Empowering Women Is Not Just Lifting Up Girls
( BOYS AND MEN AS ALLIES IN ACHIEVING GENDER EQUALITY AND PROMOTING WOMEN EMPOWERMENT)
Oct 9, 2020
Empowering women is not just lifting up girls and opening up opportunities for them. It takes a holistic approach of educating and empowering the community and most importantly, their male peers, to bring a systemic change. Building allies around them is the fastest and most effective way to build women’s empowerment.
Asante Africa Foundation embraces this inclusive educational ideology in its programs, where boys and community members are educated on women’s issues. As a result, boys and men become allies for their sisters, mothers, and friends. Asante Africa’s inclusive programs have produced young men who actively work to and build businesses that support women’s empowerment within their communities.
One such ally is Isaac who used his knowledge of tailoring to help the girls within his community during the global pandemic.
ISAAC SUPPORTS THE WOMEN IN HIS COMMUNITY DURING COVID-19
Isaac is an LEI alumnus, a form three student from AGC Lokichar Boys Secondary School in Turkana region, and has been working in his father’s tailoring shop during the coronavirus pandemic period. Isaac is 19 years old and the last born in a family of three children, one girl and two boys. His parents divorced when he was still young and his father later married five more wives and had three more children. Following his parents’ divorce, Isaac moved in with his aunt where he lived until he sat for Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) in the year 2017. Due to a lot of financial challenges, his sister opted for early marriage because life was unbearable at home at the time.
“Growing up, I had no opportunity of meeting my father. It wasn’t until I sat for my KCPE examinations results that my father came home for the first time since he divorced my mother. He decided to take me to Lokichar Town, Turkana county where he works as a tailor so that, I could start secondary school education at AGC Lokichar Boys Secondary School in the year 2018.”
Isaac saw firsthand the growing demand for face masks and reusable sanitary napkins especially for girls in the community in this pandemic, Isaac was inspired to provide a reliable supply of cheap but long-lasting reusable masks and sanitary napkins which met the required public health standards for the Lokichar population.
To his advantage, Isaac integrated the leadership and entrepreneurship knowledge and skill he had acquired from Leadership and Entrepreneurship Incubator (LEI) Program by Asante Africa Foundation into his project. Isaac gives credit to his father for providing him with free fabric and sewing machine to make the faces masks and reusable sanitary napkins. The masks retail at KES. 50 per piece and the sanitary napkins at KES. 100 per piece. Since March this year Asante Africa has partnered with him to provide thirty-nine girls and thirty-six boys with five masks and three reusable sanitary napkins each which they are encouraged to share with their sisters and other girls within the community.
Isaac is inclined to female issues because to him women empowerment can only be realized if men take part in the female empowerment initiatives. “I have passion for female empowerment mainly because of how I saw my mother suffering after my father divorced her. She was not able to provide for us as she would have if my father was around. As much as my father came back into my life, he has not completely reintegrated me into his life and recently, he sent me back to live with my mother until schools reopen so that I could give him personal space.”
In his efforts to Pay-it-Forward within his society, Isaac has been giving free masks to his fellow youth, women and men as well as street children. He also shares with his friends the leadership, entrepreneurship and finance knowledge he acquired from the LEI Program. Currently, he has a group of four youth whom he mentors. According to Isaac, his group members have started changing their world view and perspectives and they are geared towards creating positive change within their families and communities.
For his future dream, Isaac has a goal of saving up to fifty thousand Kenya shillings from the sales of face masks and reusable sanitary napkins by the time he graduates from high school. He is planning to become an agribusiness entrepreneur whereby he will be able to supply maize to his community.
Written By: Winnie Njeri