Awuor Ayiecho – THERE’S A SHRINKING SPACE FOR HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS, BUT LIFE GETS BETTER WITH CHANGE “

It all began on the corridors of Kenya’s Nairobi UniversityA colleague of Awuor Aiyecho from Kenya Model United Nations asked her to attend a training workshop, organized by Amnesty International Kenya.  Aiyecho grabbed the opportunity and that’s how she found herself in a room filled with people discussing human rights.

She later grew interested in activism, exposing her to a newfangled world. She has no regrets to date.

Now as a human rights educator and freelance process facilitator, Aiyecho has been actively engaged with Amnesty International Kenya activities where she’s been a member since 2015. She is also the Current Acting Director of the Student Consortium for Human Rights Advocacy (SCOHRA Society). She has co-organized the Inter Varsity Human Rights Debate Championship (IHRD) since 2014. The debate seeks to tackle human rights issues such as refugee rights, accountability, and right to housing.

Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice and most of all, love of what you are doing or learning to do–Pele
In 2013, Aiyecho supported members of the Rapid Response Team (RRT) in a march to the then lands Minister-Charity Ngilu. They were petitioning against forced evictions at city carton and other informal settlements. This action, as well as other lobbying efforts by the RRT, led to the enactment of the Community Land Act, 2016.Their commitment and resolve towards this cause further encouraged her human rights work.

She also took up the role of a facilitator during Amnesty International’s First open online course on freedom of expression.This global community of human rights defenders also taught her how they tackle issues such as censorship and the right to access information as well as their exercise of the freedom of expression.

The 2015 debate on refugee rights also drove some of the participants to take action towards ensuring refugee rights by starting a social enterprise that would benefit urban refugees.

Well, the journey has not been that rosy. Kenyans are yet to embrace human rights education as an area of advocacy. This has made it increasingly difficult to engage students in high schools and institutions of higher learning with the support of the school administration. There are also fewer individuals committed to becoming human rights volunteers.

Ayiecho’s message to the world: we need to educate ourselves more on our rights and responsibilities. That is the only way we will be able to hold our duty bearers to account. Let’s focus less on the people in politics and more on the development agenda

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