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Last month, we initiated a new project aimed at economically empowering women and protecting communities during COVID-19, funded by UN Women. Over the last few weeks, together with Kenyan fashion designers KikoRomeo, we have been training 120 women tailors from six areas of Nairobi (Eastleigh, Kibra, Mathare, Kawangware, Korogocho, Kangemi) in mask making, basic sewing and fashion design skills, and topics related to running and growing a small business.

Next week, having completed the training, the tailors will be producing a total of 57,000 masks that will be then distributed in the communities by an amazing team of 12 women-led CBOs, two from each community. During the distribution, the CBOs will also be conducting outreach and education on gender-based violence, reported incidents of which have increased during the COVID-19 pandemic.

By the time the project is completed, the tailors will have not only gained new skills through the training, they will be paid for each mask they produce and UN Women hopes to provide business loans for 30-50 women to invest into growing their tailoring business.