Building & Amplifying Women’s Voices in Economic and Political Development
Donor: Kingdom of Netherlands & Diakonia Sweden
Duration: January 2012 – 2015
Target areas: Kwale, Isiolo and Nakuru
Since January 2012, the Association of Media Women in Kenya (AMWIK) has been implementing the Building and Amplifying Women’s Voices in Economic and Political Development project which aims to ensure that women are included in the development process through challenging un-democratic social, economic, cultural and political practices and structures that keep women and girls powerless and in poverty.
The project funded by the Netherlands Government’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Diakonia Sweden, is being executed jointly by Diakonia Uganda and Diakonia Kenya Country Offices and specifically aims to build and enhance women’s capacity to effectively contribute and exercise their right to participation in public policy and decision-making. The Building and Amplifying Women’s Voices in Economic and Political Development project falls also under the Funding Leadership Opportunities for Women (FLOW) programme, which is about empowering women and girls worldwide to play an active role in leadership.
The Kenyan partners comprising AMWIK, FIDA-Kenya and Diakonia Kenya worked in 10 counties namely Isiolo, Kwale, Nakuru, Kericho, Kisii, Kisumu, Nyandarua, Nairobi, Mombasa and Wajir. AMWIK is focused on building the capacity of women leaders to effectively use media and gain visibility in the society, as a strategy towards ensuring they are strategically placed for elective, appointive and nominative positions as well as ensuring their contribution is felt, appreciated and supported by society. At the regional level, the Kenyan partners collaborated with FOWODE, ACFODE and Diakonia Uganda towards the realization of the project’s objectives.
- Training of 162 women aspirants from Isiolo, Kwale and Nakuru counties vying for the positions of Governor, Senator, MP, County women representatives and member of county assembly (MCA) on how to effectively use media to amplify their voices in the society and boost their political prospects. During the training the aspirants were equipped with knowledge and skills to enable them to effectively and substantively participate in the electoral process and further use media effectively to boost their political prospects. The training entailed helping the women in
- Understanding operations of the media
- Establishing rapport with journalists
- Writing press releases and hold press conferences
- Making impressionable Television and radio presentations
- Developing campaign messages
- Articulating agenda’s and manifestos for their electorate
- Understanding electoral processes and procedures.
AMWIK deliberately included journalists in the training, who made a commitment to give women political candidates equal coverage with their male counterparts.
- AMWIK was given space in The Star Newspaper where we profiled women aspirants and further conducted civic education through local FM stations with popular listenership in intervention areas to create awareness on opportunities for women in the Kenya Constitution 2010, thereby encouraging more women to vie for political offices in the 2013 general election. The civic awareness programmes also enabled the public to understand, appreciate and support women aspiring for leadership. As a result, there was enhanced media coverage that enabled women to strategically place themselves for political appointments/elections/nominations.
In 2013, after the 4th March general election, AMWIK in collaboration with FIDA and the Diakonia Regional Office for Africa conducted sensitization forums for members of county assembly (MCAs) and journalists geared at helping the women leaders to effectively participate in the legislative processes in the county governments through working with media.
A total of 160 women and 102 journalists from Isiolo, Kwale, Nakuru, Kericho, Kisii, Kisumu, Nyandarua, Nairobi, Mombasa and Wajir participated in the forums held in October and November 2013. Achievements of the forums included the formation of women MCA caucuses in all the 10 counties, which have enabled them to effectively lobby and advocate for their rights in the county governments.
The women MCAs also now better understand their roles and mandates as MCAs and this has seen them actively and punctually attend and participate in county assembly sittings/debates. Previously, many women shunned off the proceedings and those who attended were always late and did not actively contribute.
The women MCAs also learnt the importance of coming up with motions and bills to address problems affecting their communities.The ultimate result has been enhanced media coverage of women MCAs, particularly those tabling motions and actively contributing in the debates.
Some of the motions tabled by women MCAs in various county assemblies included Kisumu MCA, Hon. Caroline Agwanda’s motion seeking to ease access for persons with disabilities into buildings. Another motion by Kwale MCA Hon. Fatuma Kadzo sought to compel all public institutions in the area, especially health centres, to have sign language interpreters to cater for the deaf. Finally, a motion by Mombasa MCA Hon. Mary Akinyi called for the formation of a metropolitan police unit to work with the regular police in proving security in the region.
Overall success of the project included enhanced coverage and visibility of women leaders in the Kenyan media and by extension, in the society and increased participation of women in public policy and decision-making.
- Nominated Senator Mvita Mshenga attended AMWIK’s training on ‘Effective Use of Media’ for women aspirants in Kwale and Kilifi counties. She was then vying for the Kilifi North parliamentary seat on a United Republican Party (URP) ticket and later stepped down after negotiations in the party on the ground but continued playing an active role in the party, which earned her a nomination to Kenya’s 11th Parliament as a senator.
In the Senate, Mvita made history as the only woman to head a House committee – the nine member Committee on Delegated Legislation – whose mandate is to scrutinize legislation submitted to the Senate to determine whether an Act or other relevant laws are in accordance with provisions of the Constitution. The senator is also a member of the key sessional committee on Devolved Government and is also the only female senator in the Senate’s Liaison committee whose members are chairpersons of all the House committees.
- Mama Zainab Chidzuga, now the elected Kwale County Women Representative and a member of the Committees on Delegated Legislation and Environment and Natural Resources said after training by AMWIK, just before the 2013 general election: “Since the training I have continued having a very good working relationship with journalists and have received good coverage. I’m always having functions and whenever I call media, they come.”