Case study

Giving women a voice in Kenya

How UK aid is helping women take up leadership roles

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Janet (in checked jacket) with fellow young women leaders in training. Photo: Forum Syd

Janet is a young woman from Kuresoi sub-county in Nakuru County. She is one of 60 young women leaders from a variety of counties who have had the opportunity to receive training in leadership processes thanks to support from UK aid.

Janet and her counterparts across Kenya have had the opportunity to receive training in a variety of fields and mentorship from Kenyan, Rwandan and Swedish specialists through the Jua Jimbo project which is supported by UK aid through the Department for International Development’s Drivers of Accountability Programme (DAP), and implemented by Forum Syd. The training includes modules in personal leadership, political leadership, business acumen, governance, and human rights. The Jua Jimbo project is aimed at reversing the trend among young Kenyan women of non-participation in village- or county-level governance and decision-making processes.

“Since I got involved in the Jua Jimbo project, I have seen a lot of changes both in myself and the entire community. Firstly, the project has helped me become assertive so I can now stand in front of the whole community to express my views without fear of being physically or verbally attacked,” says Janet. “I have since been involved in public forums to talk about community issues; something that has got me really interested in devolution and leadership”.

UK aid is supporting DAP with £20 million (approximately Ksh 3.9 billion) between 2010-15 to enhance public participation in decision-making by Kenyan youth and women. As a result, 5.6 million Kenyans, of whom 2.7 million were women, received voter and civic education prior to Kenya’s general elections in 2013.

“I now feel I have a responsibility to be a voice for the unheard in the community by advocating for their issues. My society is very patriarchal and not many women express opinions on the issues affecting them in open public forums. The young women leadership project was really helpful as we young women can now participate in decision-making processes confidently. All it required was a change of mentality and attitude,” adds Janet.

Published 7 October 2015