Polycom Girls Empower Girls on International Women’s Day at Lavington Girls High School

Nairobi, Kenya,

On International Women’s Day (IWD), Lavington Girls High School came alive as Polycom Girls joined the girls in celebration. The event, held in collaboration with Dagoretti North MP, Hon. Beatrice Elachi, marked a major milestone in empowering women and girls to take up all spaces including leadership positions.

The collaboration was as a result of an informative legislative meeting facilitated by KEWOPA (Kenya Women Parliamentary Association), with female MPs from across the country gathering to discuss critical issues affecting women and girls in Kenya. Among the topics was the transformative impact of the “talking box,” a simple yet revolutionary tool that has been making waves in schools nationwide. The talking box, designed to foster open conversations, has become a part of the learning process, with girls seeking guidance, mentorship, and a safe space to share their experiences, through scribbled notes inside a locked box.

Impressed by the positive outcomes observed in schools where the talking box was deployed, Hon. Beatrice Elachi extended a heartfelt invitation to Polycom Girls to visit Lavington Girls High School, with a mission to empower yet another girl. The request was equally straightforward, with the girls requesting a talking box donation to keep speaking their minds beyond this International Women’s Day.

Our team from Polycom Girls rose to the occasion with an unwavering contribution to the talking box, words of encouragement, advice, and stories of resilience. But that was not all. Recognizing the practical challenges faced by girls, the organization also donated 200 pieces of sanitary towels. These seemingly small items hold immense significance for girls, ensuring their comfort and dignity during their menstrual cycles. It is a tangible gesture that speaks volumes about our organization’s dedication to the feminine holistic well-being.

The IWD celebration was also graced by Hon. Esther Passaris, former First Daughter Winnie Kibaki who shared anecdotes of their own feminine journeys, emphasizing the power of education and resilience. And, of course, Hon. Beatrice Elachi reflecting on leadership and advocacy. The day was filled with music, dance, and powerful messages tailored to uplift and motivate the girls present telling them that “You matter. Your voice matters.” Polycom Girls’ commitment to adolescent girls extends beyond the classroom. It is about nurturing resilience. In the words of Hon. Esther Passaris, “When girls rise, nations thrive.” What a beautiful way to conclude the IWD by investing constantly in young minds!


Polycom Girl’s Founding Executive Director Jane Anyango Named Face of SDG 11 in Kenya.

17 Women, 17 Countries, 17 SDGs

The Polycom Girl’s team applauds its Founding Executive Director Jane Anyango, who is Kenya’s face of SDG 11, Sustainable Cities and Communities. Through an initiative dubbed “17 Faces of Action,” Jane’s outstanding contributions to promoting sustainable urbanization and community development in the grassroots areas where Polycom operates have been applauded.

“I am empowered to bridge the efforts of local women like me with established frameworks, recognizing that true change originates at the grassroots. When those directly impacted acknowledge the transformation, it signifies lasting and sustainable progress,” Stated Jane.

In a groundbreaking collaboration at the University of Nairobi, between The Ministry of Foreign and Diaspora Affairs, the United Nations in Geneva, SDG Kenya Forum, and the Association of Swiss Women and Empowerment (ASWE), a global monumental initiative was launched to spotlight women driving change across the globe. “17 Faces of Action,” aims to identify and celebrate 17 women from 17 countries who embody the spirit of each of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). ASWE’s “17 Faces of Action” main supporter, the Director-General of the United Nations Office in Geneva, Mrs. Tatiana Valovaya, the first woman to hold this position, stated her desire to have women and men granted equal opportunities. “It is self-evident that we will not achieve any of our goals if half of humanity is left aside,” states Mrs. Tatiana, as she acknowledged the importance of the exhibition in Nairobi.

Jane’s journey towards becoming the Kenyan face of SDG 11 began with her involvement in the New Urban Agenda, a global vision for sustainable urbanization. Through her leadership, Polycom Girls has been instrumental in organizing annual events like the Urban Thinkers Campus, gathering diverse national stakeholders to address the challenges of urban development, especially in the informal settlements where Polycom works.

One of the remarkable urban initiatives spearheaded by Jane’s team at Polycom is the Talking Boxes in more than 50 schools, providing a safe space for girls to share their experiences and aspirations anonymously through scribbled notes. This innovative approach has not only empowered young girls but has also contributed to creating inclusive and supportive spaces within grassroots communities.

Polycom’s pioneering efforts in data collection on sexual harassment in public spaces through the Safe City Platform have set a precedent for other countries. By leveraging data-driven insights, Kenya has been able to identify hotspots of harassment and implement targeted interventions to enhance safety and security.

Jane’s selection as the face of SDG 11 in Kenya is a testament to her unwavering commitment to building sustainable cities and communities from the grassroots level. As a local woman, Jane emphasizes the importance of recognizing and amplifying the efforts of women at the grassroots level, where real change takes root and flourishes.

Through initiatives like “17 Faces of Action,” women like Jane are not only being celebrated for their achievements but are also being empowered to leverage existing frameworks like the SDGs, UN Resolution 1325, and the New Urban Agenda to drive sustainable change at the local level.


We Will not be Silenced by silence, shame, and victim-blaming in the fight to end femicide in Kenya. #EndFemicideKe

To our fellow Sisters and Allies,

It is with heavy hearts and unwavering determination that we join other women in Kenya  and come together as part of the Polycom Girls to address a grave issue plaguing our nation; femicide. The recent data from the UN Women paints a grim picture with over 500 of our sisters, daughters, and mothers have been taken from us since 2016, victims of senseless violence rooted in misogyny and patriarchal norms.

But we refuse to stay silent in the face of such tragedy. We stand shoulder to shoulder with the brave women who took to Nairobi streets in solidarity, demanding justice for those we have lost and a future where our daughters can walk freely without fear.

In our collective efforts through the #EndFemicideKe movement, we recognize that femicide is not just about isolated incidents of violence. It is a systemic issue deeply entrenched in our society, fueled by silence, shame, and victim-blaming. But we refuse to be silenced any longer.

In our preparatory meetings, Angelina from CREAW spoke truths that resonated deeply with us about  the complexities of emotions, mental health struggles, and societal pressures that push some to commit such atrocities.Some are committed by people who cannot deal with rejection. We know that change must come from within, addressing both individual and structural factors that perpetuate violence against women.

Our #EndFemicideKe movement amplifies the voices of those often marginalized including the intersex individuals, and those with diverse sexual orientations and gender identities. Their stories matter, and their struggles must be acknowledged if we are to achieve true justice and equality for all.

We draw inspiration from the tireless efforts of feminist movements that came before us, challenging patriarchal norms and fighting for gender equality. We stand on their shoulders as we demand accountability from our leaders and push for legislative reforms that will hold perpetrators accountable.

But our work does not stop there. We demand concrete actions from our Kenyan government, especially the women in power who have stayed silent during these tragedies, demanding for the establishment of commissions to the improvement of data collection and the allocation of resources for prevention and support programs. We demand feminine representation and inclusion in all decision-making bodies, for we know that our voices matter and our experiences must be heard.

As we continue our fight against femicide, let us remember the power of solidarity and collective action. Together, we are a force to be reckoned with, and together, we will create a future where we as women and girls, together with our sisters, daughters, and mothers can live free from fear of untimely death in the name of femicide.

In solidarity with #EndFemicideKe,

The Polycom Girls Organization.


Unveiling Facts and Dispelling Fiction About Kibera.

Kibera, located in Nairobi, Kenya, is one of Africa’s largest informal settlements, capturing attention for both its challenges and its resilience. Let’s sift through the facts and fiction surrounding this unique community:

Fact: High Population Density: Kibera is densely populated, with estimates varying from several hundred thousand to over a million residents. This tight living situation leads to infrastructural strains and limited access to basic services.

Fiction: Lack of Community Spirit: Contrary to misconceptions, Kibera is a vibrant and close-knit community. Residents often support each other, collaborating on projects and initiatives that address shared challenges.

Fact: Informal Housing: Most of Kibera’s housing is informal, constructed from materials like corrugated iron sheets and mud. The lack of formal planning and infrastructure poses risks during natural disasters like floods.

Fiction: Hopelessness: While poverty is a reality, the people of Kibera exhibit remarkable resilience. Many are engaged in businesses, education, and community activities, striving to improve their lives and surroundings.

Fact: Limited Access to Services: Access to clean water, sanitation, healthcare, and education remains challenging for many Kibera residents. Informal settlements often struggle to receive the same services as formal urban areas.

Fiction: Lack of Creativity: Art, music, and cultural expression thrive in Kibera. The community showcases creativity through initiatives like youth groups, art collectives, and even an annual film festival.

Fact: Economic Struggles: Unemployment and underemployment are significant issues in Kibera. Many residents engage in informal work, from street vending to small-scale entrepreneurship.

Fiction: Absence of Education: While educational opportunities can be limited, many organizations and individuals work to provide schooling and skill development programs for Kibera’s youth.

Fact: Resilient Spirit: Despite challenges, Kibera’s residents display remarkable strength and resourcefulness. Grassroots organizations and initiatives are actively working to improve living conditions and empower the community.

Fiction: Uniformity: Kibera is not a monolithic entity. It has diverse cultures, religions, ethnic groups,  languages, and backgrounds, reflecting the rich mosaic of Kenya’s urban landscape.


Polycom Girls Champions for Climate Action in the Urban Informal Settlements

Flooding, a growing challenge in cities worldwide, hits hardest in marginalized communities. Informal settlements, like Kibera, bear the brunt. Situated in flood-prone areas, residents face perilous consequences.

In the rainy season, tragedy strikes in Kibera with flooding claiming lives. The danger escalates, but escaping to higher ground is no easy feat in this densely populated slum. Kibera, Nairobi’s largest informal settlement, grapples with biannual floods. Those with scarce resources are forced into the most affordable yet flood-prone locations.

Polycom isn’t standing by. They’re joining hands with residents, community groups, and partners in an effort to start community-responsive adaptation projects in high-risk zones. The immediate toll of flooding is well known—human lives lost, property destroyed, crops ruined, and waterborne diseases spreading. But in the heart of Kibera, there’s a glimmer of hope.

Polycom doesn’t stop at sensitization, They are also championing women’s role in climate action. By involving women in discussions and decision-making processes, they’re creating a more inclusive and resilient future for the community.


Empowerment Blossoms in Transforming Lives

Polycom Girls is nurturing a garden of empowerment, where women are being equipped with the tools to shape their destinies and create a better future.

At the core of Polycom’s mission is the empowerment of women through advocacy and education. With a vision that recognizes the immense potential within these women, Polycom has opened doors to advocacy spaces that were once distant dreams. Through carefully designed training programs, women are being trained to be advocates for their own rights and the rights of others. The journey doesn’t end there – Polycom is determined to bridge the gap between learning and action.

For some, the transformation has been a lifeline away from harmful practices. Women who have endured the weight of gender-based violence (GBV) and the traumas of female genital mutilation (FGM) have found solace in Polycom’s educational initiatives. With newfound knowledge, they are empowered to rise above their past and forge ahead with courage. The scars that once defined them are now symbols of their resilience and strength.

Courage comes in various forms, and for a group of women, it meant advocating for market expansion within the confines of Kibera. Driven by the belief that their community deserves access to better opportunities, these women fearlessly campaigned for the growth of local markets. Their unwavering efforts have transformed once-neglected spaces into thriving hubs of economic activity, giving hope and dignity to their fellow residents.

But empowerment isn’t just about advocacy; it’s about fostering independence through education and entrepreneurship. Polycom’s training in entrepreneurship has opened new avenues for women to explore their potential. Guided by mentors, they have discovered the world of online businesses and physical small enterprises. They’ve learned how to source goods online, set competitive prices, and maximize profits.

Perhaps what stands as a true testament to their courage and determination is the collective action they’ve taken. Women have united to seek affirmative funds – small loans without interest. With these loans, they’ve defied all odds to establish and grow their businesses. What began as a flicker of aspiration has transformed into a blaze of success. As they repay their loans and prepare to embark on their next chapters, they carry with them the pride of accomplishment and the promise of brighter tomorrow.


The Talking Box That Serves as a Portals of Trust for Teenagers in Kibera

Amidst the maze of more than 50 schools nestled within the bustling heart of Kibera, an extraordinary initiative emerged like a ray of hope cutting through the shadows. “The Talking Box,” a creation borne from the relentless dedication of the Polycom Improvement Project, stood as a beacon against the haunting echoes of Gender-Based Violence (GBV) that plagued the lives of many young scholars. Within the confines of this sprawling urban informal settlement, where silence often veiled the pain, this transformative innovation emerged as a whisper of change.

At its core, this creation was simple yet profound – a metallic box, locked and secure, ready to cradle the untold stories of these vulnerable children. Led by the indomitable spirit of Jane Anyango, the project’s pioneers recognized the desperate need to shatter the silence that clung to the struggles of young girls. The Talking Box was their answer – a channel that transcended hushed voices and allowed them to share their fears, their sorrows, and their experiences of GBV, all while remaining veiled in anonymity.

In a land where comprehensive sex education often languished in the shadows of statistics, where over 370,000 students bore the weight of teenage pregnancies in 2016, the Talking Box emerged as an instrument of change. Guided by Jane’s unwavering determination, this initiative moved beyond mere numbers, becoming a sanctuary for those who needed it most.

With each Talking Box positioned within the walls of schools, a metamorphosis took place. These boxes evolved into portals of trust, inviting young girls to inscribe their most private narratives and deposit them within their secure confines. A symphony of voices emerged, echoing tales of strength and resilience. These heartfelt messages, lovingly gathered and carefully categorized, acted as catalysts for transformation. In response to these whispered revelations, discussions unfolded, counseling sessions began, and support was extended, each carrying on the wings of compassion.

The sanctuary of the Talking Box offered these young souls a haven, a place to unburden themselves from the weight they carried, a place where their voices were not stifled by fear or hesitation. This groundbreaking initiative expanded its reach, touching countless lives and addressing a mosaic of challenges. It gave rise to a chorus of concerns – from the absence of basic necessities like sanitary towels to the horrors of abuse, hunger, and domestic turmoil that no child should bear.

Amid the countless stories etched into the fabric of this project, one stood out – Joan, an embodiment of courage in Kibera. Her tale was one of fear and determination intertwined, a story of how she overcame her own apprehensions to reveal the dark reality she endured at the hands of her own father. Then there was Janet, whose story unveiled the hardships tied to menstruation, a simple yet profound barrier to education due to the scarcity of sanitary towels and proper undergarments.

In the heart of Kenya’s largest slum, these whispered confessions resonated louder than the clamor of injustice. Through the Talking Boxes, girls found their voices and shared their stories, transcending their fears. One young girl, brave in the face of her father’s anger, wrote words that echoed through the corridors of change: “When my father returns from the bar, his rage threatens to consume us. But through the talking box, I found a conduit for my fears, sharing my story without revealing my identity.”

Within these quiet exchanges, the young girls poured their hearts onto slips of paper, offering their fears and queries to the embrace of the Talking Box. Discreetly positioned near restrooms and hidden corners, these ethereal containers safeguarded their secrets, especially in mixed-gender schools where vulnerability hid behind walls. Jane Anyango, the visionary behind this transformative endeavor, shared her insight, “In working closely with these young girls, I discovered that those with the heaviest burdens rarely found their voices. This realization inspired me to devise a way to truly listen to these young souls.”

And so, amidst the noise of the world, in the hidden corners of Kibera, the Radiant Whispers were born. The Talking Boxes stand as sentinels of change, bridging the chasm between silence and strength, transforming fear into resilience, and nurturing a community where young voices could finally be heard, an invention that the whole country would truly benefit from.


Let’s debunk Ten Myths and Facts About Sexual Violence

Myth 1: “Sexual Violence Only Happens to Women”

Fact: Sexual violence affects individuals of all genders.

Sexual violence is not limited to any specific gender. Men, women, and individuals of diverse gender identities can all be victims of sexual violence. Acknowledging and addressing the experiences of all survivors is essential for creating comprehensive support systems.

Myth 2: “Most Sexual Assaults are Committed by Strangers”

Fact: A significant number of sexual assaults are perpetrated by acquaintances, friends and family.

Contrary to popular belief, many sexual assaults are committed by individuals known to the victim, such as friends, partners, or family members. This underscores the importance of consent and boundaries in all types of relationships.

Myth 3: “Victims Always Physically Resist During an Assault”

Fact: Victims may respond in various ways, including freezing or complying out of fear.

People’s responses to trauma vary, and it’s not uncommon for victims to experience a “fight, flight, or freeze” response during an assault. Freezing or complying doesn’t indicate consent; it can be a survival strategy in a threatening situation.

Myth 4: “If a Person Doesn’t Say ‘No,’ it’s Not Rape”

Fact: Consent is about clear and enthusiastic agreement, not the absence of a specific word.

Consent is an ongoing process that requires active communication and mutual agreement. Consent cannot be assumed; it must be given freely, without pressure or coercion, and can be revoked at any time.

Myth 5: “Wearing Certain Clothes or Acting a Certain Way Invites Sexual Violence”

Fact: Clothing and behavior do not justify or cause sexual violence.

Sexual violence is solely the responsibility of the perpetrator. No one “asks for it” by their clothing or behavior. Blaming survivors perpetuates victim-blaming culture and detracts from addressing the root causes of the problem.

Myth 6: “Only ‘Violent’ Assaults Count as Sexual Violence”

Fact: Sexual violence encompasses a wide range of behaviors, from verbal harassment to physical assault.

Sexual violence includes not only physical assault but also any unwelcome or non-consensual sexual behavior, such as catcalling, unwanted touching, and sharing explicit materials without consent.

Myth 7: “False Reports of Sexual Violence are Common”

Fact: False reports of sexual violence are rare and similar to false reports of other crimes.

Research consistently shows that false reports of sexual violence are no more common than false reports of other crimes. The focus should remain on supporting survivors and creating a safe environment for reporting.

Myth 8: “Alcohol or Drugs Excuse Perpetrators of Sexual Violence”

Fact: Intoxication does not justify or excuse sexual violence. Consent remains paramount.

Being under the influence of substances does not absolve someone of responsibility for their actions. The key factor is whether all parties involved are capable of giving and receiving informed and enthusiastic consent.

Myth 9: “Married or Committed Partners Can’t Be Rapists”

Fact: Consent is needed in all relationships, regardless of marital status or commitment.

Spouses and partners must still seek and obtain consent before engaging in any sexual activity. Marital or relationship status does not negate the importance of consent.

Myth 10: “Reporting Sexual Violence is Pointless; Justice is Rarely Served”

Fact: Reporting can lead to justice, healing, and the prevention of future assaults.

While the legal process can be challenging, reporting sexual violence can bring closure to survivors, hold perpetrators accountable, and contribute to preventing future incidents.


Unpack the Sexual Offences Act of 2006 With the Polycom Team

Polycom is committed to upholding justice and protecting its citizens, the Sexual Offences Act of 2006 stands as a pillar of safeguarding personal integrity and well-being. This comprehensive legislation outlines a range of offenses and corresponding penalties, each meticulously designed to address the complexities of sexual misconduct and offer reprieve to victims. Through the following narrative, we delve into the various offenses covered by this act, shedding light on the sentences that await those who breach its provisions.

Rape: A Violent Intrusion

The core of the Sexual Offences Act lies in the grave crime of rape, where one person deliberately violates the sanctity of another’s body without consent. By employing force, threats, coercion, or intimidation, the offender perpetrates an act that shatters lives. This heinous act, irrespective of the gender of the victim or perpetrator, is met with the firm hand of justice. The sentence for rape can range from a minimum of ten years of imprisonment, which can extend to a life sentence in the most severe cases.

The Peril of Attempted Rape

Attempting to commit rape is no less significant an offense. When an individual endeavors to violate another’s body against their will, they tread the treacherous path of attempted rape. The law recognizes this menace and imposes a penalty of at least five years of imprisonment, extending to life imprisonment in severe instances.

Confronting the Menace of Sexual Assault

Sexual assault, another reprehensible act, involves the intentional use of objects or body parts other than private organs to violate another person’s privacy. Acts such as these are met with an unequivocal stance – a minimum of ten years behind bars, and in severe cases, life imprisonment.

Defilement: Shielding the Vulnerable

Defilement is a term that resonates deeply, referring to sexual intercourse with a child, even if the child’s consent is involved. The Act meticulously addresses this crime based on the victim’s age. If the victim is aged 11 or younger, the penalty is a mandatory life sentence. If the victim falls between the ages of 12 and 15, a minimum of 20 years’ imprisonment is prescribed. For victims aged 16 to 18, the sentence is a minimum of 15 years. Even attempts at defilement are punishable by no less than 10 years of imprisonment.

Unity in Crime: Gang Rape and Gang Defilement

The despicable act of gang rape or gang defilement – where two or more individuals are involved – leads to a shared responsibility for the crime. Each offender faces not one, but two charges – an individual charge and a joint charge for the gang rape. The penalty for this heinous act is a minimum of 15 years of imprisonment, with potential for life imprisonment.

Indecent Acts: Disrespecting Boundaries

Indecent acts, involving the inappropriate use of one’s private parts, breasts, or buttocks, also come under the Act’s purview. For these transgressions, the punishment is clear: a minimum of ten years’ imprisonment.

Child Protection: A Non-Negotiable Priority

The Act leaves no room for compromise when it comes to the exploitation of children. From child sex tourism to child prostitution, the penalties are stringent. Those involved in exploiting children for sexual purposes face a minimum of 10 years in prison, and companies engaging in such practices are subject to hefty fines. The gravity of child pornography also warrants severe consequences – from imprisonment to fines.

Seeking Justice: Medical Examination for Victims

For victims of sexual offenses, seeking justice often begins with a medical examination. Tests such as vaginal or anal swabs, pregnancy tests, and screenings for sexually transmitted infections play a crucial role in both evidence collection and the victim’s health and well-being.


Over A Decade Of Transformation – The ‘Talking Boxes Project’ Kibra

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