Women’s Rights Improved


Waiting area at FIDA office
Women frequently want to remain anonymous when consulting with a FIDA lawyer, so in the photo the waiting area is almost deserted

When talking about women’s rights as I tour Kenya quite a few mention the women’s lawyer organization FIDA as a political player. And FIDA was also a recommended project for the World Expo 2000.

When visiting FIDA’s headquarters in Nairobi the first I see is their everyday business. In the ground floor some clients are waiting for their counseling appointment. Women with low income just pay a fee of 500 Kenyan Shillings, around five Dollars, for a FIDA lawyer to give advice or represent her.

But upstairs, on the first floor I feel that this is a special day. The media are full of a spectacular case. A member of parliament is accused by a woman to have raped her in his office.

FIDA director Christine Ochieng
FIDA director Christine Ochieng

And FIDA director Christine Ochieng is having numerous phone calls about the case. She says: “We hope he gets charged and then we become part of the prosecution team. He is an example, that even if you are leader to commit a crime you get to court.”

Another milestone in FIDA’s history was just set the day before:  The Sexual Offenses Act has passed Kenyan parliament. For Christine Ochieng it is the latest in a long row of legal and administrative improvements for women in Kenya. She told me:  “I practice for about 18 years and I tell you there is a huge difference. You cannot compare the nineties and right now – you cannot compare! We have been the key because we are the premier women’s organization, we have been around for 30 years now. It was one of our members who proposed the sexual offenses act.”

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