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Kenyan Woman

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INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY

MARCH 8, 2014

Empowerment through agriculture will eliminate violence against women By Julian Muturia

Agriculture can play a significant role in reducing poverty and eliminating violence against women especially in rural areas. A large percentage of violence against women has been attributed to poverty. Although 80 per cent of food is produced by smallholder women farmers, very few have access to productive resources such as credit, land, water and markets and make up about 60 per cent of chronically hungry people in the world. Only one per cent of women own land and access credit in Kenya.

D

espite being among Africa’s economic giants and lauded for the most progressive laws including the new constitution, Kenya is faced by numerous challenges towards mainstreaming gender and achieving gender parity in the political social and economic sectors. The struggle for gender parity and women’s right has been ongoing since the drafting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948 which emphasises that human rights should be enjoyed by all without any form of discrimination.

80percent of food is produced by smallholder women farmers. However, very few have access to productive resources such as credit, land, water and markets and make up about 60 percent of chronically hungry people in the world. Picture: FILE

Challenges This has been attributed to retrogressive cultural practices which have denied women the opportunity to own land individually or jointly with their spouses, high cost of inputs, poor livestock husbandry, limited extension services, over-dependence on rain-fed agriculture, lack of markets, and limited application of agricultural technology and innovation. The annual national budget for agriculture has also been on the decline from 5.1 per cent in 2009/2010 to 3.6 per cent in 2012/2013.

inheritance, the not more than one third gender rule in elective positions, and provision for socio economic rights in the Bill of Rights. Devolution has also provided an opportunity for small

Improving the productivity of small holder women farmers will not only eliminate violence but also accelerate achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. Although the agricultural sector directly contributes to 26 per cent of the Gross

Convention Subsequent international and regional instruments such as Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW as well as the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights and its Maputo Protocol continue to reaffirm this. The Constitution of Kenya 2010 brought unprecedented gains for women ranging from ability of women to pass on citizenship to their children, equal rights in marriage, shared parental responsibility, elimination of discrimination in land ownership and

holder women farmers to engage with the county government in determining the budgetary allocations for inter alia agriculture which is a devolved function of the county government.

Saving women from jaws of loan sharks By Ben Oroko

W

omen who have been victims of shylocks (loan sharks) can now heave a sigh of relief, thanks to the table banking concept that will equip them with financial mobilization skills and business ideas to empower them economically.

The concept, set to be rolled out under the stewardship of members of the county assembly, will drive the engine of rural women’s economic empowerment. This comes amidst reports that women entrepreneurs have been experiencing difficulties in accessing loans and credit from leading financial institutions and commercial banks due to the strict lending terms. According to Mary Sally Otara, Member

Kisii County Assembly, the table banking concept seeks to rescue women from unscrupulous individuals who continue disempowering unsuspecting rural women. The concept will ensure that women become more self-reliant financially. “For decades women have suffered in the hands of financial institutions and commercial banks which demand collateral and charge high interest rates, thus limiting their access to credit,” explains Otara.

She advises women to join groups and decide on the standard amount they can contribute over a specified period of time after which the savings are advanced to members based on their rules of engagement. “I am encouraging women to take advantage of the table banking concept to pool financial resources together to finance their investments without depending on commercial banks whose

terms and conditions of lending do not favour a majority of them,” advises Otara.

Concept The table banking concept will be rolled out to villages in all the 45 wards in Kisii County where experts in business management will be hired to train women on business ideas and financial management skills. According to Moraa Gisiora, an official with a local self-help group in Bobasi Chache Ward in Kisii County, the concept has come at the right time when women in rural areas need economic empowerment. Gisiora decried the frustrations women go through in the hands of shylocks. She described the situation as adverse, noting that unsuspecting and desperate rural women seeking credit go for unsecured loans from shylocks

Executive Director: Arthur Okwemba Editor: Jane Godia Sub-Editors: Faith Muiruri and Duncan Mboya

Domestic Product annually and another 25 per cent indirectly, it also provides 70 per cent of informal employment in the rural areas to women and youth. Smallholder women farmers continue to be discriminated with regard to access to agricultural productive resource as they are viewed as unproductive due to low production hence accelerating poverty. In light of the foregoing, there is an urgent need for all stakeholders, government, civil society and private corporations to recognise the role that agricultural activities by small holder women farmers continue to play in poverty eradication. They should then provide them with the requisite support towards achievement of socio-economic rights and subsequently elimination of violence against women.

ACORD, a Pan African organization is working in 18 countries in Africa on the thematic areas of women’s rights, health, peace building, food security and livelihoods. ACORD has been present in Kenya since 2005 and works in the most marginalized and hard to reach communities. In all its work, ACORD has a bias for women in which we seek to elimination all forms of violence against women through research, community sensitization and trainings, economic empowerment and policy advocacy.

who charge punitive interest rates that a majority are unable to repay.

County, shylocks have impoverished unsuspecting rural women.

“We have witnessed poor women lose their property and investments after being auctioned by the same shylock who use all means at their disposal to recover the credit advanced,” says Gisiora.

Bochere notes that it is only merry-goround cash contribution activities that can rescue women seeking economic empowerment. She singled out her group of 20 members who meet every Wednesday and contribute KSh300 each.

She adds: “Though they offer convenient financial solutions to the borrowers, the shylocks more often than not have frustrated women’s efforts to empower themselves economically.” Women in the rural-based households will not only use the table banking concept to address their financial needs to also address the challenges they face while seeking credit and loans from financial institutions. According to Kwamboka Bochere, a member of a local self-help group in Boigesa Village, Giasaiga Sublocation in Bobasi Chache Ward in Kisii

“This amount is then shared between two members each week according to our rules of engagement,” she explains, adding that women will be more secure with table banking. The mode of distributing the money is done through balloting where all members participate.

Contributions “The merry-go-round cash contributions in our group collects KSh6000 per week and is shared between two members in a cluster,” says Bochere. She adds:

Contributors: Joyce Chimbi, Ruth Omukhango, Odhiambo Orlale, Carolyne Oyugi, Joy Masheti, Gilbert Ochieng, Hellen Kivaya , Jill Anami, Henry Kahara, David Njagi, Ben Oroko, Valerie Musavi, Ruth Ayugi and Thomas Bwire Cover picture: Women walking back to their homes in Gumuruk, Pibor County, Jonglei State. (Credit Plan International

INSPIRING CHANGE  

Special issue of the Kenyan Woman newspaper for International Women's Day 2014

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