On Sunday, September 29th the “160 Girls” made history again – after winning their ground breaking decision in the High Court of Kenya on May 27th, 2013, establishing that the police treatment of their defilement claims constituted a violation of domestic, regional and international human rights law, the girls made history on Sunday by hosting the first international marathon in support of girls’ rights.
The “Access to Justice” marathon was hosted in Meru, Kenya; elite runners from across Kenya participated in the marathon, as well as runners from Canada, the United States and other countries. The girls ran the 5K (accompanied by members of their legal team) in celebration of their legal victory, and in support of the advancement of girls’ rights. The girls were so excited to run at the marathon, they were literally jumping up and down in anticipation the day before!
The marathon linked the girls to Kenya’s elite marathon runners, who are big celebrities. The celebration of the girls as legal victors, in combination with the celebration of the marathon’s top finalists as running champions, created a truly festive celebration, and some magical moments.
As the girls joined the top place finalists on the winners’ podium, especially designed to hold the girls and the finalists on the first place platform, there was an electric energy as they cheered “number one”, and the marathon finalists hugged them and shook their hands, and the press and crowd gathered around to share the special moment. This unique “justice” podium, and the banner that was on its face (“The real victory is justice for child rape victims.”), was conceived of and designed by the amazing BBDO advertising.
The marathon also saw the launch of the “160 Girls” public awareness campaign with the “Justice is now/here” initiative. The Senator for Meru revealed the twist to the campaign when he painted a pink slash transforming the billboard message that originally read “Justice is nowhere for child rape victims”, and transformed it to “Justice is now/here for child rape victims.” The “Justice is now/here” billboard, featured here, towers majestically over the main intersection in Meru and is spell binding. The “160 Girls” message is literally being brought to the streets in Kenya!
Another memorable moment at the award ceremony following the marathon included Mercy Chidi, E.D. at Ripples International, calling on Patricia Nyaundi, CEO of the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (the KNCHR had interested party status in the “160 Girls” case), presenting the Meru Senator with a copy of the “160 Girls” decision, and asking him publically to please help ensure its implementation. The Senator, the Meru Governor, and the two Meru M.P.’s rose to accept receipt of the Court’s decision, and pledge to its implementation.
Standing with the girls, jammed in at the start line of the 5K race, seeing them beaming with excitement and delight, and sporting their “Justice is now/here” t-shirts, was a highlight of this memorable event. The girls ran with great pride and determination (and good humour); crossing the finish line with them (following the Governor of Meru, his back decorated with the logos of our t-shirt sponsors, Fasken Martineau and Meredith Cartwright), the girls laughed with satisfaction and we (including the Governor) rejoiced in the moment with high fives and cheers – it felt like one of the inspiring moments of girls’ empowerment that defines the equality effect’s “160 Girls” project.
The work of achieving equality for girls is a marathon, not a sprint; the equality effect would like to express its gratitude at this time to the funders who supported this public education related work (all repeat donors): Brian Cartwright funded the initial 3 “Justice is now/here” billboards; and Fasken Martineau LLP and Meredith Cartwright, lawyer and investor, sponsored the “160 Girls” marathon t-shirts. This support was critical to this recent success – thank you very much /assante sana.
We are also enormously grateful to BBDO advertising for their support in creating the “160 Girls” awareness materials – we literally couldn’t have done it without you.