Empowering Rural Women in Kenya

Empowering Rural Women in Kenya

Around the world, those in rural areas face inequality when it comes to access to services, resources and education. Women are particularly badly affected. That is why we are supporting WWSF’s 17 Days of Activism for the Empowerment of Rural Women and their Communities (1st-17th October), a campaign calling for the empowerment of rural women globally as a means to help achieve an end to extreme poverty and discrimination.

The Millenium Development Goals were put in place by the UN from 2000 to 2015. They were replaced by the UN Sustainable Development goals (SDGs) with targets to address extreme poverty globally, while promoting equality in gender and education as well as environmental sustainability by 2030. On all but the fourth MDG goal (reducing mortality of children under 5), women are falling behind. It is up to governments and civil society to empower citizens to see women’s rights as human rights in order to begin redressing the balance.

Empowering rural women: Tailoring training graduates from IPI
Tailoring training graduates from IPI

Rural women represent more than a quarter of the world’s population (roughly 1.6 billion). They form the backbone of rural and national economies, comprising 43% of the world’s agricultural labour force, and up to 70% in some countries. Yet, despite the fact that (in 2014) 145 out of 195 countries guaranteed equality between women and men in their constitutions:

  • Women make up 70% of the world’s poor.
  • Rural women are less likely to work for wages than rural men and typically work longer hours than men.
  • Rural women represent two-thirds of all illiterate people. Only 39% of rural girls attend secondary school.
  • Women and children across the globe spend 140 million hours each day collecting water.
Women harvesting lettuce leaves
Woman harvesting lettuce leaves

Within Africa specifically:

  • 80% of the agricultural production comes from small farmers, the majority of whom are rural women. Making up the largest percentage of the workforce in the agricultural sector, women do not have access and control over all land and productive resources.

Evidence indicates that if rural women had the same access to productive resources as men, they could increase yields on their farms by up to 30%, raising total agricultural output in developing countries by 2.5-4% and, in turn, reducing the number of hungry people in the world by as much as 17%.

In Kenya alone:

  • Women own only roughly 1 percent of agricultural land and receive just 10% of available credit, yet provide 80% of Kenya’s farm labor and manage 40% of the country’s smallholder farms.

Our partner in Kenya, International Peace Initiatives, is participating in this awareness raising event by hosting 3 awareness raising events, doing a radio talk show, writing newspaper articles (locally and nationally) and distributing pamphlets, all of which are highlighting women’s contribution in eradicating poverty, building sustainable peace in Meru County through demonstrating tangible projects that have made this possible.

In my work with the women, they came to ask me what I can do for them. I said to them, first of all they have to tell me what they want to do for themselves. So we worked with the women to create initiatives that actually enable them to create businesses: they learn a skill like detergent making and jewllery making and they will use these skills to create a business, either as a group or individually. – Dr Karambu Ringera, founder of International Peace Initiatives, Kenya

Dr Karambu Ringera with Lillian
Dr. Karambu Ringera with Lillian, skills training graduate

Through skills training and empowerment courses funded by Ecologia, International Peace Initiatives have empowered many women to not only take control of their own lives and support their families, but to empower others in their communities.

The skills I acquired from the tailoring classes at IPI really transformed my life. With the garment skills I acquired from IPI, I am now able to support my husband meet some of the family needs. I am very grateful to IPI for sponsoring me to acquire these life changing skills. – Lillian, 30

I am using what I learned at IPI School of Clothing and Textile to earn a more decent income. Though am still employed at someone’s workshop I know with time I will be able to open my own garment making workshop. Am now also able to support my parents. – Given, 27

We can only achieve the millenium development goals if we address gender inequality, particularly in countries where it is most pronounced such as Kenya.

Will you join us in campaigning for the rights of rural women? Find out more about what our project partner, International Peace Initiatives, is doing to empower women in Meru, Kenya.

UN Facts and Figures

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susie Kemp

Susie has 30+ experience as a creative copywriter, editor, and proofreader, starting out as a 20-year-old copywriter in the Mad Men world of early 1990s advertising in South Africa. Ever since, she’s had a love affair with creative conceptualisation, thinking outside of the box, writing to a deadline, and being thrown in the deep end!

She took an MSc in Publishing at Edinburgh Napier University as a mature student, in 2015, and continues to keep herself busy working as a copy-editor, proofreader and copywriter in book publishing, corporate communications, and publishing project management.

Apart from her love of working with independent authors, Susie has a fondness for working in the third sector and likes to use her corporate communications and marketing experience to support projects close to her heart. She has lived and worked in the Findhorn area for 25 years, and has been involved in a number of third sector projects and organisations, and family businesses.

Working at Ecologia Youth Trust helps Susie to live in integrity with her values of supporting the next generation to be the best that they can be, and she sees it as a way to give back to Mama Africa, the beloved continent on which she was born.

Ellen Shaw

Ellen joined the Ecologia team in June 2018 as Marketing and Communications Manager. Ellen has lived in Scotland for 6 years and has worked for non-profit and charitable organisations across varied fields. She currently shares her passion for helping young people through Ecologia Youth Trust and she works as a dancer and dance teacher in her spare time.

Robyn Cooper

Robyn is the Associate Director of International Projects, having previously worked within the team as a Project Development and Marketing Officer from April 2019 until May 2021. As Associate Director, Robyn is co-leading the International side of Ecologia with Founder and Director, Liza Hollingshead, bringing a new energy into Ecologia as they look towards the future of the charity.

Liza Hollingshead

Liza is the founder of Ecologia and Director of International Projects. She was born and educated in South Africa and worked there as a high school teacher. She moved to live in the Findhorn Community in 1974. She started Ecologia in 1995 after being introduced to Dmitry Morozov, the founder of Kitezh Children’s Community in Russia, and was inspired to support the community in its mission to rescue orphaned children from institutions and give them homes, families and education in a supportive environment.

This led to projects supporting disadvantaged youth and children in South East Asia and in East Africa. TRead more about Liza’s story here.