A 21-year-old University of Nairobi student is empowering women in Migori County by creating opportunities and working with the community to uplift the lives of the underprivileged. Lydiah Anyango Ojowi, a third year B.Com student, balances her time between the Lower Kabete campus and Migori.
So what is this third born in a family of seven doing with poor women and school dropouts in the village when most of her class mates are spending their resources on living large in campus?
“I founded Women ACTS-Africa early this year, together with Volunteers League, a group of youths from all over the country that support our activities,” she told Capital Campus in an interview.
“We educate women on income generating activities like making of shaggy mats, knitting, crocheting, food preparation, small scale agriculture and making of liquid soap. They sell their products and earn income,” said Lydia.
Women ACTS-Africa is currently registered as a community organization pending registration as a national NGO. As the president of the organization, she is determined to empower women through a range of activities.
For Lydia, this is not enough; she oversees a series of programs.
“Other than the enterprise program, we have sexual and reproductive health program, gender based violence prevention program, integrated community outreach program and a life skills development program.”
Women ACTS-Africa is currently working with 22 self-help women groups and developing slums in Migori. Lydia says the organization is not just depending on funding from donors and well-wishers.
“We get little money from exhibitions, sale of t-shirts, caps and bands, fun days. We are also planning to have a fundraising gala night towards the end of the year.”
While growing up, Lydia was touched by the plight of women and the girl child; from discrimination to exploitation.
“I have observed that women and girls have limited access to education, information, lower decision-making power and restricted mobility. This is what motivated me to do something in my community.”
The greatest challenge for the ambitious UoN student as she empowers the vulnerable women of Migori is not finances but men who are skeptical about her intentions.
“We get resistance from men who think our organization seeks to radicalize women to become tough-headed but we try to involve them (men) in some of our programs to demystify some of these misconceptions,” concludes Lydia.