“Our goal of poverty eradication and of inclusive growth that embraces the disadvantaged and marginalized sections of society can be achieved when our actions are guided by a social conscience and are not devoid of sensitivity.”
Despite the promulgation of the new constitution laws and provisions, which were meant to enable people to access opportunities there are still groups of people who have been, highly marginalized.
Marginalized groups have had their voices muffled; by either their gender, physical appearance or even by their region or location.
Through the Inter-Religious Council of Kenya the Baringo, Mombasa and Isiolo interfaith networks held forums to highlight the plights of these marginalized groups in our society.
For Baringo County, some of the most marginalized people are the migrant groups, who have been constrained by situations that have denied them opportunities to participate in policymaking processes. These communities include the Ogiek, Shonas, Chamos, the old people, and the Muslim community. Isiolo County, which is a traditional and indigenous community that out of a need or desire to preserve its unique culture, identity and a traditional lifestyle and livelihood based on a hunter or gatherer economy, has remained outside the integrated social and economic life of Kenya. Down at the Coast, cases of women, youth and People with Disabilities were highlighted as the core groups that face marginalization in the county. Women are denied access to basic rights such as education, exercising their rights such as voting or participating in decision-making tables in addition in the Rift Valley they are faced with limiting cultural practices such as FGM, and not allowed owning of properties.
The youth have been denied essential opportunities such as education, and political spaces to serve their communities, which hinders access to places where decisions that affect their lives are being discussed. Through things like registration and documentation such as ID and birth certificates, lack of medication and crucial items such as white cane for the blind, and sunscreen lotions for the Albino is not available and easily accessible to all, and lack of ramps in some buildings are some of the issues facing the PWDs. With the scarcity of facilities and amenities like pesa kwa wazee and inadequate essential facilities like banks, schools, and health facilities the older generation also fall into the marginalized groups.
Climate change affects the county of Isiolo immensely and thus during the drought season marginalized communities are affected because of lack of water access points and food whereas during the rainy seasons and floods they face challenges of poor drainage and limited movement to access services such as schools and hospitals.
These groups in the three counties called out the duty bearers and stakeholders to play their role in advocating, in implementing policies that address these discrepancies in these counties. They urged the government to appoint representatives from the marginalized communities to effectively present issues that affect them. A budget allocation for PWDS to be included in representation on boards and the County Assembly by the County governments. The Isiolo members called on the county and national government to work hand in hand to prevent the abandoning of disabled and street children in the counties, who are transported and brought through the sand harvesters. Mapping will allow proper selection of leaders who represent these groups in public offices and civic education programs will enable systematic and organized representation of all communities with public participation trickling down to the grassroots levels. The groups also called for sensitization on the right procedures of getting government funding as per the laid down guidelines.
At the end of the 2-day forum, major issues had been discussed, statements done and messages amplified on social media platforms through #MarginalisedVoices.
One message stood out, that when relevant stakeholders come together to ensure these issues are addressed then a fair platform is given to the marginalized groups to access service delivery, be able to grow economically as well as spiritually.
“Let’s continue to stand up for those who are vulnerable to being left out or marginalized.”
By Mary Ndulili