By Purity Jebor -Y.A.K Programs Officer
Many societies are known for adhering to and practicing cultural norms and values. With growing urbanization, one would think that some of these practices would fade with time. But this is yet to be witnessed. For instance, the value of unpaid care and domestic work (UCDW) still needs to be recognized to advance women’s social, economic, and political empowerment. The already harsh economic condition—made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic— makes it more difficult for many families to earn a decent living. In the informal settlements of the Nairobi City County (NCC), where the majority of residents depend on small-scale trade and casual work, the situation is grim.
” Women in these areas spend close to 14 hours daily on UCDW based on the average calculation from Youth Alive! Kenya’s (YAK) couple’s sessions . This is equivalent to six months’ worth of time that could have otherwise be spent on income-generating activities to increase family budgets“
At YAK, we recognize that change in attitude towards some retrogressive cultural beliefs that limit women from achieving their full potential is a gradual process. The partnership between YAK and Oxfam for the WE-Care project has embraced strategic interventions in catalyzing this transformative process in two informal settlements (Korogocho and Kawangware) in Nairobi that also host some traditional African churches.
YAK conducted couple’s sessions aimed at influencing households, as well as religious leaders, local administration, policymakers, and service providers by introducing them to the 4R advocacy on UCDW (i.e., recognition, reduction, redistribution, and representation). These stakeholders are important in our advocacy because they are the ones who attend policymaking processes that influence improved service delivery within communities. Moreover, during our quarterly reflection and annual meetings, our care champions are able to voice out their concerns, allowing leaders to respond and make commitments.
Here are some key outcomes realized in Year 1 of WE-Care:
- Increased awareness on UCDW and how it contributes to the socio-economic and political empowerment of women
- Effective engagement of women in the policymaking processes leading to new care-responsive projects considered by the NCC for FY2021/2022.
- Supported the small-scale businesses of 420 women with cash grants to be able to keep their businesses running amid COVID-19
“We also engaged with new partnerships to influence community leadership positions for women. We have learned that when men and religious leaders are engaged at the beginning of the project, it makes it easier to reach the community as they shape opinions and decisions”
YAK is excited to upscale UCDW discussions to the national level. We also look forward to fully engaging in the development of the NCC Gender-Based Violence Management Bill, as well as ensuring the new projects are fully implemented and are aligned with our set standards.