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Thursday, 30 January 2014

Women form social welfare groups for empowerment

By Philip Mwamrizi 

Women empowerment is now considered as a human right but also as a pathway through which Kenya can achieve Vision 2030. In Sipili division, Laikipia County women have not been left behind as they have come together to form Kiraini Women Group. The group already has a membership of over 100 women.
Kiraini Women Group is a self help group which uses an old principle of pooling of resources. The groups contribution is similar to Merry go round, but with a little twist where instead of going round contributing money from the first  to the last member, only the one in need of the money is contributed to. One member can have the cash up to three or more times before another does but so long as it is a genuine reason for the rest to give up their contributions for her course.
Women selling farm produce at Sipili Market

“The group has really changed our lives.  Some of the members have been able to venture into business and even pay hospital bills for their families,” said Benedeta Wanjiru.
Hospital bills, funeral expenses, wedding expenses and other domestic problems that require heavy financing such as repair of a house brought down by strong rain and wind are some of the risk that the group covers for members through contribution.
In the event that a member needs some urgent cash, she will bring it to the attention of the others who then have to contribute a mandatory fixed amount that may change depending on the type of risk. However anything extra above the fixed amount set is only raised by members who are willing and able to contribute the amount.
 “Some of the problems we experience include lack of member’s contribution. Some of the members rarely contribute and this has affected some of the things we are supposed to do,” said Benedeta.
Traders at Sipili market
“I will not say that it is the fault of the defaulting members but rather the economy of the country. Coming up with money is sometimes difficult,” added Benedeta.
Kiraini Women Group Members meet once a month to discuss housekeeping issues and also to brainstorm on how they can assist members who require financing.
The Kenyan Constitution has opened many opportunities that take cognizance of the role of women and their full participation in economic, political and social sectors. Many Kenyan opinion leaders believe that empowering women to participate fully in economic life is essential in improving the quality of life for women.
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