A Thousand Splendid Steps: Mercy’s Experiences in AWLMI and WIN programmes
AMWIK member & former Board member, Mercy Njoroge shares that responding to an email opportunity shared on the AMWIK newsletter could change your life and usher you on a new trajectory. She says that has been her experience and she gained tremendously through the leadership trainings, networking opportunity and story leads that have been published in her media house. She shared her experiences.
“Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any one thing”. Almost 150 years ago, the 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln said these words, which today, not only inspire AMWIK member Mercy M. Njoroge, but drive her to achieve the highest echelons of her personal and professional achievements.
When she joined AMWIK in 2010, Mercy hit the ground running. She had just started working as a Sub Editor at The Star Newspaper and was very passionate about girls’ and women’s rights issues. She got involved in AMWIK’s activities and when an opportunity to travel to Maiella, which borders Narok and Naivasha presented itself, she expressed interest as one of the members to travel to the event. This was a cultural event held toward the end of a peace project that AMWIK in partnership with Ford Foundation held to help unite the two feuding communities. She covered the peace and reconciliation programme and published a story titled: “Widowed by Land Feuds: Women in Maiella Seek Healing through Forgiveness”, highlighting the contribution of women, especially widows, in peace-building. Her drive and contribution in the organisation enabled her to engage and network more with AMWIK partners, opening more opportunities for her to write and advocate for gender equality.
Two years later, when an opportunity was shared through the email system, Mercy applied and was selected for the highly competitive African Women Leadership and Mentorship Initiative (AWLMI), a two-year programme that brought together women from Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Kenya, Malawi and South Sudan. The mentorship programme was a partnership of AMWIK and Urgent Action Fund-Africa (UAF-Africa) and delivered by the Coady International Institute, a constituent of St. Francis Xavier University, Canada who designed the learning modules. Through its unique, community-based approach, the Coady Institute equips citizen leaders to address contemporary global challenges and opportunities. Mercy who is now part of a global network of thousands of graduates and partners from Coady, says it was a discovery journey of her gender rights activism and African feminism.
During and after the training, Mercy’s agency for women empowerment pushed her to write various articles and editorials about the programme and women’s rights. She delved deeper into writing for Kenyan media highlighting the plight and achievements of women, focusing on all facets of life including political leadership of women, education, healthcare, traditional cultural practices and their detriment to the advancement of girls and women, among other topics. During the training, she got an opportunity to travel to Zanzibar for a week for the final training sessions and also the graduation ceremony. Her desire to advance her knowledge in gender equality drove her to enroll for a Masters in Gender and Development studies at the University of Nairobi.
Her writing about the programme and continuously about women led to one of her most memorable engagements which included travelling to the United States of America for the 59th United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW59) in New York, and to Harvard University in Boston, Massachusetts, for a two-day forum on “The Role of African Women in the Post-2015 Development Agenda”. At the CSW, I witnessed that there was a lot of work being down by international and local NGOs to empower women. I also saw a lot of intergenerational collaboration between the older women and younger women as we were interacting with women who had attended the Beijing platform of Action and by then I was very young.
Naturally, Mercy possesses an aggressive and go-getter attitude, and during her profession, she wrote numerous Op-Eds and Feature Stories for local and foreign online publications. She currently works at People Daily as a Senior Sub Editor and Columnist. It is also during this time that she vied for a Board Member position at AMWIK and she was overwhelmingly elected to serve for two years. She spearheaded the Editorial and Publicity Committee.
Not one to be shy from grabbing opportunities, upon completion of the AWLMI, an opportunity for women in print media was advertised on the AMWIK website and email. She once again pitched her application and again, she was selected for the Women in News (WIN) programme. This time they required specifically women working in the newspapers and with potential for growth within the media houses. The programme ran from January to June 2016 and she got training on Media Management in South Africa and Zimbabwe. Upon completion, she received a certificate from the University of Witwatersrand in South Africa. From the training, she started a blog: mercytalks.wordpress.com and shortly after, she was selected for a Digital Storytelling Training of Trainers (ToTs).
“I have had a lot of opportunities for capacity building, personal and career development, largely because of my constant desire for self-improvement.” Today, she is a mentor for female journalism students, in a programme of the US Embassy in Kenya and the University of Nairobi’s (UoN) School of Journalism and Mass Communication (SOJMC).
In addition, Mercy has been training journalists at AMWIK and People Daily on writing for media. She is also a women’s rights advocate and has engaged in campaign drives with many local and international Non-Governmental Organisations in projects to advocate for gender equality.
She mulls over her experiences in both programmes. “I have learnt to focus on my goals, challenge myself and while at it, make other people better, especially women.” One can be sure this is not the last we’ve heard from Mercy M. Njoroge.
“I have gained a lot from being an AMWIK member. Through the leadership trainings, my strengths have been enhanced and I have been able to improve on my weaknesses. I have also had an opportunity to network.” AMWIK has opened amazing doors through its partners. We have been able to write interesting gender stories and give prominence to the gender news-value. One needs to be an active member so that your strengths are known, she says.