Thursday, August 18, 2016

Looking over my shoulder: Is this the Kenya we want?

By Esther Wambui- Executive Director for YWLI

9:00pm at the office and I am so scared how I will get home. Yes I am aware of the good company taxis and label will come for me but my heart is panting I need to finish this, two more lines but the question lingering in my head is will I reach home safe? Will the driver respect me? What if I get raped or sexually harassed? Who will I tell, what will I do? What if I go to hospital and the doctor rapes me? How can I leave like this, in fear all the time? Is this the Kenya I really want? I am so disturbed.

These are some of the questions that have been lingering in my head, I see doctors in hospital I keep on thinking are they qualified? I see taxi drivers and I ask myself what if he is a rapist? It was late last year when the news of #MugoWaWairimu broke and exposed deeds done by citizen television. #MugoWaWairimu is a fake doctor who operated on a chain of clinics for women with gynecological issues. He then sedates them and rapes them. When the news broke out and YWLI together with other organizations mobilized, mass action and held a press release to seek for justice. I was outraged, I was hurt, I was frustrated and I was furious. What kind of a man is he? Then it hit me, he has been operating these unscrupulous #Prestige clinics for a long time and he was not ousted by anyone. So who is to blame?

Recently there has been so many news over the internet of young women getting killed by their spouses other pregnant women. A young woman was thrown out of the a third floor building by her spouse, she hit the electric fence and died. This is so sad I ask myself how safe am I even at home in the allegedly safest place. How sure am I that my partner will not turn into a monster and kill me? Am I really safe? Up to when should I keep on looking over my shoulders? Up to when will the justice system in Kenya make it easier for survivors of violence to get justice? Is this the Kenya I want to leave in? Is this the Kenya women want to live in? I ask myself. Is this the Kenya we want?

I was sitting on my desk and I read news just came in of an expectant 10 year old who died due to child birth complications in Kilifi County at the Coastal part of Kenya. She was allegedly raped and got pregnant and the society expects her to carry the baby to term. My colleague has a 9 year old daughter in the office who is so innocent so I imagine the late Rose* is as young as this girl in the office. Why wasn’t she saved? Weren’t there any other choices for this young girl. Who really failed her, is it parents, society, hospital and the perpetrator. Police are saying investigations are underway, now, nine months later. Where were they to get hold of the perpetrator when she got raped? Where were they? Reading comments of this article and Kenyans are asking the same questions, what happen to the perpetrator 9 months before the child went into labour, people are calling out on the government to implement existing laws. My heart is saddened, I am so hurt, outraged, frustrated and feel let down by everyone, society, the government and the justice system.

 I know I have highlighted mostly issues that make me feel unsafe and asking up to when will I look over my shoulder, up to when will the Kenyan women have to be scared every time they walk into a hospital, go to the shop, hop into a taxi or even go home. This is not the Kenya we want. The Kenya we want is that where girls are allowed to be girls and not targets for violence, not brides, a Kenya where women’s choices are upheld, where the government does not treat women as second class citizen, where women have access to affordable and quality health care. That is the Kenya I want to live in. So what can I do to change this narrative?  I can only speak out as much as I can to see the change, as I do not want my life to begin to end. 

Young Women's Leadership Institute (YWLI) is one of the four partner institutes of the African Centers of Excellence (ACE) for Women's Leadership program run by the Institute of International Education (IIE) , Ethiopia Office.

For more on IIE , ACE or YWLI please follow the links below.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

         The Mark of a Great Leader is Personal Mastery 
                                                                                      By Sharon Winyi- African Women Leadership Institute (AWLI) July 2016
I have heard many people share key defining moments in their lives usually when they are celebrating major milestones in their lives such as the big 40, the birth of their children or the start of a new career, but as a young woman who has just completed University I am just beginning my journey to celebrating these milestones.
Last week I was honored to attend the African Women Leadership Institute from 25th-27th July 2016 offered by Akina Mama wa Afrika a leading feminist and transformational leadership development organization. The training encompassed an array of topics and distinguished faculty who inspired us to learn to unlearn in order to re-learn, think critically and aspire to impact on our communities for generations to come.
One of the sessions that really spoke to me was personal mastery, which simply means the discipline of continually clarifying and deepening one's personal vision focusing one's energies, developing oneself  and seeing reality objectively. We all know one can never stop growing physically, mentally, and emotionally. Therefore for me committing to continuous improvement in everything I do in every aspect of my life was a critical learning. This is an ongoing journey of learning, where your results are reflected as feedback for the future, and not failure as often perceived.  Moreover, mastery implies that because you value your innate gifts, you set up structures and support in your life, in order to fully and reliably express them.  The so-called self-discipline, then, is not an act of controlling and punishing one’s self, but is motivated by self-love.
I also learnt that mastery doesn’t block unfolding from within, but catalyzes and sustains it. For some exceptional folks it may be fine to just flow with the spontaneous expression of the self, yet for the rest of us, both inspiration and structure are required. Inspiration alone risks losing momentum, and structure without spirit crumbles in the dust.
After a few days of reflection on all the sessions we had, my life’s mantra is “I need to learn to unlearn in order to relearn.” To me this summaries the essence of life’s past, present and future. In order to effectively succeed in my future am committed to letting go of unworthy aspects in my past to let the present flow. This is something we take for granted on so many levels.
By understanding myself better, I am now ready to learn how to make realistic goals, within a given timeframe. Starting small and working to the big decisions step by step and with caution. I have been able to weigh the pros and cons about myself, this way I can work on my weaknesses,  seek assistance and guidance when am lacking and most of all utilize my strengths for a greater purpose.
For now, my biggest weakness is procrastination due to the availability of time which in this case I have learnt to beef up with commitment (strength) in order to achieve excellence. Having the time to explore all measures and methods to use on whatever assignment I am given.
Living isn’t good enough when there’s room to improve one’s way of life and how this can be achieved. It all starts with you. Your spiritual growth, being aware of your competence and skills, continuously staying in learning mode to improve your value, these are some of the ways one can get in touch with the self to fuel  their development.
All in all one cannot choose to lead others when she can’t lead herself, and as Ms Solome Kimbugwe one of the faculty observed “As leaders we must lead through our actions and ensure that our actions speak for us”
  AKina Mama wa Afrika (AMwA) is one of the four partner institutes of the African Centers of Excellence (ACE) for Women's Leadership program run by the Institute of International Education (IIE) , Sub Saharan Africa- Ethiopia Office.

For more on IIE , ACE or AMwA please follow the links below.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Climate Change and Sustainable Development

 By: Vivian Ngonzi Butamanya, HR Officer Akina Mama wa Afrika (AMwA)

Makerere University Centre for Climate Change Research and Innovations (MUCCRI) convened a short course that was attended between 20 – 25 June 2016 and I was privileged to be a part of this training. The initiative was in response to increasing demand for increasing climate change awareness and building a knowledge base to tackle climate change among practitioners in government, academia, researchers, civil society and private sector.

Climate change is one of major human development challenges of the 21st century. The IPCC Fifth Assessment Report (IPCC AR5) observes that since the mid-19th Century, world average temperatures have increased by about one degree (0.850C), and continue to rise, as a result of increased Greenhouse gas (GhG) emissions from human activities.

While the cause of climate is global through activities that increase GhG emissions, it will lead to different impacts in different countries and regions depending on different economic and environmental condition, and level of vulnerability and ability to cope with the impacts. The conclusion therefore is that since many people in developing countries are highly dependent on natural resources, they are highly vulnerable to the effects of a changing climate. Therefore, climate change will inevitably affect the development prospects of many developing countries, and the attainment of sustainable development. 

There is therefore an urgent need for local and global action through two parallel tracks: adaptation and mitigation. Adaptation because some effects of the climate changes can no longer be avoided and solutions such as new agricultural techniques and adequate infrastructure need to be identified. Mitigation because we need to reduce emission of GhG to reduce the magnitude of the changes.

Addressing climate change in the development context not only has the potential to increase climate resilience and reduce poverty but will also contribute to the achievement of the global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 

The training basically provided an introduction to climate change issues in the context of sustainable development. This learning programme is believed not turn participants into climate change experts; but rather provide an informed platform for engaging in concrete activities in the participants’ organizations and jobs. The programme also introduced common and individual responsibilities and opportunities, and presented tools and mechanisms for adaptation and mitigation actions at organizational and individual level. Through the training, focus was drawn to the understanding of the relationships between climate change and development and the need and the how to integrate climate change response actions in the development agenda.

Important to the women’s agenda and in relation to SDG 5, something that caught my attention was the session on ‘Addressing gender in climate change adaptation and mitigation’. The injustice of climate change is clear, people living in poverty all over the world;  who have done the least to contribute to greenhouse gas emissions that trigger global warming, these are worst affected by climate change impacts. 

Gender inequality is a long-standing and pervasive social injustice. We cannot deliver sustainable development without tackling climate change, and we cannot tackle climate change without tackling the root causes of poverty which is gender inequality. It will only worsen if the injustices of climate change and gender inequality are not tackled together, and fast. 

Moving forward, there’s need for activation of participatory bottom up planning and ensuring Climate change impacts are localized. It’s also critical that Gender analysis and vulnerability assessment be part of development planning tools and last but not least the need for measuring impact and reviews - M&E framework.   

AKina Mama wa Afrika (AMwA) is one of the four partner institutes of the African Centers of Excellence (ACE) for Women's Leadership program run by the Institute of International Education (IIE) , Sub Saharan Africa- Ethiopia Office.

For more on IIE , ACE or AMwA please follow the links below.