Agnes Kola, who is ActionAid’s National Women’s Rights Coordinator in Kenya, visited Ireland in September 2019 to share successes from the work on the ground.
Agnes has been instrumental in leading ActionAid’s Women’s Rights Programme in Kenya which is funded by Irish Aid, that has seen a huge improvement to the lives of some of the world’s poorest women and their communities.
During her visit she attended the International Congress of Parliamentary Women’s Caucuses on 9-10 September 2018 in Dublin Castle. She also spoke at two ActionAid events in Dublin and Cork, where she updated supporters and the public on how their generous donations are changing the lives of communities in Kenya.
Here is Agnes’s blog from her week in Ireland:
My visit to Ireland was very insightful in many ways. I attended the International Congress of Parliamentary Women’s Caucuses 2018 – a landmark meeting bringing together caucuses from 45 countries in the world and my country Kenya participated but not as much as I would have loved to see. I would have loved to see the leaders there from the Kenya Women’s Parliamentary Association (KEWOPA).
The aim of the conference was to take stock on how the caucuses have performed over time in terms of influencing the spaces they are in and sharing the challenges they face. It was good to see the amount of progress that women in politics have made and to realise there is still a lot that we as civil society can do to support them within that space, to make caucuses effective. Some countries did not have caucuses at all, most are not well resourced and still face challenges on how they can meet and push for their issues. My take home is that ActionAid Kenya will reach out to KEWOPA with lessons from countries like Pakistan and Tanzania to help them to be able to re-strategise and focus on issues that will bring change in the lives of women and girls.
We also had a productive meeting with Irish Aid who fund the Women’s Rights programme, who had great interest in our new programme and generally in what is happening in countries. Our new Behaviour Change approach is very critical, for me it could act a gamechanger because of its uniqueness and ability to bring in results that are far reaching.
I also attended and spoke at ActionAid’s public event ‘From Kenya to Cork – Women’s Empowerment’ in Cork. It enabled me to see how lessons can be drawn from either direction especially from ActionAid Kenya’s work on Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)- we have consistently worked on FGM in Kenya and AAIreland has been able to pick what has worked in Kenya to build a strong programme with migrants in Ireland.
The testimonies of graduates from the programme in Cork made me realise that women across the world, regardless of where they are, face a huge amount of marginalisation, exclusion and abuse. Therefore our strategic direction in ActionAid is important to be able to help them overcome those issues, using lessons from Kenya and Ireland and other programme countries. We need to continually deepen our analysis so that our initiatives speak to the real issues that women face.
It was a pleasure to meet with some of ActionAid’s child sponsors and supporters who made me realise how humble people collectively have been able to support in great projects across the world and we shouldn’t take it for granted that they are giving generously and our accountability should be to ensure that every cent they give goes towards making the lives of our communities better.
I am thankful to AAIreland for organising the visit and enabling me to see a cross section of their work- projects in Ireland, child sponsorship, donors- it helps me to be able to see the vision of AAIreland and AAKenya’s contribution to enabling its success.