Working with & for women

by - Indranil GHOSH (ig@kko-international.com)

Kakenya Ntaiya turned her dream of getting an education into a movement to empower vulnerable girls and bring an end to harmful traditional practices in Kenya. Meet two students at the Kakenya Center for Excellence, a school where girls can live and study safely -- and uplift their community along the way.

Recently, I was listening to a #TEDTalk, featuring Dr. Kakenya Ntaiya. She is the inspirational founder of Kakenya's Dream, where she uses education as powerful tool to help empower women in rural Kenya.

The worrying state of women resonates throughout rural Africa. FGM (Female Genital Mutilation) is a striking example with Ivory Coast having one of the highest prevalence rates in West Africa. Here are a few numbers to highlight the general plight:

  • only 18 % of agricultural lands are held by women.

  • over 75 % of rural women are living below the poverty line.

  • under 33 % of women are literate compared to 53 % of males.

  • almost 33.9 stillbirths for every 1000 in Abidjan (27.4 stillbirths nationally) : report.

So where do we begin? As Simone de Beauvoir aptly said:

gender inequality is culturally constructed, and not natural. In fact, at the beginning, women are equal to men, both intellectually and physically. It is man, because he produces the ideology, because he is dominant, that he reduces woman to an inferior being. 

Political and economic recognition for women starts with #education to usher a change of mindset. Without resorting to Hegel's master/slave approach which lead to Madame de Beauvoir renouncing motherhood - thereby resulting in an eloigment of a woman from her biological destiny - the solution is to invest in "grass-roots educational infrastructure that targets exclusively women". Therein lies the genesis for change.

Thank you Dr. Kakenya Ntaiya for driving home the argument.