Guest Post by Laura Sharpe at Vision Africa - one of Shoes by Shaherazad's favourite girl power projects!
This year we’re celebrating the huge strides that have been made to promote equality for women. From the Time’s Up movement to the #MeToo campaign we’ve seen a huge increase in the awareness of the importance of this issue. Despite this, on average women are paid less than men, are underrepresented in politics and business and have less access to education.
This global injustice is felt everywhere, no less so in Kenya where women are held back due to traditional ideals about gender roles.
At Vision Africa we asked around to see if young Kenyan men thought that there should be equality among men and women and we were surprised by some of the answers;
- There should not be equality because men work harder than women
- There should not be equality because women are stubborn
- Gender equality causes families to break up
This is what our female students in Kenya are up against. Sadly these views are not uncommon in Kenya and gender equality has some very real implications for young women living there today.
Kenya has a net attendance ratio for secondary education of just 44%. This is worse for girls who are often blocked from education when families favour “investing” in school fees for their brothers. In addition to this, 34% of the female population are married before reaching the legal age of 18 years.
Vision Africa aims to help close the gap by working with disadvantaged young people from rural areas and urban slums. Over a period of one to two years, students receive training in life skills, enterprise skills and vocational skills including fashion design, hair and beauty therapy, mechanical engineering and homecare management. Students also pursue personal development courses to build their self-esteem and help them face the realities of the harsh circumstances which have led them to join Seed of Hope. 92% of our students feel empowered after taking part in Seed of Hope.
Through the support of partners by Shoes for Shaherazad our Seed of hope programme helps young women overcome the inequality they have faced by providing them with the skills and knowledge to build a career. We also work with young men, many of whom, upon joining our programme expressed similar views to those stated above. In fact, the quotes above have come directly from some of our new male students. What is wonderful to see however is the changing attitudes of the young men on our programme who after having the experience of working along side our talented and intelligent female students, have learned the value and importance of gender equality as is evident from a second year student’s response to the same question;
- [Women and men should be equal] Because we all possess equal abilities and rights
This international Women’s Day we’re celebrating the empowered women in our community. We’ve interviewed a selection of these women, who range from graduates to business owners, volunteers and leaders in both Kenya and the UK to showcase what gender equality means for them.
Our graduate Irene says: Seed of Hope enabled me to realise my self-worth’ – check out her story and others on our website or follow us on Twitter @VisionAfrica.
Vision Africa works in strategic, innovative partnerships with community and government stakeholders. We work closely with children and their families to ensure the provision of quality training and education. Our goal is a practical expression of love and compassion that ensures children and young people from disadvantaged backgrounds have the opportunity to fulfil their potential and impact their community.