Kenya’s population is currently approximated at 48 million, 51% been women. In the 2017 elections, women made up 47% of the registered voters. While the country takes pride in now having 3 Governors and 3 Senators elected in the 2017 elections, gender inequality is a major challenge in achieving women’s rights and progress in Kenya. Across the world, Government interventions are informed by policy, whose agenda is set by those involved in the process. The lack of adequate women’s participation and representation in key policy and decision making processes leads to development projects and programmes that lack inclusivity.
In Education, the same pattern of gender inequality is evident. School going girls stand a higher risk of not completing basic education than boys. Patriarchy, teenage pregnancies and a prevalent rape culture are major crises in the sector. Approximately 378,400 girls in Kenya aged between 10 and 19 years became pregnant between July 2016 and June 2017 (United Nations Population Fund – UNFPA). The Economic Survey of 2018 indicated a total of 7,434 cases that were reported to the police. In addition, culture and traditions have not aided in solving the challenge. Instead, they continue to drive inequality among Kenya’s communities owing to a history of patriarchy. In many poor families in the rural areas, young girls are still compelled to get married while the boys go to school. It is assumed that this is a reasonable way to save on family resources. Yet research has shown that educating girls is directly proportional to the development of communities since they seem to go back home and pay it forward.
It is with this background that DadaPower was initiated.
DadaPower is a women-led, affirmative action community initiative which was founded to promote and enhance women’s rights through Education and Economic empowerment. We strongly believe that every woman is entitled to a dignified life that is characterized by sufficient access to development opportunities.
“Dada” means sister, but also denotes “lady” among Kenyans. Dadapower therefore means ladies of power. The title is inspired by the need to bring out the power within every woman to have and express her voice, to access and defend her education, to
pursue her dreams and to engage equally with men in society.
We believe in women empowerment as a tool for social accountability, sustainable families, productive businesses and safe communities. Our work is therefore to promote and enhance women’s Education in Academics, politics and leadership and income generating ventures; and to ensure their active and meaningful engagement in policy formulation and implementation.
Our activities have largely centered on school programs. We visit rural primary and secondary schools for motivational talks on goal setting, reproductive health, self-esteem, education and competence.
In December 2018, Dadapower joined in the launch of the #WhatGirlsWant project that is supported by the Athena Initiative, and will be implemented in Kenya’s Homabay and Nairobi counties in 2019. It is a sexual reproductive health project aimed at creating awareness among teenage girls on prevention, treatment and control of HIV/AIDS infections and Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) which are prevalent in these counties. Dadapower participated by organizing and providing panelists for the event.
In addition, DadaPower is part of the larger Emerging Leaders Foundation community, owing to the fact that the founder is an alumnus after taking a leadership course and been certified in 2014.
Dadapower takes pride in a number of milestones achieved since 2014:
- Enhancement of girls’ performance in school: In 2015, one of the schools in which DadaPower carries out motivational talks reported to have had a girl top the class in the National Examinations that informs students’ transition from primary to secondary school. This was the first time that a girl had emerged top in the examinations;
- In partnership with the Fight Inequality Alliance (FIA), Dadapower facilitated a training session and community discussion on fighting inequality in the Education sector to ensure that all children, especially girls access learning institutions regardless of their backgrounds. This was held in August 2018 in Kibera, East Africa’s largest slum. Deliberations and recommendations of the talk were put together in a position statement that was submitted to various partners for action and collaboration in fighting inequality.
- DadaPower is part of a youth Civil Society Forum in Murang’a County, through which various stakeholders come together to inform county policies in Education and Health.
- Supply of essentials such as sanitary towels: Every twice a year, Dadapower mobilizes friends and well-wishers to donate resources for the purchase of pads to be used by needy teenage girls who cannot afford them. This has hugely helped to keep girls in school during their menses, thus ensuring that they are at par with their male counterparts.
- Limited resources: Dadapower’s activities have largely been limited by resources to facilitate training, facilitation of education, economic empowerment and job creation. In the course of our work, we engage teenage girls who are brilliant and surpass average academic qualifications, yet lack resources to go through school. As a team, our aim is to fundraise to support such and many other girls with different justified cases. In addition, there is need for funds for registration to
enable the initiative receive donor funding. This is something the team is
currently focused on.
- Continuity of volunteers: The initiative relies on volunteers to carry out activities. All of these volunteers are youth, who are also seeking employment opportunities. This explains the high number of frequent exit and new entries, thus undermining continuity.