will take a different shift.

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