Community Update

Digital Empowerment Toolkit Now Available!

At World Pulse, we recognize the need for ongoing learning—for you and for your community! Our toolkits aim to provide the resources you need to advance your social change work.

We are excited to introduce our Digital Empowerment Trainers’ Toolkit, a dynamic resource to help you bring the benefits of connecting online to women in your community. Check it out today! »

The Voice in the Wilderness

As an activist, I endeavor to restore hope and purpose to the social minorities, vulnerable and disadvantaged women, youth and children through advocacy and capacity building programs in the slums of Kenya. My dream is to have a holistic society where none is discriminated against. Among other issues I will be sharing with the global community as a board member is the plight of orphans and vulnerable children, gender based sexual violence, substance and drug abuse, HIV and Aids, human sexuality and sexual orientation.

However, the issue of Sexual Orientation continues to draw negative reactions globally among them; the politicians, religious leaders, community leaders, and majority of people including family members who happen to look down upon the sexual minorities and reject them because of their sexual orientation.

Due to religious and cultural homophobia and transphobia most LGBTI globally and specifically in Kenya are living in fear and in the closet. Some have met both physical and spiritual violence making them to run a way and live in isolation; sometimes seeking asylum in other countries where their human rights can be respected. There are some youth who have committed suicide because of realizing that they are gay or lesbian and cannot change their sexual orientation.

Hardly a day goes by without the situation in Kenya getting worse for LGBTI people, with the country's parliamentarians, religious leaders and the media ganging up together to ostracize the LGBTI community and trying to woo the public to considering one of the most homophobic and anti-gay draft constitution. There exist expressions of prejudice about and stereotyping of LGBTI due to their sexual orientation. This if not addressed will feed discrimination, harassment and violence already experienced by LGBTI.

The LGBTI community in Africa and Kenya in particular undergo a lot of suffering in view of human rights in silence because of ignorance and cultural stereotypes. Many people don't like talking about this issue and is treated as taboo in our African setting. Africa is a sleeping giant when it comes to issues of human Sexuality. That is why it is important to conduct. Capacity Building seminars targeting the clergy and laity addressing issues of the Bible and Homosexuality, the Sheikhs and Imams, Science of sexual orientation and counseling of LGBTI and PFLAG are crucial in this part of the world. The purpose is to create an environment of social justice and reduce discrimination, physical and spiritual violence towards homosexuals.

There are a lot people in our community suffering silently who are prisoners of socio-economic and political injustices because of lack of serious empowerment programs in the field of human rights and gender issues. In every major political and social movement women have not been on the forefront of the cause in Kenya. As 30% of the national population, women have potential that remains untapped in national movement to fight for social justice. Majority of the women are suffering silently because of ignorance and fear. If women and their families are sensitized about their human rights they will be better prepared to exercise those rights to develop their individual and community’s capacity. Improved access to services including human rights organizations, psychosocial and legal assistance for women whose human rights are abused is my dream.

Being the Chief Executive Officer of Riruta United Women Empowerment Programme NGO was crowned in 2008 by Linda Bales Todd, director of More Louise Hughes Population Project of General Board of Church and Society for my selfless, dedication and commitment towards the suffering, vulnerable and marginalized women, youth and children in Africa. I still have the passion to serve and speak for the suffering humanity.
I was awarded a finalist’s certificate of the Voice in the Wilderness Award in Colorado, USA during the Reconciling Ministries Network Convocation in Sep, 2009. This is an award for persons who take risks to proclaim the righteousness of inclusion for all people in the church, and stands against injustice in places of isolation.

I was sacked from Nairobi Evangelical Graduate School of Theology as an assistant lecturer after it was noted that I was LGBTI affirming and inclusive. I am also the advisory counselor of Other Sheep East Africa. I counsel LGBTI and PFLAG in Kenya giving them hope and purpose in life. I do conduct seminars to reduce stigma, discrimination, rejection and homophobia/transphobia in Kenya.

As a board member of World Pulse, among other responsibilities I will endeavor to: Empower women to lead peer education and development projects to increase awareness of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Gender issues.

Comments

SpiraSpera's picture

Keep up the great work!

Riruta - Keep being a voice in the wilderness!

"A bird doesn't sing because it has the answer. It sings because it has a song." And so many others need to hear it.

Sing it, sister!
-S

Riruta UW Empowerment Programme's picture

Re: We sing it loud

Spira,
You are correct, we sing it loud to be heard and this time round we sing to be heard and embraced if hoping to be celebrated.

Justice and Joy!

Anne Khadudu Baraza,
CEO- Riruta United Women Empowerment Programme
+254 729880651/ 020 2602803
!27-00502 Karen, Nairobi Kenya

JaniceW's picture

Say it loud and say it proud

It is an honour to know you and to hear your strong voice rise up so proudly. We often read and hear statements borne of ignorance and fear, but what we do not hear in support of diversity speaks volumes too. We need to say that gender justice and sexual orientation justice are braided tightly together with racial justice. We need to say out loud and believe out loud that women and LGBTI persons should be afforded full rights and inclusion in all communities, and that includes the right to be accepted and ordained in faith communities. It is not enough to believe it; we need to believe it and proclaim it.

So, I thank you for standing here and proclaiming what should be the rights for all – inclusion, acceptance and celebration of who we are. As SpiraSpera so eloquently says, "Sing it, sister!"
Janice

Riruta UW Empowerment Programme's picture

Re: Count on us

Janice,
It is our prayer and hope that the world is reading the wave and tidings. Back here the minority have said enough is enough. If we don't stand tall to be counted, nobody will do it for us. As women we need to proclaim it loud and sing eloquently for the world to appreciate us. For my church-, we have paid a price for singing loudly for the full inclusion of the LGBTI in our various faiths. We have been discriminated against and isolated but this has made us stronger and more vocal. We are not about to stop singing the song for inclusion, acceptance, tolerance, love and celebration.

Justice and Joy.

Anne Khadudu Baraza,
CEO- Riruta United Women Empowerment Programme
+254 729880651/ 020 2602803
!27-00502 Karen, Nairobi Kenya

JaniceW's picture

Amen to that

How inspiring that your church welcomes all persons just as they are as they come through the door. You are fortunate indeed to belong to a house of worship that embraces everyone. Don't ever stop singing and fighting for your rights.
Janice

Riruta UW Empowerment Programme's picture

Re: Riruta UMC

Our church is :The Church with Open Mind, Open heart, Open Soul. A church without walls.Is my dream that one day all faiths will be inclusive and affirming. A journey of a thousand miles begins with a step. Riruta UMC is the only reconciling church in this part of the world but is my prayer that others will follow suit.

Anne Khadudu Baraza,
CEO- Riruta United Women Empowerment Programme
+254 729880651/ 020 2602803
!27-00502 Karen, Nairobi Kenya

Celine's picture

Human Right Issue

Anne,
Great to hear of your Church, which is indeed without walls. LGBTI persons are near isolation in Africa due to cultural stereotypes. I think the issue with LGBTI persons need more approach from human rights perspectives. I remember last year when my organization was invited for discussion over a bill pertaining that. What we witnessed was a wish-washy discussion and the bill was already passed against their operation. The input of human rights activists and organisations did not count.
Celine

Riruta UW Empowerment Programme's picture

Re: Inclusiveness

Yes, Celine, the LGBTI issue is a human rights issue. Everyone has the freedom of worship and that is why we are a church without walls. With a human rights' issue the activists must pay a price for it. Our church has been labeled and discriminated against by the East African Annual Conference because the leadership is homophobic.If religious leaders can be educated about sexual orientation, they will stop preaching homophobic sermons but rather inclusiveness and love. That is why we must sing and sing it loudly sister from any angle.

Anne Khadudu Baraza,
CEO- Riruta United Women Empowerment Programme
+254 729880651/ 020 2602803
!27-00502 Karen, Nairobi Kenya

sunita.basnet's picture

Bold voice

Dear Anne,

This is my first time, I am reading your journal and am very inspired from what you have written here. I am very inspired from your work to " orphans and vulnerable children, gender based sexual violence, substance and drug abuse, HIV and Aids, human sexuality and sexual orientation" is so inspiring. We also need many Anne in Nepal. I have a suggestion to you, no matter whether you get this opportunities or not, please continue rising your voice.

The world need your voice.

With Love and Regards
Sunita Basnet

Sunita,
Thanks for the observations.I am not about to stop rising my voice as a woman. If we don't talk as women the world will continue giving as second hand opportunities. As concerned women,we have to be on the forefront championing and claiming what is rightfully ours.

The world being a global village and with WorldPulse offering us space to share our views,we are bound to positively change the face of women. Communication is power!

Anne Khadudu Baraza,
CEO- Riruta United Women Empowerment Programme
+254 729880651/ 020 2602803
!27-00502 Karen, Nairobi Kenya

jap21's picture

Hi Anne

I am so glad you are here. This is the spirit my friend! I am so with you when you say "claiming what is rightfully ours". Just like you, I don´t like second hand opportunities, and we are here because we care about so many that don´t just yet realize that they in fact, are living second hand lives.

Cheers to you!

Love,

Jackie

Jacqueline Patiño FundActiva
Tarija - Bolivia
South America
www.jap21.wordpress.com

Riruta UW Empowerment Programme's picture

Debate or Dialogue?

Thanks Jackie.That is why we need dialogue and not debate with our brothers and sisters on the way forward.

Cheers!

Anne Khadudu Baraza,
CEO- Riruta United Women Empowerment Programme
+254 729880651/ 020 2602803
!27-00502 Karen, Nairobi Kenya

Umme Mahbuba's picture

Amazing!

Hi Anne,
This is really inspiring and I love the way that you bring up all the sides of this issue. Love your encouraging writing and sprit.

Thank You,
Umme.

Riruta UW Empowerment Programme's picture

Liberated

Hi Umme,
Thanks sister for the encouragement.
Human sexuality and ethical concerns, culture, language, mental health and human rights do make up the whole. One Prof. John S Mbiti said that sexuality has many colors depending on the community and generation. “Thus it changes like a chameleon.Everyone has something to say about it yet at the same time we all shy away. That is the dilemma and paradox.”

The issue on sexuality has been challenged and debated but answers must reflect human dignity and human rights. We must voice it.

I think there is need to have a liberating theology of sexuality in the areas of economics, legal, cultural and ecclesiastical for any society or government to be relevant and for it to claim it is serving equally its citizens.

Anne Khadudu Baraza,
CEO- Riruta United Women Empowerment Programme
+254 729880651/ 020 2602803
!27-00502 Karen, Nairobi Kenya

Magazine »

Read global coverage through women's eyes

Inside Congo's Growing Sisterhood

Inside Congo's Growing Sisterhood

Community »

Connect with women on the ground worldwide

PAKISTAN: They Went to School and Never Came Back

PAKISTAN: They Went to School and Never Came Back

Campaigns »

Be heard at influential forums

WWW: Women Weave the Web

WWW: Women Weave the Web

Programs »

Help us train women citizen journalists

World Pulse Voices of Our Future

World Pulse Voices of Our Future

Blog »

Read the latest from World Pulse headquarters

Announcing Our Prize Winners!

Announcing Our Prize Winners!

Partners »

Join forces with our wide network of partners

Nobel Women's Initiative

Nobel Women's Initiative