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Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Empowering women through GROOTS Kenya

By Bob Aston
Women empowerment has been cited as one of the ways of uplifting the livelihood of most families in Kenya. Ensuring that grassroots women are fully involved in development processes and decision making can play a big role in promoting women leadership in the country.
The lack of visibility of grassroots women in decision making processes that directly affect their lives and their communities led to the formation of Grassroots Organizations Operating Together in Sisterhood (GROOTS International). The organization which was founded in 1995 after the fourth UN conference on women in Beijing China seeks to give voice and power to grassroots women’s local visions and initiatives.
Mrs. Margaret Mwangi, GROOTS Kenya, Laikipia West sub county coordinator said that they work to develop poor rural and urban communities and empower women through valuing their work and creating opportunities for them. She said that they do this by focusing attention on the work and expertise of grassroots women through peer learning processes.
She said that their main goals include; strengthening women’s participation in the development of communities, supporting urban and rural grassroots women’s groups to identify and share their successful practices, focusing international attention on grassroots women’s needs and abilities and increasing the opportunities for grassroots women’s groups to network directly across countries.
“We are striving to build the capacity of grassroots women to take leadership roles in their communities. This is accomplished through advocacy, trainings and mentorship, “said Mrs. Mwangi.
GROOTS Kenya advances the knowledge of grassroots women and champions them as experts in order to influence policies and programs related to community development to engage grassroots women in decision making processes.
She said that GROOTS Kenya also provides as many opportunities as possible for women and girls to experience and participate in national and international forums on topics and issues that directly affect their lives.
“We are trying to ensure that grassroots women are masters of their own destiny through their direct participation in decision making processes,” said Mrs. Mwangi.
GROOTS Kenya currently has a membership of over 2,000 community based organizations and self help groups that are working to ensure that grassroots women are at the forefront of community change.
 She said that they are currently in the process of developing a County newsletter in Kakamega, Laikipia and Kiambu to celebrate, showcase, track and inspire other grassroots women to organize around the transformational development agenda.
“We are going to work with selected champions to document inspirational stories that have resulted from their work since 2008. This will be an opportunity for the selected champions to be trained on how to write professionally and also to celebrate their work,” said Mrs. Mwangi.
She said that grassroots champions are proving their capacity to serve as knowledgeable resources in their communities through the various projects that they are undertaking. She said that relationships within GROOTS Kenya provide women leaders with an opportunity to learn and share information pertinent to their work.
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