Examining Online Gender-Based Violence on Female Politicians and Leaders in Kenya

By Florence Awino and Neema Mujesia

On 5th October 2022, KICTANet attended a workshop organized by Pollicy in conjunction with CREAW Kenya to assess the impact of online gender-based violence on female politicians and leaders. This meeting, moderated by Irene Mwendwa of Pollicy, had four core objectives:

  • To create a roadmap to the theme of the 67th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW67)
  • To create an advocacy plan that mitigates online gender-based violence
  • To discuss the role of the Kenyan tech and internet governance partners in the concluded 2022 General Elections
  • To compile the common hate speech terms in local languages used against women in politics and leadership

The participants were drawn from women political leaders namely Betty Kirui Murgor and Fatuma Namatsi who were MP aspirants. Murgor is a woman living with albinism, who narrated her experience on the campaign trail. She faced sustained online attacks of gendered disinformation and harassment on her campaign WhatsApp group. Attendees discussed what steps Betty, and other women leaders can take to prepare for their online campaigns in the next elections.

Women leaders are encouraged to develop digital resilience by taking the following steps:

  • Beef up the security of social media accounts, emphasizing setting up a 2-Factor Authentication process.
  • Be mindful of what they post online, especially the kind of photos
  • Reporting every instance of abuse when it happens
  • Know how to conduct fact-checks.
  • Have only trusted people to handle their communication devices when necessary

Challenges In Automatic Hate Speech Detection for Kenya and Africa

The detection mechanisms of hate speech in social media play a crucial role in curbing OGBV. However, the tools used in the detection are mostly English-based, and the translation leaves much to be desired. Therefore, attendees formed groups to compile the hate speech and insults in the local languages they witnessed directed to women aspirants online.

Research Findings and the Way Forward

  • Various factors prevent women from exploring their full potential when utilizing digital platforms.
  • Women tend to have less economic power, are hindered by cultural beliefs, lack confidence, and sometimes the digital system feels intimidating.
  • Civil society is called upon to provide tech training to women aspirants. We can also advocate for the improvement of tech systems in Africa.
  • Lastly, address how local digital content is regulated. Women politicians and leaders should combine the power of online and physical campaigns to maximize their presence.

KICTANet offers an online module on how to tackle OGBV. Find the course here.

Florence Awino is an ICTSs Accessibility and Equality for PwDs Fellow at KICTANet. Neema Mujesia is an Intern at the KICTANet Gender Program.

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9 Comments

  1. Purity Gachukia

    No how this knowledge and information is trickled down the grassroot women and tend to value the knownhow to the know what

    Reply
  2. Eunice Malelu

    Kictanet is doing amazing work. Personally, since I joined the trainings I can confidently express my self without any fear of intimidation, because I fully understand the Dos and Don’ts of digital systems.
    Thank you

    Reply
  3. Catherine Wekesa

    Hello ,am Catherine Wekesa vied for a wrep sit in Nairobi kindly would very much like be part of this group preparing for next 2027 ,thank you

    Reply
  4. Minnie Kahara

    Apart from most women lacking confidence in themselves as leaders, it is very necessary to have more trainings so they can see their value and support each other during campaigns women being the majority voters….Other women should not feel intimidated by those offering themselves for political seats because a win for one, two, three women is a win for women

    Reply
  5. CECILIA NGANGA

    Great I’m Cecilia Nganga I was also a candidate really we faced alot, let’s keep on moving

    Reply
  6. Millicent Atieno

    ThIs is a great initiative. I vied for Nyali Member of Parliament.
    I will be happy to receive links in future.
    Warm Regards
    Millicent Atieno

    Reply
  7. Leonidah Marucha

    Since I joined the KICTANet programmes ,I have really learnt much about the Internet.
    Looking forward to learn more and ofcourse I share the information to my circle of interaction.
    Thanks KICTANET.

    Reply
  8. Eunice

    Gaining alot from this online matters.. keep us on toes

    Reply

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