Vulnerable girls fetching firewood basic needs and education.
Vulnerable girls fetching firewood basic needs and education. : The are orphans left with grandmother who send them to collect firewood to sell for food and basic needs. They have no time for finishing their homework and cause them to hate school due to purnishment.
  • The vulnerable girls from collecting firewood  sometimes raped but they do not report.
  • Rural girsl in primary school what they go through in Koru
  • the children are cleaned and jiggers removed. Mothers claim they cannot afford clean water...
  • The youth  idling place in watamu
  • The fourteen years old girl is pregnant
  • Chief

The concern and inclusion of women in leadership position and decision making was not of central concern to most governments prior to the first women’s conference held in 1975 in Mexico. President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe is on record 1998 advising women of Zimbabwe not to get married if they want to own land and get into leadership position. President Museveni of Uganda in the year 2000 during the women’s international day urged the women not to commercialise their marriage if they want equality. President Daniel Moi in 1995 watered down the action points from the Beijing platform for action saying ‘if women want equality what job is left for men now” (Tamala, 2004). This clearly demonstrates how difficult it was to address gender issues. However the Kenya Government has made progress in the area of policy, legal and institutional framework, but the implementation of these provisions, particularly the area of decision making and women participation at grassroots is still lagging behind.  

Elderly and illiterate women get nominated to school committees just to fulfil the gender gap, where they are positioned as treasurers just to append their signatures while they cannot even explain the expenditures. With very little allowance, they cover corruption that goes on in the school committees. This to me is a psychological violence to the elderly women and must end.  I have witness this during evaluation of community projects in different parts of Kenya. The absence of well-informed women in local leadership positions in equal proportional to their numbers has a direct effect on their personal development, quality of life and decision making process.   

The representation of women in positions of leadership is not proportional to their numbers. Women still have minimal access to information, education opportunities and even decision making process.  (Bergdall, 1995) says it is not only tragic but dehumanizes since they are the caretakers of families and should give input to planning and development agenda. ( Synader and  Tadesse 1995) quoting Robert Gardiner underscored key function of women participation saying “it is close to impossible to overcome ignorance without the women who are the first teachers out of our children”. This means that women play a key role in education, regrettably they are not actively involved in key decision making at grass roots; leave alone the higher learning, where most heads of departments are men. In Kenya out of fifteen public universities only one vice chancellor is a lady.  For this reason I have taken personal initiative to motivate girls and women at grassroots to take education matters more seriously.

A chicken and egg situation; where poverty contributes to girl’s poor education performance and vice- versa. I met several girls from rural schools fetching firewood after school to support their parents and guardians. Regrettably some boys do follow girls in places where they are fetching firewood and considering their vulnerability some of them are raped, while others are introduced into early sexual relationship!!!, leading to teenage pregnancy and early marriages.  I am left wondering where are the women leaders?, Are they really aware of what is happening to their children and other fellow women?, and if so what are they doing about it? Are women really empowered with information to be able to make informed opinion and choices? Are women well represented in any key school committees or board? Do they have a platform to be heard and to make critical decisions?, are elderly women  really happy to be used in the said committees due to their vulnerability?, Do they get intimidated and therefore fear victimization and cannot speak their mind? How are the appointments and nominations done? Is it free and fair? Who should be blamed, culture, religion, bad governance, systems or women themselves? Is it poverty or ignorance or dependency syndrome?

The motivational talks to girls in primary schools have yielded positive impact despite the transport constraints to enable wider coverage; we remained sensitive to the needs of the girls and women to restore their sense of pride, hope and confidence to take responsibility of their suffering. During a visit to Kilifi County, we realize high  teenage pregnancy and in my quest for answer, I was led to a youth scene as early as 9A.M,  the youth converge for smoking and drinking coconut wine placing themselves strategically to lure vulnerable girls into sex with few coins for buying “ndazi” doughnuts. The men on the other hand wake up to drinking and back home demanding for food and sex.  The women here are frustrated, the circle of illiteracy goes round and therefore taking education matters seriously for their children may not be important or a priority.  Their children are infested with jiggers, which affects their concentration in schools and further contributes to poor school attendance and hence poor education performance.   

When women participate actively in decision making organs such as education, they gain the ownership of education process themselves; feel empowered and confident in contributing to education matters of their children. Hopefully women participation in education would motivate even the illiterate mothers to go for adult education. When the education standard of a given community is improved that community is able to develop holistically and make businesses and network, thereby becoming socially economically and politically empowered. You will agree with me that it is easy to bend a tree while it’s small than when it’s fully grown. Ladies let us participate actively and effectively in our children education at all costs. Let us try our best to show them the way while they are young than condemning the situation once it’s out of hand. Nothing good comes for free, we must work for it. It is time to pick the tools with our power of influence and participate actively in the change we want, being aware of cultural barriers, region and top down government approaches. Women you are the backbone of development go go go girl!!!  

 

Achieng Jayne Wasonga (Nyapaul)

Take action! This post was submitted in response to The Path to Participation Initiative from World Pulse and No Ceilings.

Comment on this Post

Comments

Dear Nyapaul,

Thank you so much for sharing. I really enjoyed reading about some of the history of different presidential points of views. The story that you told about how women are used to cover corruption on committees is so disheartening to hear. Women should be treated with respect and be given access to education and positions in the government and gain empowerment. Thank you again for sharing.

Sincerely, Alyssa Rust  

Thank you my dear Alyssa. You are very right it is very important that women are given space to exercise their democratic right and capability.  Collectively we shall succeed. Thank you for your time to read and comment I am encouraged. 

Nyapaul

Nyapaul

Hello Nyapaul, 

Thank you for this beautiful article. You have really done research to make it thorough with historical facts and real stories of people's lives around you. Your article mentioning women being placed in positions where they do not really contribute as decision-makers but were merely placed there to "fill in the gender gap" made me realize how so much effort we really still have to put into achieving gender equality. 

You have also shown in your article that breaking gender inequality has to start from the top leadership. Without support from the leaders, the efforts to achieve it will be more difficult. 

Women have to realistically participate as leaders and decision-makers if we are to move forward.

My best wishes to you.

 

Lylin

Yes my dear Lylin all is well, the glass is half full. We have come a long way and by now we know that men do not accept women leadership easily, but very soon it shall be well. We are almost there.

Thank you my regrets in delay responding.

Love you

Nyapaul

Hello Nyapaul, 

This is enlightening ... goes to show that a lot have been said in different context and situation but still the implementation and enforcement is still a challenge. Bringing those words forward to enact change is still very minimal -- we need to recruit more advocate to ensure that the words turn into actions and eventually (ideally) achieve what we aim for.

But for now, I laud you for doing something to bridge the gap and achieve small wins. Women if given an opportunity to do something for themselves and for the others we will be surprised how much they can achieve without encroaching the spaces of men as feared by many when we talk about equality. 

Let's continue to our aim -- education, participation and empowerment for women.

All the best. 

Coolasas

Your heart is free. Have the courage to follow it. Malcom Wallace (Braveheart) www.mydecadelongtravels.wordpress.com

Thank you Coolasas, that is the spirit we must stand up and be counted for each other. Sorry I tried the site mydadelongtravels didnot open I will try again later.

Cheers Nyapaul

Nyapaul

Hello Nyapaul, boy, you put a lot of information into your article. I'm afraid there are still many of the dictators left in Africa, along with the corruption that finances them. As long as people like Macabe are tolerated there will be gender violence and discrimintion.

I like your idea of how educating girls and women can permanently change things-tip the scales toward equality. Your article is well written and positive. May I encourage you, Nyapaul to keep talking, writing and sharing your vision with your sisters?

Thank you that is the spirit of empowerment. Remember fishing and fish. Show me how to fish and tomorrow will do it alone. Empower the girls and tomorrow they will effect change desired both for them and the community.

Thank you Nyapaul

Nyapaul

Dear Nyapul,

Thank you for sharing the story. It is interesting to know that based on historical content, the view of women is shifting over time depends on the leader. I always believe in Nelson Mandela strong words 'Education is the most powerful sword to get out of powerty'. This is also applied to gender inequality situation. I believe that with education, we can construct a more broader perspective for both women and men that their position should be equal at home, work place, in the society and everywhere. By creating a more gender equal society, it will lead to a more powerful nation.

 

Best,

 

Olivia