By Caroline Katana
Six hundred and thirty girls and young women from Kwale County have benefited from the She Leads project implemented by the Network for Adolescents and Youth in Africa organization (NAYA).
The project commenced in 2021 and works with groups of girls from three sub-counties of Matuga ,Msambweni and Lungalunga.
NAYA project officer Esther Ndinya said the project is meant to build the capacity of the girls to understand their rights and fight for leadership positions.
“We have strengthened the ability of these groups through leadership and assisting them to register their groups to enable them to work with different organizations and to run sustainable projects like agri-business, soccer and theatre arts because we also want to develop their talents,” said Ndinya.
Ndinya noted that the objective of her leading project was to break the silence against gender violence they encounter in society.
“After we introduced this project, we learned that girls could not report any case of violence they face in the community. Some of these girls are young mothers due to early pregnancies but through this project, we have sensitized them to know their rights. We assist them with knowledge and coordinate them with government officers to register their groups and organizations to support them with funding to boost their projects,” She noted.
Mwanaisha Omar, a She Leads beneficiary and also a charlady of girls and young women in Matuga constituency, applauded the project for creating a safe space for girls and young mothers.
“Before the project, cases of school dropout among girls were alarming due to early marriages and pregnancies because girls at the grassroots level did not know their rights and values, but after getting awareness from NAYA, we took the initiative of sensitizing other girls in the society on the dangers of early pregnancies and marriages. In the future I want to see zero gender-based violence among girls in my area,” Said Mwanaisha.
Mwanaisha of Hazina youth group confirmed the group focuses on creating awareness of menstrual hygiene, teenage pregnancies and other issues related to girls’ rights.
On her part, Mwanahalima Mohamed, vice chair of Mbuguni Heri club, also a beneficiary of She Leads project claimed that culture and traditions in the society undermine girls’ rights.
“I did my Kenya Certificate of primary education KCPE 2017 but my parents denied me the chance to proceed to secondary school but instead educated my brothers. I stayed at home for three years before my friends introduced me to the She Leads project under NAYA, after getting awareness of my rights, I decided to look for sponsors and went back to school in 2021. I’m grateful to be in form three now at Mbuguni secondary school,” she said.
Mwanahalima, who is ambitious of being a doctor, is now calling upon parents to end harmful traditions and culture and ensure the rights of their children are protected as per the constitution.
Mwanaisha Weko of the Maendeleo self-help group, who is also a beneficiary, said the project changed their lifestyle and upheld their dignity.
She Leads project runs for five years and is expected to end in 2025.