Women’s Empowerment Workshop

The female empowerment programme is a series of monthly workshops with refugee mothers and their daughters. The programme is designed to reduce the drop-out rate of girls from school and to enable women to take more control over their lives.

In 2012, Xavier Project conducted research alongside UNHCR into the standards of education for refugee children in Nairobi. The dropout rate in secondary school is considerably higher among girls. As it is, only 33% of Nairobi-based refugee children are able to afford to go to secondary school, so the percentage of girls in school is worryingly low.

Somali Women's Empowerment GroupThere are many reasons for this. Teenage pregnancy and early marriage is rife in patriarchal cultures, as an education is not considered necessary for wives. If a parent falls ill, it is often the daughter’s responsibility to care for the rest of the family, perform the household chores and take on her parents’ work. In these circumstances it is implausible for the daughter to stay at school.

The meetings will examine the social role of women, both in Kenyan society and the refugees’ home countries. The women will learn their human rights as set out by the UN, and consider whether they access these rights at home and at work. The meetings will also address where power lies within relationships, as well as various gender inequalities.

They will then reflect on how women can effect change within their communities through learning to advocate. Finally the beneficiaries will discuss ways to get involved in their children’s education.

The topics for each session are outlined below:

1.        Gender and power in relationships
2.         Human rights
3.         Identity and relationships
4.         Bodies and sexuality
5.         Sexual and reproductive health and rights
6.         Motherhood and care-giving
7.         Economic imbalances
8.         Women at work (two sessions)
9.         Leadership
10.       Community leadership
11.       The importance of education and the consequences of dropping out
12.       Parental involvement in education
13.       Conclusion

Currently Xavier Project works with a group of 30 Somali women and a group of 25 Sudanese. Each group is run by a trained refugee facilitator. Following the workshops, Xavier Project accompanies the groups into their communities to identify the services that are lacking and design interventions that the women can lead.