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WE-Care

Sep 25, 2023 | 0 comments

Youth Alive Kenya has been working in resource-poor areas in Nairobi {Korogocho, Kawangware} and Kiambu (Uthiru) to create awareness of unpaid care domestic work [UCDW] through the We-Care Project in partnership with Oxfam Kenya for the last three years. WE-Care’s goal is to reignite progress on gender equality by addressing the largest, least-recognized factor preventing women from reaching their full potential – Unpaid Care and Domestic Work (UCDW). By recognizing, reducing, and redistributing UCDW, We-Care promotes a just society where women and girls have more choices across all stages of their lives, in economic, social, and political activities, and where carers’ voices are heard in the decision-making about policies and budgets at all levels. Unpaid Care and Domestic Work (UCDW) has been shown to sustain societies and economies through the provision of care for children, the elderly, and sick persons, as well as for persons with disabilities. The unpaid care and domestic work are disproportionately done by girls and women, limiting their opportunities to participate in education, political life, decently paid employment, and even leisure. Girls and women are therefore trapped in heavy and disproportional UCDW, leading to increased poverty, as well as limiting them from forming solutions to the social, economic, cultural, and political problems in society. Based on this concept, the WE-Care project seeks to create a just and inclusive society that recognizes, and works towards reducing and redistributing UCDW. From result of a recently concluded end-of-project evaluation exercise,  it was observed that a significant majority of the participants were aware of unpaid care domestic work and considered UCDW normal or rather a cultural norm in society, hence not likely for the victims of UCDW to seek support from partners. It was also highlighted that it overworked a particular gender, in this case, women and girls taking up a significant chunk of their time. Some quotes from the participants in regard to how they perceive unpaid care domestic work were as follows, “It is a lot of work for us women and no one pays us, they expect us to do the work without complaining or getting tired. ”Grace Kanini, Ngomongo, Nairobi. “It’s just normal for us women to do domestic work. We were taught that way by our mothers and we are used to it. It’s not hard.” Margret Ogolla, Kawangware, Nairobi. Focus group discussions in Kawangware (L) Key informant interview in Uthiru (R.) with beneficiaries of WE-Care Youth Alive! Kenya employed several strategies in the project  to contribute to the empowerment of women. By creating awareness in the community among men and women about unpaid care domestic work, women and girls’ rights, and domestic workers’ rights, and made sure that the concept of UCDW has been recognized through sensitization.  In addition, training women and couples on business ideas, the importance of public participation, and the need to eliminate gender-based violence. Lastly, economic empowerment of women by facilitating them to start businesses of their own. OUTCOMES ACHIEVED BY THE PROJECT.

  • The creation of awareness on unpaid care domestic work has started shifting narratives as women shared that men have started taking up  house chores and taking care of children e.g taking them to school, and helping in fetching water. The largest gap that needs more advocacy efforts is the formulation of policies on UCDW which is currently lacking in Kenya.
  • The training has been effective in helping women come up with different business ideas that they do to sustain their lives and those of their children, leading to a reduction in poverty.
  • The couple’s training also reduced domestic violence as men understood women’s rights and the importance of working women who in turn help with providing for the family. It also reduced the rate of divorces and separation because women are now bringing something to the table. The training has seen domestic workers being respected and a great reduction in domestic workers being physically abused by their employers or them being denied their wages.
  • The training has also been very effective in improving the existing businesses through creating linkages with microfinance institutions as well as encouraging table banking activities. This has seen a great improvement in the businesses of the beneficiaries and as a result, reduced poverty.
  • A number of women were given business support in terms of cash transfers to boost female-led businesses’ resilience during COVID-19 so as to improve their quality of life and that of their families. They were able to  start small businesses e.g., selling vegetables, starting a hotel, baking cakes, making charcoal for sale, putting up retail shops, and many more.
  • Women’s advocacy championed by community role models has led to the putting up of infrastructure that has improved livelihoods. Some of the tangible impacts as a result of the advocacy were the construction of tarmac roads in both Korogocho and Kawangware areas, the putting up of street lights to improve security, enhancement distribution and piping of water to households, as well as construction and staffing Ngomongo Level II hospital. This strongly linked the WE-Care program to the progress made in infrastructural development, especially on roads, lighting, and healthcare among other areas.

Some quotes from key informants on the benefits of the project are as follows;

“I have benefited a lot from recognizing unpaid care domestic work. After we went to the couple’s meeting my husband now helps a lot with the children and house chores. When I come home late from my business at around 9 pm, I find food already prepared and the children have eaten and are asleep.” Catherine Nduta, Kawangware, Nairobi.

Yes, to some extent because we’ve reduced mental health cases among women and girls. Nowadays cases are reducing drastically unlike before when the women could be stressed because of being overworked without rest, domestic violence that was caused when the lady hasn’t finished some work also has reduced.” Flominia Mucheki, Director at Mind of Heart, Kiambu.

“We were able to get our roads constructed here in Korogocho. For instance, the road from Kisumu Dogo/stage ya Boda to Gonga Njaa Bridge was constructed because of our advocacy. This was in addition to the lights (mulika mwizi) installed here that have enhanced security for the women going to the market.” Female FGD member, Korogocho

Focus group discussion with beneficiaries in Uthiru (L) Key informant interview in Kawangware (R) The project has had a significant positive impact on society, and the WE-Care program has made substantial progress in the selected areas, as reported by the beneficiaries with identified gaps providing an opportunity to create more innovative interventions on UCDW in the communities. WE-Care grant beneficiary Kibanda groceries (L) Mama Sarah on her sewing machine funded by Y.A.K (R)

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