Video campaign launched to combat online harassment and abuse of female politicians

Video campaign launched to combat online harassment and abuse of female politicians.

Kenya Women Parliamentary Association (KeWoPa) has launched a video campaign urging people to avoid and stop online abuse and harassment, as well as physical violence against female politicians.

The #HeshimuDada campaign is a collaboration between KeWoPa and Google Kenya, among others.

The short video campaign (available on the KeWoPa YouTube channel) features voices from various female politicians and leaders in the country, including Prof Margaret Kobia, the CS for Public Service, Gender, Senior Citizen Affairs, and Special Programmes; HE Rachel Ruto, the Spouse of the DP William Ruto; HE Anne Waiguru, Governor, Kirinyaga County; Hon Gathoni Wamuchomba, Kiambu County Women Representative and Chairperson of KeWoPa; and Hon Martha Karua, the NARC Kenya Party Leader and the Azimio Coalition’s DP Nominee.

In their messages, the leaders urge the public and political candidates to be tolerant and accommodating of one another on the political stage, regardless of gender, religion, tribal affiliation, or other perceived differences.

Hon Gathoni Wamuchomba, the KeWoPa chair, emphasized the important role technology can play in empowering people who are likely to be victims, thereby assisting in preventing online abuse and harassment, as well as violence against women online.

KEWOPA has been mobilising its members, partners and resources to build the capacity and resilience of its members and to inspire up-and-coming women leaders to deal with these challenges as we go into the General Election on August 9.

The climax of these efforts is a video campaign under the hashtag #HeshimuDada – respect women – that KEWOPA is releasing today featuring leading women in a rallying call for peace and a cessation of violence in all its forms, including violence against women in politics.

Hon Wamuchomba stated this in a speech read on her behalf by Mercy Mwangi, the KeWoPa Secretariat’s head.

Members of KeWoPa and female politicians are given online safety tools and training as part of #HeshimuDada to help them lessen the effects of online trolls and cyberbullying. The use of Harassment Manager, an online application that analyzes tweets based on hashtag, username, phrase, or date, has also been taught to members. This tool allows users to find toxic and destructive comments, mute or block harassers, and hide hostile replies to their own tweets.

The gender gap index score in Kenya increased to 0.69 in 2021, meaning that women were 30% less likely to have the same opportunities as men in the nation, the KeWoPa chair observed. This indicates that the gender gap continues to affect girls and women.

Violence against women is a serious problem and women in the public limelight are disproportionately targeted. During the 2017 elections, female candidates were many times more likely to be the victims of online and offline abuse than their male counterparts. Even in this campaign season, we have witnessed acts of violence against women in politics. When women and girls have access to the internet, they face online violence more often than men through a continuum of multiple, recurring, and interrelated forms of gender-based threats, according to UN Women, added Hon Wamuchomba.


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