Increasing women’s capability to participate in meetings

  • Date: 23/09/2019
  • Author: Caroline Nkirote

In Kenya, we are working with 500 hard to reach women in two counties. Here, we have learned that it is women’s lack of capability to attend training meetings that is holding them back.

I have seen tremendous changes in their lives as a result of our Women’s Rights Programme. Identifying problems is important but the way we intervene is key in realising change. I love our programme because it’s adaptable and encourages ongoing learning. Our behaviour change approach – analysing capability, opportunity and motivation – has been instrumental in sustained behaviour changes.

We analysed their capability to attend meetings

In Kishushe for example, the hard to reach women live difficult lives. Their daily struggles are so bad that they hardly have time to attend to any meeting. Here many people cannot read or write, many don’t go on to secondary school and the land is extremely dry. This year the community is looking at drought as there hasn’t been sufficient rainfall. ActionAid and the community recognises that more women attending and participating in meetings and training would help make long-lasting changes happen. At these meetings we provide training and knowledge to enable them to challenge inequalities in their community and demand gender responsive services.

Our task has been to introduce these women to a local women’s group, Sauti Ya Wanawake. Also we gave them information on how and where they can access group meetings. In addition, we help them plan their home duties and distribute household tasks among other family members to create time for meetings. We also help with negotiation skills so they’re able to persuade their husbands or fathers to allow them to attend group meetings. Further, as they were secluded, we needed a way to identify and engage with them, so we identified a village representative.

Improved capability in practice

Brenda Mwadabiro, 22, is a mother of three children under four. She said: ‘I am married to a herdsman. I want to say that I have really benefited from meetings conducted by Sauti Ya Wanawake and ActionAid on protecting ourselves, kitchen gardening and unpaid care work. I have really benefited from knowing how to plan my household chores. I have been able to negotiate help from my husband. I rarely found time to leave my house and was completely reliant on my husband to provide.

The best thing that has happened to me right now is that I am getting help from my husband. We plan our day together. I ensure that am ready early in the morning and ride my bike 3.7kms to watering point with 8 jerrycans. I queue and when it’s my turn I fill all of them. My husband then comes and rides the bike home with the jerrycans. This saves me several trips like I used to do earlier on. In the afternoon, I have some time to join other groups and learn. I thank ActionAid and Sauti Ya Wanawake and look forward to more lessons.’

Brenda represents the voices of hard to reach women in the community. As a women’s movement, they are now working to improve access to gender responsive services through our Women’s Rights Programme. Working on the project, it is encouraging every time I meet women like Brenda who have strong testimonies on the impact our work has on their lives.

Read more about our Women’s Rights Programme here.

Photo caption: Brenda Mwadabiro, 22, from Kishushe in Kenya. Photo by Caroline Nkirote/ActionAid

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