Thursday, August 15, 2013

A Feminist Leader’s Quest for Justice

My name is Rachael Mumbi Gichuki. I am 25 years of age. I was born in green and fertile area of Kiambu and raised in the cosmopolitan city of Nairobi. I am currently in my final year at the Kenyatta University pursing a Bachelor’s degree in Law.  I have always wanted be a lawyer and this dream was realized first when I was about eight years old, when there were many images on the television of victims of corruption and land grabbing in the country. At that tender and impressionable age, I understood the importance of the justice system in alleviating pain and suffering.

Fast forward thirteen years later, I joined Kenyatta University School of Law and myself with other like-minded individuals initiated Resource Institute for Peace and Legal Education (RIPLE) at our fourth year of study. As the acronym suggests, the initiative brings to light the importance of youth and women being conscious of the consequences of their action in their community.

RIPLE was
mainly established in order to deal with the negative ethnicity in the conduct and dialogue among university students, champion for access to justice and realization of the rights of young people and women as well as facilitate the transition of young people from dependent adults to independent adults.

Currently at RIPLE, we are running the following programs: the Legal Aid Program which offers legal aid trainings which focus on various aspects of law and aid in the curtailment of the intimidating image of the law to the ordinary youth; the  Civic Education and Engagement Programme, is justified by the fact that the ripple effect of a people aware of their rights yields a society able to articulate their rights and hold accountable its government and other duty bearer; and Sexual and Gender Based violence programme which offers legal aid and awareness to female and male youth pertaining to SGBV. For victims who cannot afford the services of an advocate, we engage the services of a pro bono advocate or train on self-representation to enable access to justice for such victims.

The journey has not been a smooth one but I had the honour and privilege of being mentored by my father, The Late Mr. Jaidus Gichuki. He helped breakdown phenomenon I could not understand, gave me caveats about life but most importantly he always believed in me. In retrospect, I realize, like me, he was a very strong choleric. Even though he passed on quite recently, he leaves me with a wealth of knowledge, little nuggets of truth and wisdom that will guide me for the rest of my life. 

In November 2013, I was privileged to be part of the YWLI Feminist Leadership training; this helped me understand the concept of feminism beyond the obvious misconception of feminism as well as bring me to a point of naming myself a feminist. The institute furnished me with the skills I need to make RIPLE a success. The understanding of human rights and women rights and the reason for the dichotomy of the rights informs all of RIPLE’s programmes.

Through the Institute I also learnt that we must learn to take care of ourselves, if we are to influence change, after all “what’s the point of a revolution if I can’t dance”.

Young Women's Leadership Institute (YWLI) is one of the four partner institutes of the African Centers of Excellence (ACE) for Women's Leadership program run by the Institute of International Education (IIE) , Ethiopia Office.

For more on IIE , ACE or YWLI please follow the links below.
www.iie.org/
www.iie.org/en/Programs/ACE-for-Womens-Leadership
www.ywli.org