In the Words of Mwanatumu Kadau: I see hope in having more women in leadership and decision-making roles


Mwanatumu Kadau (photo: UN Women/James Ochweri)
Mwanatumu Kadau (photo: UN Women/James Ochweri)

Before the start of this project, women lacked knowledge, education, and empowerment necessary to first recognize their own worth before understanding external teachings. We are grateful to HURIA, through UN Women and the limited resources provided. We were able to connect with women at the grassroots level, though regrettably not all women could be reached. Several women served as ambassadors who were educated on the principle that one must first recognize their own value as a woman before assisting another in cultivating self-awareness - an approach that would streamline our efforts to spread this message. We are confident that educating and empowering women will benefit the entire community through their exemplary guidance. Thus, we stress the importance of women gaining knowledge and skills that allow them to instruct others - it is through teaching that they truly manifest their capabilities.

The work of the Peace Committee primarily focuses on promoting security and peace in the community. The Committee relies heavily on support from the local Government. When an individual volunteers with the Committee, it demonstrates they have already invested in the well-being of the community. We work closely with various community leaders, including chiefs, ambassadors, and chairmen, as well as other civil society organizations. We collaborate with these stakeholders as a network, coordinating efforts with both national and local governmental bodies. Initially, when HURIA first provided funding to the Committee through UN Women, we worked directly with village administrators, ward administrators, and chiefs who comprise the local government. We now seek to also include women representatives and Deputy County Commissioners in our efforts. It is only through cooperation that we can hope to achieve our goals. By assisting community leaders, we aim to help lighten their burden and make their jobs more manageable.

As the Lunga Lunga sub-county is located near the border, the local community was advised on the importance of promptly reporting any issues of concern to the proper authorities. Residents were informed that while their duty is to disclose pertinent information to officials, maintaining the confidentiality of informants is also critical to empowering continued cooperation. Through establishing clear channels of open communication between civic partners and government agencies, networking has been strengthened and allows for a more effective response. The ultimate goal is to appropriately address issues in their early stages, before potential escalation, through respecting the valuable role of all involved parties.

Our organization has undertaken various awareness initiatives to promote safety and prevent gender-based violence. One such program, "Boda Boda Sessions," aims to educate motorcycle taxi drivers about gender-based violence issues and how they can help. We also host "Jamvi la Wamama" events which engage directly with women in the community. At these events, we bring in counselors to discuss psycho-social topics and provide a supportive environment. Furthermore, we collaborate closely with local government officials and county representatives on additional outreach activities. One example is sensitizing women about the county's action plan related to UN Resolution 1325 on women, peace, and security. The goal is to make women aware of the resolution and their ability to actively participate in achieving peace and safety. We emphasize that through coordination and following the resolution's guidance, our shared goals can be realized. We inform the women that Resolution 1325 calls for their participation to help ensure a peaceful and secure environment for all. Through these various awareness initiatives, we have observed positive changes taking hold within the community.

I see hope in having more women in leadership and decision-making roles. Their engagement in leadership will not be the same in the coming days. There will also be a change in parenting responsibilities. The constant emphasis on women's roles and responsibilities is making an impact on their minds, and we anticipate positive changes. The fear of government offices will decrease because now they can say, "We placed those officials there." They have understood that if it weren't for them, those officials wouldn't be there. So, they know that their claims will be listened to. Politically, we hope to see more women in leadership positions. Currently, we have only one woman representing 20 wards in Kwale, but we hope that with unity, there will be more women in leadership. We hope for changes in family dynamics and a reduction in violence. Women are now more open to sharing their problems and seeking help. We hope to see these changes in the future.

I would like to express my gratitude to Finland who have supported us through UN Women, and our great friend HURIA. The community is eager for education and change. At the grassroots level, the community desires education and transformation. We hope for ongoing support and empowerment for our community.

With funding and programme support from the Embassy of Finland in Kenya, UN Women Kenya works with Human Rights Agenda (HURIA) on Women in Political Leadership with a specific focus on Preventing Violent Extremism and localization of the Kwale County Action Plan for Women, Peace and Security.