Kwabwai Youth Rise to Leadership Role

In the rural and conservative communities of Kenya, young women often face numerous challenges that leave them feeling voiceless and constrained. Traditionally, their roles have been limited to nurturing their families and maintaining their homes, discouraging them from expressing their opinions and pursuing leadership positions. However, change is slowly brewing in these communities, thanks to efforts by organizations like ActionAid International Kenya (AAIK).

Vivian Ouda facilitating a women’s meeting in Kwabwai village.

Vivian Ouda, a quiet and reserved young woman from Kwabwai village in the Nyokal Local Rights Programme (LRP), Ndhiwa, Homabay County, exemplifies this transformation. For a long time, the 27-year-old Early Childhood Development Education (ECDE) teacher harbored a passion for serving her community but felt compelled to conform to the conservative ways of her village. Despite longing for change, Vivian rarely attended community meetings, as women were seldom allowed to publicly voice their opinions.

The promulgation of the Constitution of Kenya, 2010 marked a turning point for women’s participation in political processes and decision-making spaces. The two-thirds gender rule enshrined in Articles 97 and 98 mandated both governmental and non-governmental organizations to work towards gender equality. This new beginning created a conducive environment for communities like Kwabwai to embrace women’s leadership.

In 2021, during community inception and sensitization meetings, AAIK made its entry into Nyokal LRP, opening opportunities for women to step into leadership roles. Vivian, driven by her desire to contribute to her community, visited ActionAid’s offices to explore how she could get involved. In June 2022, along with 32 other young people from Nyokal LRP, she was invited to attend a Leadership, Organizing, and Social Movement Building training.

With young women often perceived as unprepared for leadership positions, Vivian challenged this notion by seeking the youth ward representative position.

“The training increased my knowledge on issues of governance and leadership. It is this training that awakened my zeal to seek a leadership role in my community, and I successfully ran for office to become a Ward Youth Representative,” said Vivian, a mother of two who now aspires to vie for the Member of County Assembly (MCA) position in 2027.

As the Kwabwai Ward youth representative, Vivian identified the lack of impactful participation in policy-making by the youth, especially young women. She noted that many young women, including young mothers, lack knowledge about the issues that affect them in the community. Even when they are aware, they often lack the confidence to articulate their concerns effectively.

To address this, Vivian initiated a mentorship program for young mothers, empowering them with the knowledge and skills needed to tackle community issues. Through this program, it became clear that economic empowerment was also necessary. Vivian organized training sessions on sustainable food production and poultry keeping. As a result, the participating families are now food secure and can trade their surplus yields.

In addition to economic empowerment, Vivian is a staunch advocate for children’s rights in her community. She works to create a conducive environment for holistic child growth by sensitizing parents about child protection issues. These issues include teenage pregnancies, school dropouts, defilement, sexual exploitation, and physical and emotional abuse.

“I thank ActionAid for investing in me. This has given me the confidence and a platform to bring change to my community,” added Vivian.

Vivian Ouda’s journey from a reserved young woman to a community leader highlights the potential for transformation when women are given the opportunity and support to lead. Her story is a testament to the power of education, mentorship, and the unwavering desire to bring about positive change.

Author: Jospher Akinyi, Community Development Facilitator, Nyokal Local Rights Program,

Editorial Team: Ezra Kiriago ,Communications Coordinator ActionAid Kenya, Mary Consolata Makokha, Communications Officer ActionAid Kenya 

2 thoughts on “Kwabwai Youth Rise to Leadership Role”

  1. Really impressive and we have seen changes contributed by actionaid team. Keep bringing the good motives within our society. 💪

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