Building a gender equal world through higher education

News and opportunities for staff and students at ACU member universities.

Sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) at universities in Kenya often leaves female students with internal wounds beneath the ‘happy faces’ seen on graduation day. As SGBV is frequently camouflaged by a culture of intimidation and silence, addressing the issue is a challenge. When it comes to confidentiality, the protection of survivors and their dignity, and the dissemination of appropriate information, poor university responses and systems can leave the traumatised victims in limbo.

Armed with this knowledge, I applied for funding from the ACU to develop a mobile app to address SGBV in September 2019. The app facilitates anonymous, efficient and timely reporting of SGBV cases, helps to analyse data, and provides reports on submitted cases for further investigation.

It also helps to sensitise students and the university community on gender issues, in particular safe spaces on campus. The app is easily accessible, and students and staff can use it at their convenience and privacy without fearing intimidation.

The app categorises data into gender, type, location, details of the incident, contact, and image, all of which are collected and stored securely, ready for retrieval during disciplinary processes. The app also breaks down cases into specific categories such as gender discrimination, sexual harassment, sexual assault/abuse, sexual exploitation, defilement and indecent acts. It provides general safety information and contact details for emergencies, but most importantly, it minimises stigma, intimidation, and victimisation, especially in cases where the culprit is from senior management.

I am excited to tell the world that as technology evolves, so does the potential to combat gender inequality. Investing learning and time into combatting SGBV doesn’t need to be an extra curricula activity. Let us all strive to offer an education free from gender bias and constraints. Our campuses must be free from all forms of gender discrimination.