Location InfoKisii, KenyaDescription
The Women Empowerment Challenge is a PAR-project which originates from the outcomes of the Female Rights Challenge. During the Female Rights Challenge -about female circumcision and the right for women to make their choice in this- local women decided to focus first on enhancing economic independence as a first step towards the ability to make independent decisions on female circumcision. As such,in this Women Empowerment Challenge, we decided to look at the different self-help groups in Nyaribari Chache Constituency to identify opportunities for economic enhancement for women.
The aim of the Women Empowerment Challenge was to find out whether and how self-help groups in Kisii have worked for local women (and men) and what can be done to further improve the system. The question we wanted to answer was whether and how women are empowered economically (and otherwise) through the self-help groups. To answer this question, we investigated what benefits if any the community received from these groups and what challenges or barriers they had. We also wanted to find out if one of the barriers was culture-related. This was going to tie back to the previous 7Senses Challenge -the Female Rights Challenge, which we conducted in 2016 where we looked at women’s rights with regards to female circumcision.
Details Women Empowerment Challenge
The 7Senses Challenge is an intensive 12-week program for students, post-graduates and professionals. In a multi-disciplinary, international team they perform Participatory Action Research in the field to boost community empowerment while at the same time work on their own personal and professional development.
|Challenge name||Women Empowerment Challenge|
|Start date||January 2017|
|Number of participants||1|
|Number of local researchers||2|
Each Challenge design starts from a community issue, addressed by its problem owners at location. As such, we make sure the Challenge is based on local demand rather than donor demand. Together with these local stakeholders, we design the Challenge in a way that fits the local context, from the problem framing up to methodology and concept definitions.
To find out whether and how these self-help groups work for the women (and men) in Kisii and to co-create together with local stakeholders suitable solutions to improve the effectivity of the SHGs.
What benefits if any does the community receive from these SHGs?
What challenges or barriers do the SHGs face?
What do local stakeholders see as potential solutions to improve the effectivity of SHGs?
Other stakeholders that we approached were county national government workers. The government has different roles both on the county and national level that assist the self-help groups. We also interviewed local leaders and the chief as well as few non-profit organizations that work with the people in the community. Another group of people we approached were women who were not associated with any self-help groups.
We interviewed 38 people from seven different Self Help Groups (SHG) in Kisii county. While we were investigating what women are doing to empower themselves, we realized we could not do that without also talking to the men, because while some of the SHG consist only of women, some of the women were getting the money to contribute from their spouses and some of the groups also included men. One interviewee said her SHG started out with only women, but the men saw the benefits from the group and decided to join.
We approached seven SHG in Nyaribari Chache, and three others in Kisii town, Tabaka and Mobaracho (the results were put in tables that below) We also interviewed three aspiring leaders, since 2017 was an election year, three journalists, the chief of the area, two workers from the county office and one worker from the national office.
Women empowerment, Self-Help Groups, independency, economic enhancement, corruption
Each Challenge delivers direct outcomes for the local community on the addressed issue: we can share how many people have been reached, what their perspective is on the current and desired situation and what final Community Action Plan (CAP) they have co-created and implemented. In a later stage, local stakeholders will evaluate the impact of the CAP.
Since corruption was a big problem, the stakeholders decided to tackle it in small steps. One participant stated that the problem would be tackled if there was community mobilization. The first step to mobilize the community was to get civic education so that the community members would get knowledge on what they needed to do as citizens and what their rights were. Both participants in this challenge and the female rights challenge stated that people in the community need some kind of education on how to enhance themselves.
Even though some of the organizations that tried to educate the community were targeted by the politicians, the participants stated that there should be a way for the community members to get education. The representative from the national government was willing to assist the different SHG that had not registered to do so. One of the aspiring leaders volunteered to get a local organization that provides civic education (Uraia Trust) to start with training the people in the community, and we attended the first training the following week.
“ Corruption is difficult to prove. You can’t stop corruption as an individual, but as a community. Letters can be written to the Office of Registrar of Political Parties. Also, talk about what you learned when you go home”
The second training was to be arranged by the local community. The stakeholders also agreed to create a rapport amongst themselves.
The program coordinator of ADRA who we got in touch with after the focus group meeting stated that the organization provided adult education workshops to one SHG in particular since most of the members in the different SHGs were not educated. She also stated that the organization spoke to the members of the SHGs about the disadvantages of female circumcision and the fact that it is outdated. While this seemed successful, the coordinator stated that the drawback that ADRA had was the fact that they could only reach out to few SHG because of lack of funding. She stated that ADRA would be willing to work with other local organizations to provide education on several topics to the community members.
We had one last meeting, where the different SHG members agreed to pick two people in each of the SHG and two from the non-members group who would act as the spokespeople.
They agreed to make sure that they give information about the civic education training to the other members/group as well as any communication they would have with the national and county governments and the administration. They also agreed to forward any questions that the members had to these institutions. The spokespeople then signed an agreement and each of the groups got certificates for their participation.
The impact of this Challenge has not been measured yet. As soon as we have results of the impact measurement, it will be presented here.
Coordinator & Action Researcher
Mary Gesare Getugi
Sustainable Development Goals
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