We, the Bavarian rural women are satisfied: Our commitment to improving the living conditions of Kenyan rural women has also achieved a lot in recent months - despite the Corona pandemic. "The hunger for further education is great," says Chairlady Anneliese Göller. The range of topics is diverse: it is about work in the household and the use of resource-saving stoves, about perspectives for securing one's own livelihood and about the expansion of an independent interest group that is concerned with the interests of Kenyan rural women and to give women a voice.
Use of energy-saving stoves
It is true that the Corona pandemic caused restrictions last year. Nevertheless, we have been able to organize over 40 training sessions in the districts of western Kenya in recent months.
What practical everyday problems does the project provide support for?
"First and foremost are the many and heavy physical chores in the household and in the fields. Just getting fresh water and firewood for cooking often takes hours. This is where we want to make the women's lives easier," says Angelika Eberl, project manager of BBV-Landfrauen Internationale Zusammenarbeit GmbH (BBV-LIZ).
different types of Jikos and their consumption of firewood.
A training course on resource-saving technology in the kitchen, which was free of charge for the participants, convinced around 60 rural women of the advantages of new energy-saving stoves. Up to 60 percent firewood can be saved - good for the wallet and good for the environment. "The lessons were a mix of theory and practice.
Together, we prepared a healthy and balanced meal with local food on the modern stoves. This allowed us to take away the women's shyness about the new technology," says Eberl. "And we are particularly pleased that the trained Kenyan women are passing on their newly acquired knowledge to rural women with great enthusiasm in self-organized events."
Perspective for one's own business idea
In compliance with the applicable Corona regulations, other training courses could also be held, for example business training. "Because further training has so far been or is reserved for men, and rural women usually do not have a regular income and also do not have access to credit, we want to give the women more security and self-confidence with customized training courses. After all, rural women are responsible within the family for paying school fees, school uniforms and books for their children, for example," says Angelika Eberl. Many of the Kenyan rural women face the challenge of starting a business and running it professionally, often lacking a clever business idea. "Most of the women do run a business, but they don't see it as a way to generate income; they usually give away their products in kind or for free instead of selling surpluses."
The trainings offer the women a perspective of staying at home and not having to migrate to urban centers. "They find joy in their work, because they can at least partially secure their livelihood," says Eberl.
Meanwhile, more than 300 farm women were invited to WoFaAK rural women's farms for business training, where they learned to analyze their economic status quo. "Most of the women were not aware of the importance of determining the profit they can make from their business activities. They really soaked up the knowledge about how to choose, start and maintain a profitable business," says Eberl. "These participants all went home highly motivated to quickly implement what they learned. And if, at the end, a participant writes in the evaluation form: 'WoFaAK is very caring,' then the trainings were successful and have brought the women a good deal forward," said Angelika Eberl.
First rural women's umbrella association in Kenya
A first milestone in the Kenya project of the Bavarian rural women was already set in the fall of 2017: the founding of the "Women Farmer Association of Kenya" (WoFaAK), the first rural women's association in Kenya.
"However, an umbrella organization needs numerous, active and satisfied members in order to work well. That's why we invited the chairpersons of all 75 member groups to one training on how to build networks, resolve conflicts and communicate successfully," Anneliese Göller, Chairlady, reports of the association's continued development.
"Daphne Muchai, the founder of WoFaAK, conducted the training and inspired the women with her knowledge, courage and commitment. Her example gives the women self-confidence, conveys to them that they are equal, not without pointing out that female self-empowerment can cause irritations - in the family and in society. That's why good open communication is so important and purposeful."
In the coming months, the trainings will continue. One particular concern is the course on how to avoid domestic violence. "Many women are not at all aware that they have rights and can claim them. With this, we want to encourage young girls and women in particular to have more self-determination," says Angelika Eberl. In addition, there should be an offer for young women to be trained as leaders in rural women's work, so that the rural women's association can exist and work successfully across generations.
Chairlady Anneliese Göller hopes for the time after the Corona pandemic and looks forward to the personal encounter with the Kenyan rural women: "We fervently hope to be able to carry out our personal exchange again soon, true to our motto: One profession - two worlds."