Access to Information Improves Women’s Participation in Governance
Access to information is a fundamental human right and is enshrined in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The right of access to information improves governance and lives as it assists public administration to become more transparent and accountable. It also enables citizens to engage more meaningfully in public life, understand policies, help determine public priorities, and use the information to ensure the exercise of their other human rights, including the rights to clean water, a safe environment, and education.
To this effect, AMWIK is working with community groups in Kwale, Kilifi, Tana River, Marsabit and Isiolo Counties to help them access information and enhance their participation in the devolved system of government.
In projects supported by various donors, including the Ford Foundation, Diakonia Sweden and KIOS Finland, AMWIK specifically targets women groups who use the power of information to fight ignorance in their communities. With the knowledge shared the women have collectively raised governance issues with their respective County governments.
In Kwale’s Kinango Constituency, women groups are using the knowledge on women land rights to campaign for women property and inheritance rights. Naomi Kilonzo, the Chairlady of Kawia Ufike women group was appointed by the community members to represent them in the lands and surveying committee in the Ministry of lands. Naomi has succeeded in addressing two land disputes for women who had court battles with their brothers and ex husbands over their inherited and matrimonial property.
In Kilifi County, women in Malindi Constituency have been able to campaign against gender based violence by following up on rape cases with the local authorities and ensuring the perpetrators are bought to book. They have been involved in giving motivational talks to girls on the importance of education to retain more girls in schools who have dropped out due to early pregnancies.
In Tana River’s Garsen Constituency, women identified access to health services as a development challenge and have approached the county government to upgrade the health centers in their county. The women groups have engaged with their Member of County Assembly to prioritise health issues in their wards especially the construction of maternity wards. They have also embarked on preaching peace messages in their respective areas because conflict has been a challenge for them.
In Moyale Constituency, Marsabit County, the women identified lack of safe drinking water as a key developmental challenge. The women and children have contracted water borne disease because they only have one dam supplying the entire Sololo town which is shared by both domestic and wild animals. They women have approached the Member of County Assembly in their ward to address the water issues with proposals to construct a water tank and have treated water pumped into it so that the women can fetch safe drinking water.