Ours was a humble and courageous beginning more than 25 years ago, when a few women in senior management levels in print and electronic media got together to pursue the cause of women journalists in Kenya. They registered AMWIK under the societies Act in December 1982 and commenced work officially in 1983.
Among the pioneering members of AMWIK in the 1980s were veteran media women, Isabel Mbugua, Dr. Waithera Gikonyo, Monica Opole and Grace Kanyua among others who formed the first Board in 1986.
Other subsequent key women who sat on the AMWIK board in the 90s include Rose Lukalo who was also the chairperson between 2002 and 2008, Jemimah Mwakisha, Rose Ongeso, Esther Kamweru, Eliza Chege and Lillian Nduta. All these women who were in AMWIK during the 1980s and 90s sacrificed their time and resources to keep the AMWIK flame alive and active when resources were scarce and donors few.
Before AMWIK had resources to set up a fully fledged secretariat in 2002, it previously had a small office at Chester House that was provided by the Kenya Union of Journalists. The Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) donated a computer and offered to pay an allowance for an office assistant. The main responsibility of the office assistant was to arrange for board meetings and maintain members’ register. The Board was involved in resources mobilization and implementing projects.
Among earlier projects the Association was involved in was undertaking gender related training for journalists and empowering communities on issues related to utilizing media for development.
To date, AMWIK has trained over 50 community groups on radio listening sessions in selected locations across the eight provinces in Kenya, with programmes covering gender and governance, child labour, sexual exploitation and abuse of children, gender based violence, promoting accountability in local authorities, civic education, peace and reconciliation.
As a deliberate effort to increase diversity, AMWIK is currently implementing programmes in different areas across the eight provinces in the country.
There has been a deliberate effort to reach women groups from marginalized pastoral communities especially from upper Eastern and North-eastern provinces, for example in Moyale, Isiolo, Garissa and Wajir, where infrastructural development and access to media is poorest.
Generally, AMWIK programmes are all inclusive as we involve women, men, youth, children, policy makers, people with disabilities and Kenyans in general.
Among AMWIK’s first partners were the British Council who supported the Gender Learning Network, CIDA who donated the first computer in 1999 and the UNIFEM who supported our programme on the campaign against gender violence in the late 90s.
Special tribute goes to Pamela Mburia, the first employee at the AMWIK secretariat in 2002 who became the Programmes Coordinator. She joined AMWIK as a volunteer and started fundraising to pay salaries and rent for the secretariat. By the time she left in 2007, AMWIK had attracted several development partners who enabled us to expand our projects.
AMWIK has experienced phenomenal growth over the years, from just less than ten members in 1983 to over 300 members today who are spread throughout the country.
As it stands now, AMWIK has an organizational structure, a fully fledged secretariat based in Nairobi and a board of directors.
AMWIK is currently in the process of establishing a studio and further plans to acquire permanent premises to house the secretariat, resource center and accommodation facilities for exchange participants.