Our project at International Peace Initiatives (IPI) Kenya will provide over 100 women and girls in Meru County free access to skills training so that they can provide for themselves, their families and change their lives by having a secure and stable income. Courses in hairdressing, catering, jewellery making or permaculture will allow them to open businesses in their own homes and find secure jobs. They will be able to care for their children and become agents of change for their communities.
In Kenya, one in five girls between 15 and 19 are mothers. Families struggle with poverty, disease and the risk of contracting HIV/AIDS. In Meru, 21% of the population have no formal education. When girls become mothers, the vast majority drop out of school. They face rejection from the father of their child, their families and community. Many become homeless, with no chance of securing a decent job, forcing them into commercial sex work to survive and provide for their children.
We will provide vocational courses free of charge to those who are in the most need, led by respected local organisation, International Peace Initiatives, (IPI). Ecologia has worked in partnership with IPI since 2012 developing sustainable empowerment projects to mitigate the effects of poverty and disease on women and children. All the courses are community-led and designed so that vulnerable young women are equipped with the life skills to care for themselves and their children.
Previous courses run by IPI have been successful, 95% of graduates have gone on to own their own businesses and none have returned to commercial sex work. Women who are empowered in their own careers can afford to send their children to school, giving them brighter prospects. We have also seen that the women have increased confidence and self-esteem, and improved social mobility. Their increased ability to earn also leads to greater respect in the community and they help other community members.