Women’s Human Rights Pillar: advancing recognition and appreciation of women’s human rights in the communities against socio-cultural restrictions and negative perceptions by training of rural based women and girls on their rights through community education on legal education; human rights reproductive health and issues of bodily integrity and increasing access to justice.
Visible Impacts: We are seeing significant change in terms of response and advocacy on protection of women and girls. Enrolment and retention of girls in schools in the marginalized areas we have been working in is perhaps one of the most important milestones we have achieved. We have also seen inclusion of women in peace building and decision making forums, once a preserve for many only. Forced circumcision of girls (FGM), early/forced marriages is gradually ebbing away and communities can now openly discuss and tolerate debate on the once conservative and taboo subjects. We are also seeing many male champions emerge to defend women’s rights, including Councils of elders.
Women’s Economic Empowerment Pillar: focusing on grassroots women and women survivors of conflict and gender based violence to promote sustainable livelihood management through offering life skills and entrepreneurship; Providing seed grant to facilitate start-up activities; Linkages to financial institutions, partners and donors; Following-up and psycho-social support.
Visible Impacts: There is a significant number women groups that have emerged out of the women’s bunges who are taking advantage of devolved and affirmative funds in the Counties we operate. This is making women more economically endowed and financially independent, hence reducing cases of gender based violence and also lifting the standards of life in the communities. With this trend, the degree of poverty will gradually reduce as more and more women engage in income generating activities to create wealth.
Peace Building and Conflict Mitigation Pillar: We strengthen the role of rural women and youth groups in mitigating violence in the community, monitoring conflict through early warning indicators and mediating conflicts. Key policies that provide for these are UNSCR 1325 and 1820. RWPL has for over decades incorporated through its strategic polices to work towards increasing protection of women and girls rights within the North Rift region.
Visible Impact: We are more recognized for our role in conflict resolution and have been at the forefront of organizing peace campaigns in successive years, including global events like International Peace Day, World AIDS Day, Day of the African Child, etc. The peace dividend projects we have been involved in such as the Burnt Forest Community Market serve to bring all communities together in fostering a more cohesive, harmonious and tolerant society. The early warning and early response mechanisms have been established within communities as a result of the peace dialogues to the extent that any emerging tension or conflict is dealt with firmly without escalating as previously experienced. Communities are also more receptive to peace actors and calls for action.
Education Support and Mentorship Pillar:
The objective of this vital pillar is to provide access to quality education for girls from underprivileged backgrounds and to motivate young girls to take up leadership roles and participate in decision-making platforms.
The Mentorship and Girls Education Support program targets girls from humble backgrounds who face the risk of dropping out of school and who are often victims of gender discrimination. The program is aligned to SDG 4 (Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all) and SDG 5 (Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls). The program has an open structure that gives opportunity to local and international well-wishers to make an impact in the lives of young needy girls by supporting their formal education. The beneficiaries enrolled in the program are usually identified through RWPL network leaders and school principals who are in a better position to identify a needy student. Every December of each year, RWPL normally convenes an Annual Mentorship Forum that brings together all the students in the program where they get to learn about career development, life skills among other topics.
The program has two long-standing donors: Phyllis and Jack Courtney Endowment Fund and Kenyan Girls Forward initiative.
Phyllis And Jack Courtney Endowment Fund
This joined the program in 2003 and is meant for girls affected by Female Genital Mutilation and offers partial financial support to girls who have been identified as needy by RWPL’s network leaders and school teachers. Others, however, get to be supported fully based on how dire their situation is.
Kenyan Girls Forward
Kenya Girls Forward Initiative was introduced in 2012 following Caroline Jones and Jo Robertson’s visit to Kenya in October 2010. They had an opportunity to interact with many girls who were dropping out of school for a myriad of reasons while at the same time getting to understand about what RWPL’s work in rescuing girls from FGM and supporting their formal education. This greatly inspired them and they had lengthy discussions with RWPL regarding how they could support the work RWPL was doing. KGF was thus born.
Over the years KGF, under the leadership of Caroline and Jo, has brought hope to many lives and has enabled many young girls achieve their dreams. A total of 65 students have been supported since its inception. In 2017, 12 girls being supported by KGF sat for their KCSE examination. Out of these, 8 managed to secure direct entry to universities; this means their school fee is subsidized. The other four are also seeking admissions to join vocational colleges and tertiary institutions to pursue diploma and certificate courses. Currently, the KGF program is supporting 23 girls in high schools and 4 in universities.
Lucy is a vivid testament of the impact the Girl-Child Education and Mentorship has had on needy girls and the communities they hail from. Lucy, from Kapkaragon Village in Nandi County, was a bright young girl who dropped out of school at a young age and got married off by her parents at 16 years of age. Two children later, she found herself being ejected from her matrimonial home by her abusive husband. In 2012, Lucy moved to Eldoret and got herself a job as a house help. As it turned out, RWPL got to hear Lucy’s story through her employer and after establishing that her need was genuine she got enrolled into the program. She finished her high school education scoring a mean grade of C+ and got admission to Laikipia University where she is currently pursuing an undergraduate degree in Education.
Visible Impact: Over 100 girls from vulnerable backgrounds, with compounding problems ranging from forced marriages, early marriages or FGM have been supported through high schools. Of these, 15 have successfully gone through university education and lived to tell their successful stories. Most are now also role models in their communities. Through the mentorship and advocacy outreach, many girls who drop out of school owing to early pregnancies are also being persuaded to resume education, as parents also appreciate the need to sponsor them.
Leadership and Governance Pillar mentoring women leaders through capacity building trainings and exposure to be able to participate in leadership effectively and vie for electable positions and also pursue other areas of leaders.
Visible Impact: Although this pillar faces immense challenges owing to attitudes and cultural norms, there are many indications that women are increasingly claiming their stake in leadership. By engaging Councils of Elders to promote the visibility of women in leadership, the era of devolution and the new Constitution have also added to our advantages in promoting the women and leadership agenda. We are closely working with all relevant women leaders in the areas of operation. Some of the elected women have emerged from women’s bunges to become influential change agents in the communities. Through partnership with the UN Women in an empowerment project, 2 women were elected in the respective County Assembly’s of West Pokot and Nandi. Women and youth are also now accessing the affirmative action and devolution funds. We have also been able to influence the Nandi Council of Elders (Nandi Koburwo) to include 2 women on their committee. Through partnership with Uraia Trust, we have managed to civic educate communities on the role of women in leadership.