Solidarity for Advancement of Women Agenda (SAWA)

Solidarity for Advancement of Women Agenda (SAWA) was founded as a response to an expressed need by numerous individuals, groups of women and girls for a forum to maintain links and build impetus and solidarity efforts for their advancement. SAWA envisages a society in which women's endowment is acknowledged, nurtured and integrated in sustainable development. Our mission is to empower women and girls to realize their potential and consolidate their endowments through education, networking and solidarity building. We believe that when women piece together their thoughts, ideas, and strategies, they form a formidable movement for gender equality, environmental integrity, health and social ju...

Solidarity for Advancement of Women Agenda (SAWA)
P O Box 24972-00502, Karen, Kenya
Ngong, Kajiado 00502
Kenya
+254 721359159

Board of Directors

Joy Mbaabu, Tabitha Murerwa, Beth Nkirote, Susan Nzioki, Jane Kaari, Caroline Gacheri, Winnie Kiberenge, Catherine Kaimenyi

Mission

Solidarity for Advancement of Women Agenda (SAWA) was founded as a response to an expressed need by numerous individuals, groups of women and girls for a forum to maintain links and build impetus and solidarity efforts for their advancement. SAWA envisages a society in which women's endowment is acknowledged, nurtured and integrated in sustainable development. Our mission is to empower women and girls to realize their potential and consolidate their endowments through education, networking and solidarity building. We believe that when women piece together their thoughts, ideas, and strategies, they form a formidable movement for gender equality, environmental integrity, health and social justice. SAWA appreciates that a collective voice faction and a shared forum amplifies the agenda for women's effective participation is society, regardless of age and ethnicity. Our strategy is to be proactive through rising up empowered girls and women who are educated, know their rights, are able to claim these rights and appreciate their role as women in national building. Our work falls along five objectives: 1. To build self esteem of girls and give them safe space to ask questions, be themselves and build confidence to venture in areas that they otherwise could not. This is built on the premise that due to socialization and culture, girls are wrongly meant to believe that they are inferior to men and subordinate, thus should always come second in everything. This is made worse by religion. Kenya being 80% Christian has seen religious leaders use the bible to oppress girls and women, claiming that the holy books regards the man as the head and women should submit regardless of the evil that she is subjected to. By building their confidence and self esteem, girls are able to challenge this radical and illogical belief. 2. To promote girls education and champion for equal opportunities in utilization of society's resources. We aim at educating the society and the girls themselves of the value of education, that they can only be successful in society through education. We train girls, men and women about the value of girl child education. When girls understand this, they are able to resist forced marriages because they get to know the authorities they can run to, for resistance. They are also able to resist FGM (three girls so far have come to us for rescue against this). We believe that the government has the responsibility of providing basic education to all including girls and therefore work keep the administration in the areas of our operation on their toes to ensure this is done. We achieve this through reporting parents/guardians who do not take children to primary schools where education is free. 3. To achieve economic independence of women and alleviate poverty through sustainably growth of small women owned businesses. This objective is based on the realization that until women get economic independence, they will always have no power to bargain on how they would want their lives to be. We therefore aim at empowering women with knowledge and skills on income generation activities so that they can identify businesses that they can call theirs and work towards improving their financial standing. We believe that when a woman is economically stable, her children will reap the benefits since she will work towards promotion of her children well being. We also believe that economic empowerment to women should be started at the adolescence stage, as early as age 10, so that girls can develop the habit of saving, economic responsibility in spending, and investing. Women who earn, save and invest are likely to promote good health, nutrition and education for their families compared to men who mostly use theirs on personal matters including in alcoholism. 4. To promote women health for a healthy society. We believe that when girls are empowered, they are able to make choices that affect their lives from an early age. They shun early pregnancies, choose the right partner when ready for marriage, make decision on the number of children to have and choose the mode of delivery suitable for them. Where women are enlightened mortality rate is usually low. 5. Enlighten women on their human rights and strategies to demand them when violations occur. We aim at equipping women with tools and strategies to confront entrenched structures of inequality, discrimination, negative socialization, abuse and violation of human rights, repugnant traditions all of which deny them justice and enjoyment of their rights and impede their participation an all aspects of society. Broadly SAWA believes that to drive change aimed at eliminating poverty in society, then we must invest in girls, supporting initiatives led and implemented by girls themselves regardless of their ages, backgrounds and ethnicity.

Programs

Girls mentorship program: This is a program where girls who have just completed high schools (mainly ages 18 - 21) are attached to our organizations, taken through our programs to understand themselves as girls, their challenges and appreciate that they have the potential to be better and contribute to their well being, those of their families and society in general. At SAWA, they work full time at the office and help in field work particularly in training other girls and women in the community. They are introduced to office work, filing, typing and computer applications, serving visitors, office etiquette etc. Moreover, these girls live with the Coordinator of SAWA and her family for two months where they receive a more holistic mentorship. They learn life skills including in the kitchen, cooking, cleanliness, diet, health and hygiene, interpersonal relations, diversity issues etc. These girls are also attached to other mentors in various careers so that they can help them out in identifying a career that suit them in life. The program thus serves as internship with a very strong component of mentorship. The girls and mentors meet regularly and become friends not just during the internship period but even latter. Upon completion of their internship, and on return to their villages, girls form groups of between 10 - 15 girls aged between 9 - 17 and they then become their mentors. They also attach the girls with those other mentees that are being mentored by SAWA. These young girls identify so well with their peer mentors who come from the same village, understand their challenges and can very well identify with them. SAWA and the other mentors keep monitoring these groups and visiting them regularly for inspiration and opportunity to allow the girls ask questions that they may have. The mentorship program being a very new idea in Kenya has received a lot of support from the communities and even the administration including Chief, Elders and schools around and is termed as a girls driven project. Thus, when SAWA empowers one girl, they impact on at least 10 others, thus a multiplier effect. In these groups, no girl will drop from school because of the network and social support created. She has someone to share with and get guidance from and so education is promoted. Girls are also introduced to businesses ideas and income generation activities, savings and investing at a very early age. Another girl's program is the Health and Hygiene, whose main project is the Reusable Sanitary towels project that was started through a seed grant by Open Meadows foundation, USA. We train girls how to make the pads using old cloths, how to wash them and use them during their menses. The project came about when we realized that many girls particularly in primary schools miss classes for 3-4 days every month because they cannot afford to buy sanitary pads. We train them on how to sew their own and leave each girl with her own 8-10 pads. These pads can be used for up to 18 months and the girl can sew more. The project was and still is very welcome by the community as a cost effective as well as an answer to ensuring that no girls misses school because of this. The project also brings us nearer the girls where we get an opportunity of teaching them on life skills and other important topics on top of health and hygiene as we make the pads. It also breaks barriers and opens girls up to be able to discuss with us on issues relating to sex. The mothers to the girls took this as an income generation activity and some of them sew the pads for sale. They also use these pads. Another active program we have is the Entrepreneurship and Income Generation Training for women. We train women on identifying business opportunities in their areas, raising funds to start small businesses, doing business plans, marketing their products and book keeping. We help women network with others through exchange programs from one village to another so that they can learn new strategies and businesses from their peers. Gender Peace and Human rights training program is another active project. This program was started with a seed grant from Women Peace Makers program, Ghana. We train women on the value of peace so that they can live with peace with others and the environment. We train on human rights so that they can well integrate peace and human rights, so that they are not taken advantage of as peace makers. The program is based on the knowledge that when there is no peace, women and children suffer more, thus deliberate efforts should be made by women to enhance peace. They need to protect the environment as much as possible. If for example there is no water due to deforestation, it is the woman who walks for kilometers to look for water, thus she needs to care for the environments and ensure trees are planted. We also train them on how they can actively participate in leadership and governance of the country through exercising their democratic right of voting good leaders, offering themselves in taking leadership positions in community committees for water, security, education etc, where policy issues are discussed. We also guide them on the avenues available when rights are violated at whatever level, including gender based violence.

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