Strong sisterhoods build strong futures

Girls Empowerment

Challenges

Already living in areas struggling with overcrowding, poor sanitation, poverty, and limited educational and economic opportunities, adolescent girls and young women (AGYW) in informal settlements also face high rates of teenage pregnancy, sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV), gender inequality, and social and cultural norms that devalue women’s rights 

Despite there being a range of girls’ programs in Kenya, AGYW struggle to find opportunities to shape and drive critical aspects of those programs. Furthermore, community ownership of girls-centered programming is rare, leading to a lack of sustainability. 

of women in Kibera report experiencing some form of violence in their lifetime.

of women in Kenya cannot participate equally and effectively in political, economic, and cultural life.

of adolescent girls in Kibera have either given birth or are pregnant with their first child.

Our Approach

CFK supports AGYW through a dual strategy of mentorship and advocacy, using male involvement as an auxiliary approach to help promote gender equity. 

Recognizing that AGYW face unique challenges, CFK builds self-agency among program participantsprovides them with access to a support and accountability system, and encourages them to develop and use their voices, creating strong sisterhoods.

CFK Solutions

Mentorship
Advocacy
Safe 24/7
Girls in STEM

Mentorship

Safe Spaces act as the primary point of service for AGYW connecting with CFK. They provide areas where girls are physically, emotionally, and psychologically safe to connect with one another, form strong sisterhoods, learn about sexual and reproductive health, and access mentorshipCFK provides tailored support to two different mentorship cohorts: adolescent girls aged 9-18 and teenage mothers. 

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girls served
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sanitary towels provided
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boys-only safe spaces operated

Advocacy

While girls younger than 18 rarely have the right to vote or be elected to office, the right to have their voices heard in any decision-making process is one instilled in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Women face multiple barriers to full participation, but they often first experience these challenges as AGYW, which can limit their participation and leadership later in life. Prevailing social norms and cultural attitudes discourage AGYW activism, which in turn limits their willingness and agency to take action.  

CFK intervenes by facilitating opportunities for and encouraging AGYW to engage in activismshape CFK programs, and contribute to policies addressing issues that affect girls, their families, and their communities. Strategies used include public participation, community conversations and Girls Parliament. 

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Community Conversations held
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girls participating in Girls Parliament
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people reached through radio spots

Safe 24/7

Sexual violence is one of the most critical public health and human rights issues in Kenya today. Though survivors of sexual violence often suffer from a host of short- and long-term impacts on their physical and mental health – including depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder – they lack access to affordable, long-term psychosocial support.  

Free support groups are often operated by survivors or counselors with minimal training and limited resources while one-on-one therapy currently includes maximum of four sessions, which is not enough to fully address survivors’ trauma. 

Developed in partnership with the Adelle Onyango Initiative and created on the belief that all women deserve to feel safe 24 hours a day 7 days a week, Safe 24/7 is a free 14-week group therapy program for survivors of sexual violence that uses a three-stage counseling approach to help women reclaim their mental health, build resilience, and create a sisterhood that serves as a support system during and after the program. The project also connects women to additional medical and legal services as needed. 

Safe 24/7 believes in nothing for us without us, so women’s voices are included at every stage of the project. Kenyan women who are survivors of violence or who have worked with survivors of violence helped design the Safe 24/7 manual and toolkit, which help guide women through healing and resilience building. 

Safe 24/7 is currently in the pilot phase and is seeking additional funding to progress. If you are interested in learning more or investing in this initiative, please email admin@carolinaforkibera.org. 

Girls in STEM

CFK has introduced a new project under the Girls Empowerment Program. Over the last three years, the program has had a major focus on girls’ education, more so teenage mothers enjoying their right to education. Increasing our efforts in the girls’ education space, the new project will focus on increasing adolescent girls’ involvement in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM).

Women’s participation in STEM has been noted not only in Kenya but globally to be on a slow incline, thus calling for a need to spark the interest among young women as early on as possible. By doing so, there is a chance to increase the number of women in decision-making roles within the STEM field, thereby applying a gender lens when making policies or projects that affect women’s daily lives. The project’s primary role is to increase participation at the school level to have a ripple effect on girls’ career choices and, ultimately, women’s representation in the different fields of STEM.

Girls in STEM is currently in the pilot phase and is seeking additional funding to progress. If you are interested in learning more or investing in this initiative, please email admin@carolinaforkibera.org. 

CFK student with trophy

Legacy Project: Funzo

In 2018, CFK launched Funzo, an education advocacy project for teenage mothers. The project’s focus was to help teenage mothers realize their right to education by encouraging them to re-enroll in school or remain in school even through pregnancy, creating a supportive community culture, and mitigating stigma and discrimination related to teenage pregnancy, which is often the cause of school dropout and other challenges facing teenage mothers.

With an understanding of the interrelated issues surrounding early pregnancy, Funzo established a four-pronged approach, implementing targeted interventions for teenage mothers, their parents, the community, and key stakeholders (e.g., schools, health facilities, and the government). Between 2018 and 2020, Funzo helped more than 400 teenage mothers re-enroll in school, established memorandums of understanding with local schools on the treatment and acceptance of teenage mothers in class, and sought to influence widely accepted policies that support and protect teenage mothers.

CFK Funzo mom and child in Kibera
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schools engaged in Memorandums of Understanding outlining the re-enrollment and acceptance of teenage mothers at school
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teenage mothers re-enrolled in school
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GEP partner schools have established daycare centers, allowing teenage mothers to come to school with their children at no extra cost

Related Resources

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CFK Leaders Discuss Expansion & Advocate for Informal Settlements on NTV Kenya
CFK Executive Director, Hillary Omala, and Partnerships and Fundraising Manager, Ann Kungu, discussed CFK’s expansion plans and the importance of community development work in informal settlements during an hour-long NTV Kenya segment on August 31. 
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