You are here: Home / BLOG
Sunday, 03 September 2017
Published in PROJECTS
Written by

This year I completed the Master’s Degree in Gender and Equality at the University of Pablo de Olivade in Seville and when I had to choose a topic for my Final Project I did not hesitate to focus on a place that was already part of my life, Afrikable, and on the women I admire the most, the women of this project.

This paper focuses on assessing whether economic empowerment and the creation of women’s support networks are a good way out of violence against women. To that end, I have approached legislative reforms, finding out about the public resources women of this island have, pondering the role of ethnic, cultural or religious differences among the women who are part of the project, and listening to the strategies that women currently have to resist and extract themselves from situations of violence.

I could try to search the information online and fill the project with national and international official statistics, arguing that Kenya is ranked 135 out of 159 countries in the Gender Inequality Index published by the United Nations or claim that according to national statistics, more than 44 % of women suffer physical violence throughout their lives. But based on my way of looking at life, that project would be meaningless because it would lack its essence, which is to listen to the protagonists, the indigenous women in Lamu who suffer Male Violence and have been resisting it throughout history.

That is why, in the months of June and July, I have done a research study thanks to the opportunity Afrikable has given me to look for these answers. In this research study, I have done in-depth interviews with the women who are part of the project, interviews with the women who have coordinated it in the last years. I have learned first-hand about the existing public resources, both the judicial system and the health system, and I have also given talks on Women’s Rights and Male Violence to Afrikable workers, the latter also carried out with teenagers.

Sonrisas infinitas 01

Despite the challenge of going overseas and completely changing context, it has been really easy to approach them, talk to them, listen to them and learn from them, especially learn. I was very afraid to look like a coloniser 2.0 who dares to come here to say what is right and what is wrong based on my Western standards and according to the public resources in my country, which are not many, but do exist. But my aim was quite the opposite, I’ve come to Afrikable because I was a holidaymaker in 2015 and I had the pleasure to meet the heroines that give the project shape and meaning. I have come to gather their testimonies because I believe in the value they may have for many other women.

In the next entries I will try to share the findings of this research study, focusing especially on Education, on how the level of education influences marriage equality; on Work, on how pursuing a career gives women economic empowerment; and on Male Violence, both in my conclusions after the interviews and talks and on an special post on the Male Violence Talk.

I hope that it is successful in approaching these women’s reality, Afrikable’s protagonists. I take with me the experience of getting to know a different reality and sharing priceless moments with these women, their wisdom to resist the most difficult situations and their fighting spirit towards change.

 

Author: Ana Fernández | Translator: Sonia Moscardó

Monday, 17 July 2017
Published in PROJECTS
Written by

Jorge Burón, a Political Science student at UAM (Autonomous University of Madrid), shares his experience during the fourth and last talk of a four-part cycle on Rights, Freedom and Democracy, from the point of view of politics he will undertake for Afrikable’s women beneficiaries, as part of his internship in the area of women empowerment in Lamu.

"In the last talk I don’t know if we have closed a cycle or started what could be a beautiful and hard road that must be walked always looking straight ahead and surpassing all obstacles that inevitably stand in the way.

It is difficult to analyse how this has happened and how it has evolved from the first day when we were strangers and we saw each other for the first time, until today that I know their lives and they greet me by my name, they hug me and kiss me. And even when I tell them that it’s my last day, that I’m going back to Madrid, they tell me: ‘Jorge hakuna Spain, Jorge hapa Lamu’. This time some tears were shed.

What has happened here in between? What have we achieved, if we have achieved anything? Will it be useful or will it be forgotten? Will they think about their lives and their children’s lives differently? Do they dream of a better world now or do they have nightmares when they feel the inequality even more? I don’t know the answer; I don’t think they are the right questions.

Grupos de debate 00

No one came to teach anyone. But for a month we have talked and thought about our lives, how they are, how we would like them to be and what we could do about it. Without lessons of any kind or master classes, I think we all have learned something in what I have always liked to call talks, because that’s what they were. Beautiful talks between strangers that have become friends and that I think now look at the world a little bit better, at least more objectively, with more perspective. We know the rights and freedoms of Kenya better, but also the wishes of human beings, the social, safety and freedom needs. What democracy means, what our real concerns are. And that we live in worlds that are so different they are almost opposites and we are almost the same because we are very much alike when we start talking about these things.

I’m really sad that it’s over.

I’ve been very lucky to be able to participate. Asante sana! Sincerely. Badae! See you soon :)"

 

Author: Jorge Burón | Translator: Sonia Moscardó

Monday, 10 July 2017
Published in PROJECTS
Written by

Jorge Burón, a Political Science student at UAM (Autonomous University of Madrid), shares his experience during the third talk of a four-part cycle on Rights, Freedom and Democracy, from the point of view of politics he will undertake for Afrikable’s women beneficiaries, as part of his internship in the area of women empowerment in Lamu.

"During the third talk, we talked about rights. About specific rights. About rights that appear in the Constitution of Kenya, and disappear in their society. Those they should know about, but what for if the reality is that they are not respected? The 2010 Constitution is one of the most advanced political texts in sub-Saharan Africa. But, what does it matter if the reality is that it fails to defend its citizens even though it has many fundamental rights drafted?.

But then, why were we talking about rights if it seems like, even if they are written on a paper, they don’t exist in their daily lives? They asked for it, they wanted to know them, and I prepared them and showed them to them. I think they already knew what they wanted them for, why they wanted to know them, even though I didn’t understand where things were headed yet. Once again they were the ones who would give the talk.

And not only them, in this third talk we had my colleague Ana, a student of the Master’s Degree in Gender Studies of Seville who came to Afrikable to do her master’s thesis with the women and who had already been here two years ago in the Volunteer Holidays program. Who better to tell them about their rights and their situation as women regarding those rights that are rarely respected and if you are a woman even less? So it was the two of us. Along with Lola, the founder of the project (together with Merche) who we were lucky to have and who had just arrived to the island. She provided essential support to bring about new dynamics to the talk and bring it to a successful conclusion. It was a success indeed, thanks to them and to Khadija, as always.

So we talked about rights. About their rights, those they have even though they are not fulfilled, those their Constitution shows off. About freedom of movement, Article 39.1, that no one can order you where to go or where you should be, no one can stop you from going or being where you want to be. About equality between men and women in marriage, Article 45.3, both sides have the same right and freedom to decide on their lives and their household. About universal access to emergency medical treatment, Article 43.2, if your child breaks a leg a doctor has to see them straight away, no excuses. About the right to life, Article 26.1. About equality before the law, Article 27.1. About all those issues that are central to their lives and they were organising in their heads. They were astonished, paying attention like never before, which is a lot to say, capturing and absorbing all the information well aware of its importance. In one of those heated but fun discussions they like to have, the real question, the purpose and the point of it all came to light.

Constitucion Kenia 01

One of them said that if they didn’t claim those rights, if they didn’t fight for them it was because they knew they didn’t stand a chance. Only a few of them are heard and many others are not heard because no one will listen to them. And it was then when another said, as if it were an evidence well-known by all: ‘but let’s see, if these rights are not for us, we must know them to pass them on to our children so they can experience them.

It has been the longest, most exciting, productive and beautiful talk so far. The more help, the easier, of course, but it also seems like we are going somewhere, that we are starting to take a direction. An idea about democracy and freedom that can be useful and necessary even though everything is contaminated by corruption, even though sometimes we fall into pessimism and it seems like we are stuck in stagnation. It’s not true. The children who listen to the talks and don’t understand while they cry in their mothers’ arms, start to make a lot more sense, sitting there watching and listening to the talk, even if it’s only so that they start to hear the words of the rights that one day they will have to defend and enjoy."

Derechos de la mujer 01

 

Author: Jorge Burón | Translator: Sonia Moscardó

Monday, 03 July 2017
Published in PROJECTS
Written by

Jorge Burón, a Political Science student at UAM (Autonomous University of Madrid), shares his experience during the second talk of a four-part cycle on Rights, Freedom and Democracy, from the point of view of politics he will undertake for Afrikable’s women beneficiaries, as part of his internship in the area of women empowerment in Lamu.

"Yesterday we talked about gender equality and I don’t know if we understood each other. I don’t mean the language, which is also an obstacle because simultaneous translation does not always work perfectly. How can one mediate as an interpreter in a discussion with 20 people at the same time? It’s complicated, but even so we understand each other quite a bit. Besides, I think it’s better that way. Sometimes they look at me after saying something and they all laugh at the same time as if to say ‘Poor guy doesn’t understand anything we say’. No need to, right? What am I going to teach them about their lives? About their husbands? About men?.

It was during the times that we managed to have a fluid English-Swahili dialogue when we did not understand each other much: ‘What inequality? Of course we are different. So what? What is the problem? Everyone plays a role, fills its role, contributes with some things and receives others.’ What if it’s true? But sometimes, many times, it doesn’t seem to be true. If a woman gets a job, often the husband leaves his and dedicates himself to the contemplative life, why should he work if she does it? A man who does not find a woman, kidnaps one, rapes her for three days and lets her go. But, who’s going to want her now she has been defiled? So he asks for her hand and they marry her. If they get divorced, the husband disappears; forget about the financial aid, the woman and the children have to live as they can, and the State does not help much either so that the maintenance obligation is complied with.

Not all of them do this, not all of them are like that, but these stories are their testimonies. Some of them have experienced it, and many more outside Afrikable, and others will experience it. So life does not seem the same for everyone, and yet they don’t see it?

Igualdad 01

Or maybe they don’t know what is it that they have to see. But unlike us, that think we know everything and actually we are just as blind as them or even more, they do listen, they do want to learn to look. They, these women, truly have an open mind, which does not mean knowing a lot of things as we think in our Western world, but wanting to learn lots of things. They really do have an open mind. Right before the end of the session, when it seemed like we weren’t going to find a point of connection, they saved the day again and said to me: ‘But let’s see, which are those rights we don’t have? What would the freedom we should have change? What’s with women’s rights? We don’t know them. Tell us about those rights, we want to know what they are, tell us about it and maybe we agree’. They are teaching me so much and I have so little to give them. But at least we have that, even though it’s hard, we manage to understand each other, because they have an open mind and they open mine.

So next week we will keep trying, this time we will talk about those rights they want to see but don’t know and those injustices they experience and that maybe one day can change for them, for their daughters, for their society. Disappear.

 

Author: Jorge Burón | Translator: Sonia Moscardó

SIGN UP FOR OUR NEWSLETTER

ABOUT AFRIKABLE

Afrikable is a Spanish charitable organisation, registered in the National Register of Associations under number 1/1/594088 and in the Spanish Agency of International Cooperation for Development (AECID)'s Register of Non-Governmental Organisations under number 2033.

 

In Kenya our association is called Afrika Able Organization and is registered with Kenya's NGO Coordination Board under number 10976.

WHERE ARE WE

  • Lamu, Kenia.
    Madrid, Spain
  • +34 605 722 162