Makena Mwobobia tells us firsthand about ActionAid’s women’s rights work in Kenya and how our She CAN… appeal can make a difference to the lives of some of the poorest people around the world.
Kenya has a patriarchal infrastructure, which has a negative impact on the lives of women. However, I have seen what can be achieved when women living in poverty use education to challenge discrimination and injustice. In my time at ActionAid, I have seen over 200 women win the title deeds to their land and others become politicians in county assemblies.
Giving women a voice
One of the ways ActionAid is addressing the issues that women face in Kenya is by establishing and supporting Sauti ya Wanawake (The Voice of Women), a movement designed to give women a voice, individually and collectively.
We support women in Kenya in many ways, from connecting them with women working on similar issues, to educating them on local and international law in their own language of Swahili. Some women have trained as paralegals in order to help their communities.
Spotlight on Mwakirunge dumpsite
This summer, ActionAid’s She CAN… appeal is shining a spotlight on Mwakirunge, a dumpsite near Mombasa. It is a sore sight for anybody with a heart. The dumpsite is surrounded by poverty and crime and the women and girls who live there end up suffering from abuse.
Meet Feddis Mbura
When I visited Mwakirunge with my colleagues, we were shocked by the living conditions of the communities who lived there. When we were going around the site meeting families in their homes, one woman in particular stood out.
Feddis Mbura was confident and passionate about the issues facing her community. She gathered other women for further discussions and is now the leader of Sauti ya Wanawake for Mwakirunge, elected by the other women in her community.
Feddis also enrolled herself back into high school and graduated last year. She is now a role model for young people in Mwakirunge and is supporting them to stop working at the site and to return to school.
Social change is needed
Feddis represents the kind of change we are looking for but the conditions of her environment are harsh. We must tackle and eliminate the culture of violence against women that surrounds her and so many of Kenya’s women and girls.
We must make sure they can access alternative sources of livelihood and that their basic rights — such as healthcare and legal aid — are delivered by local government. With their basic rights protected, women and girls in Kenya can spend more time on their own development and that of their families and communities.
When it comes to discrimination and violence against women, enough is enough.
Please stand in solidarity with us and say no to violence against women and yes to giving women and girls the opportunity to realise their dreams.
Please support ActionAid’s She CAN… appeal and help women like Feddis educate themselves and their families so they can reach their potential.
Kate Holt/Shoot The Earth/ActionAid