by Sharon Mwende, Kenya Connect Intern
Every year, March 8 is celebrated as International Women’s Day which has been observed since the early 1900s. It is a global holiday celebrated annually to commemorate the cultural, political, and socioeconomic achievements of women. It is also a focal point in the women’s rights movement, bringing attention to issues such as gender equality, reproductive rights, and violence and abuse against women. This day is not specific to any country, group or organization. The day belongs to women everywhere and its aim to create a gender equal world.
This year’s theme in celebrating women’s day is ‘Break the Bias”
Imagine a gender equal world
A world free of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination.
A world that is diverse, equitable, and inclusive.
A world where difference is valued and celebrated.
Together we can forge women’s equality.
Individually, we’re all responsible for our own thoughts and actions all day, every day. We can break the bias in our communities. We can break the bias in our workplaces. We can break the bias in our schools, colleges and universities.
Women play a huge role in the society and their families, but these roles have often been overlooked for so many years. However, that has been changing due to the empowerment of women in the community as part of community development process. Nowadays, more and more people are starting to appreciate that while they are often tasked with just household roles, women can do a lot more. Throughout history, the central role of women in society has ensured the stability, progress and long-term development goals of nations.
Women are caretakers, farmers, educators and entrepreneurs. Women are caretakers of children and elders in every country of the world. They play a key role in supporting their households and communities in achieving food and nutrition security, generating income and improving rural livelihoods and overall well-being. Women also contribute to a society’s transition from pre-literate to literate since it is the mother in the family who most often urges children of both genders to attend and stay in school and basic education is key to a nation’s sustainability targets. Moreover, today, the median female share of the global workforce is 45.4 percent. Women’s formal and informal labor can transform a community from a relatively autonomous society to a participant in the national economy. Globally, women comprise 43 percent of the world’s agricultural production comes from small farmers, most of whom are rural women, its widely accepted that agriculture can be the engine of growth and poverty reduction in developing countries.
Despite the crucial roles that women play, they are faced with various problems such as gender-based violence, female genital mutilation, gender inequality for example discrimination in job opportunities, access to resources such as education etc. Therefore, women should be protected from harm and inequality since they are the backbone of our societies based on the important roles they play even in ensuring a nation’s development.
However, all hope is not lost. Kenya Connect, an organization with a vision to harnesses the power of education to drive sustainable development in the community is playing a huge role in empowering the women in the society. Kenya Connect has various programs such as the LitMoms program and the Wings Poa program that empower women in Wamunyu. The LitMoms program empowers women with skills on how to support their children in school. It also equips the moms with various skills such as sewing and crocheting so that they can generate their income through the products they make including bags and mats. The program also entails women’s welfare. The women get together and discuss matters concerning their finances and this enables them grow financially.
The Wings Poa program empowers the girl child. Through the program girls, both in primary schools and secondary schools get to learn more about menstrual hygiene and how to take better care of themselves. Girls also get Wings Poa menstrual kits that can be recycled to ensure sustainability and accessibility for those who cannot afford synthetic sanitary pads. Through the Wings Poa program and Girl/Boy empowerment, girls also learn more about their sexual health and this information helps reduce instances of teenage pregnancies which allow the girls continue with their education and have a successful future.
Kenya Connect supports the Girl Child through the Library program, access to technology, and after school enrichment program. We are preparing them with 21st skills along with helping them to build confidence and independence.
With more funding Kenya Connect will be able to enroll more women into the LitMom program and equip them with more skills that they require to generate income to sustain themselves and their families. The organization will also come up with more programs and resources that will be used to empower the women and teach them how they can depend on themselves. These funds will also be used to acquire more materials for making the Wings Poa kit to cater for the girls’ menstrual needs an also acquire sanitary pads that can be distributed to more schools. We are especially pleased to be the 2022 Beneficiary of the Mothers’ Day Movement that will help support our programs for women and girls.
Through all these, we will create a community and a world that is gender equal meaning it will be free of bias and discrimination, there will be diversity, equity and inclusion where differences are valued and celebrated. Young girls will also grow up to become women who are empowered and in the long run our nation will grow since the women are at the core of the growth of every nation.