Happy Women's Month

Invest in women

Zawadisha's women march on the IWD

An African Woman's Take on How To #BeBoldForChange

International Women's Day and Women's History Month is about celebrating the role of women and campaigning for their rights. Africa is in a phase, where almost everything matters and still nothing matters at the same time. It is a continent straddling old and new – traditional ways of life intertwined with fast-growing economies – it remains at times looking for its new identity. And it is this traditional way of life that is changing, at times for the worst, but at times, with regards to women's rights, for the better.

International Women's Day from an African woman perspective had its own phase. Women are being celebrated in Africa and this is forming a new wave. The media has shaped some of our perspectives on how women are observed, especially in urban areas.
 

However, to most us, celebrating the day of women takes us back. You see, an African woman experiences the proverbial nine lives of a cat. She is a wife, a mother, a farmer, a carpenter, a teacher, a priest, a counselor, a creator. All of this wrapped together in a box inside her: the phenomenal woman, with the nine lives vibrantly living in her heart.

 

With her little exposure, knowledge, and education, she was (or is at times) believed to be a slave to her masters, the male counterparts. She was best suited in the kitchen, tirelessly cooking for her large family hour after hour.The kitchen firewood smoke burnt her graceful eyes, her fingers soaked in black dust from the charcoal. She bore few scratches as she split the firewood using the axes. She carried jerry cans on her back, in her head, from streams kilometers away. She cannot afford a rest. Her beloved family would greatly suffer. No one empathized with her and bails her out, even for a day.
 

She religiously pleased her man. Gave birth like she was paid to do so. Yet she lived in extreme poverty. Her station was after all in the house, at the family farm, at home. Year in and out, her belly popped, and a child was born. And the cycle repeated itself.


She toiled the farm with a baby on the back, under the scorching sun, she endured the cold July, with her baby gently wrapped in lesos under a banana tree. She woke up early to prepare her children to school before the cock and prayed for her families before day began. The wee hours of the morning, as the majority are still tossing in bed, saw her up, chirping together with the beautiful birds, ready to usher the day, ready to live her nine lives. Ready to make a mark in the society.
 

This woman has been too powerful, yet it’s hard to believe, with all her armour, with all her hidden strength, she was under authority. She was invisible and unheard. She was neglected, abused, rejected, and undermined. She wished, dreamed, and hoped.
 

This month we celebrate this woman who has been fighting for her liberation, for her freedom, for her education. She has accomplished and conquered the odds. She is liberated, she is educated and she now makes her choices on her own. She has fought hard to be a teacher, a banker, a doctor, a farmer and all. She continues to cause rumble because of who she is. All that was needed was a little awakening of her vibrant nine lives, which she has multiplied to became a career woman, an advocate of her rights, an educationist in her society, a role model.

She continues to soar higher every day through the enlightenment. She is no longer a voiceless kitchen being who had no life off home, who never in her wildest dreams could imagine the feel of the wheel, who never imagined could be an advocate for her rights with no fear of shut-down, who never imagined herself going for a holiday at the beach, and just soak in the sand as she enjoys her breeze on her back. She is gracefully conquering heights and making tremendous impact in her life and society. She is at the forefront to make a world a better place, and whenever she goes, her presence cannot be ignored. You inhale her presence in your nostrils, as she is too powerful, and you can’t distinguish her dreams.
 

She is a confident woman now and makes things happen wherever she steps, at home, workplace, or her social life. She is still the woman with a little grease under her fingernails on her perfectly pedicured nails, she is not afraid of the dirt. She is down to making her world a better place, at whatever cost.
 

"Give the girl the right shoes and she will conquer the world."

We celebrate these women this month.
 

The Women of Kasigau: Meet the Bungule Women's Group

From left to right: Dorocus, Elpina, Josephine, Eunice, Margaret, Christine, Emarline, Hope, and Dorine

From left to right: Dorocus, Elpina, Josephine, Eunice, Margaret, Christine, Emarline, Hope, and Dorine

Editor's note: This post is a new approach for Zawadisha. Normally we feature the women who we currently with in Kenya. But we recognize the importance of telling the stories about the women who are waiting patiently for their water tanks, their solar lamps, their clean cook stoves. Our community includes them, and we want to share their stories with you. You can help us fund them by donating to Zawadisha and typing Bungule in the memo line.

 

“The more you work hard, the more you get.” - Group mantra

 

Meet the Bungule Women Basket Weavers, the very first women’s group to form in the rural Kasigau area located approximately eight hours south of Nairobi.  By joining together, the women have empowered each other and inspired more independence in each other.  Through basket weaving and growing vegetables in their greenhouse, they now earn additional money to that helps them “stand on their own two feet," as they like to say in Kenya. The women are not solely dependent on their husbands as the only providers of income, and the result is that they now are able to determine the necessities that they need. This group leads by example and has inspired others in the area to form similar groups.  


The women’s group has participated in table banking for the last year, where the women contribute a small amount to the group each month so that a different member can take out a loan.  Once they have taken a loan they pay a higher rate until the loan is paid back.  This practice has instilled the discipline to pay back their loans and opened so many more opportunities.  Now if they need money to pay for their children’s school fees they have somewhere to turn.  Loans of water tanks and iron sheets will help the women to collect more water at their homes.  This will keep them from having to walk long distances to collect water and allow them more time to weave baskets which is their primary source of income.


Chairlady: Christine Nyange is the chairlady of the Bungule Women basket weavers.  She has lead the group since it was founded 13 years ago.  The group works based off the principle, “The more you work hard, the more you get.”  She leads the group by ensuring that everyone is sharing ideas and working together.

Meet Our Members | Florence Katiwa

“We’ve now gotten multiple avenues to be able to advance, so it can get nothing but better” [CLICK TO TWEET]


Z: Please tell us a little about yourself and your family -- where did you grow up, do you have brothers/sisters, how many children do you have now...

F: I was born and raised in Machakos in a house of 2 kids from my immediate parents. My father later remarried, and had 6 other kids, bringing the total to 8 kids. I also schooled in Machakos. I got married in Shinda Hills. Eventually my husband wanted his own land, and bought land in Marungu. We then moved and have lived here ever since. I have four kids.

 

Z: What is your most memorable experience as a child?

F: When we were kids, we were playing outside in a compound that was made up of homes with grass thatched roofs. While we were playing, we decided to play around with fire. One of the kids threw the stick upwards that had some fire, and it landed on the house that stored all our food, which of course went up in flames. When our parents returned, we were severely beaten, and I have never forgotten that.

 

Z: What has changed in your village/Kenya since you were a young girl?

F: Education. People did not place focus on education for female students. Not so much anymore.

 

Z: Now that you are a grown woman, what is the one thing that you are most proud of?

F: I a proud of having being married and having a homestead to call my own, and that I am able to manage my homestead. I go back home to my own place.

 

Z: What brings you joy?

F: The progress that Zawadisha brings us.

 

Z: What does the future look like for you, your family, and your community?

F: It will be easier and better than it has been. We’ve now gotten multiple avenues to be able to advance, so it can get nothing but better.

 

Z: What do you want other people to know about you, your family, and/or your community?

F: To know how much me and my life have changed due to joining a group.

 

Z: If you could change one thing in this world, what would it be?

F: If I could go back and be a child again, I would push myself through studying. I have learned too late about the importance of education.

Meet Our Members | Devota Mwambingu

“I am proud of the fact that I am able to stand for myself, on my own,” Devota, Zawadisha member. [TWEET THIS]

Meet Devota, who since joining Zawadisha, has been able to stand for herself and explore multiple avenues to be able to help her family and community grow. Take a moment to read how her life has changed--the return on what seems like a small investment will amaze you.

 

Z: Please tell us a little about yourself and your family -- where did you grow up, do you have brothers/sisters, how many children do you have now, what tribe do you belong to.

D: I was born and raised in Mugange which is close to Voi. i studied up until Standard 8, then i got married immediately after that. After i got married, i moved to Itinyi. I have 5 kids.

 

Z: What is your most memorable experience as a child?

D: My father was driving a trailer, got into an accident, and broke his leg. He had to have mental placed into his leg. I remember that because it was at this point that our home family life drastically changed. Life became harder because we now had to depend on my mother.

 

Z: What has changed in Kenya since you were a young girl?

D: The growth in groups which have helped us. We are able to take more risks financially and explore multiple avenues to be able to help our family grow and become more stable.

 

Z: Now that you are a grown woman, what is the one thing that you are most proud of?

D: I am proud of the fact that i am able to stand for myself, on my own. Even if my husband decided to leave, I would now be stuck. I know that the lessons have learned have allowed me to know that i could stand on my own if I needed to.

 

Z: What brings you joy?

D: Progress. Overall progress of my family and of the community.

 

Z: What does the future look like for you, your family, and your community?

D: As i continue to send my kids to school, i see a future for them, and for me that means all of them have completed school.

 

Z: What do you want other people to know about you, your family, and/or your community?

D: That the women in groups have advanced and are able to make a lasting impact, as opposed to those not in groups.

 

Z: If you could change one thing in this world, what would it be?

D: That the governments would revise education policies and allow children to study for free, which would give lots of children greater access to school.