Today is the International Day of the Girl! At Uweza, we believe deeply in providing equal opportunities for girls and women and prioritizing gender equality is woven into the design and implementation of all of our programs. Two of our programs, Golden Girls Power and Bright Futures, were created specifically to provide platforms and safe spaces for girls and women to find solutions to the challenges they face and work together to pursue their dreams.
This year’s theme “My Voice, Our Equal Future” encourages us to be inspired by what adolescent girls see as the change they want and by their solutions to the challenges facing girls. Our photography teacher and Kibera-based photographer, Atieno Muyuyi, took the chance to speak with four Uweza program participants about life as an adolescent girl and what the future for girls and women looks like to them.
Low self esteem is on the rise among girls my age especially after starting our menses. The Golden Girls Power program at Uweza helps boost my self esteem and have confidence. I am now able to talk to people without being shy and give advice to friends who are younger than me. I am also able to express myself well.
Since the Covid-19 pandemic entered Kenya, girls have been vulnerable, especially those coming from informal settlements like me. The skills I learned from taekwondo classes at Uweza have been able to help me protect myself in some few instances. I used to train the other girls when the coach was not able to make it and now that there are rules and health guidelines because of Covid-19, it’s been hard to meet and conduct taekwondo classes. So I usually make sure I train myself in our house everyday.
I aspire to study law and be a lawyer so that I can champion for the rights of our girls in my community.
– Khadija, age 15, member of Golden Girls Power
I hope for a future where girls will be given spaces to take up all roles. The skills that I get from Uweza Art Gallery have been beneficial to me as I am able to teach other kids around my area and help them appreciate art.
– Winnie, age 12, members of Art Program, Sponsorship Program, and Golden Girls Power
I appreciate the opportunity from Uweza Foundation to enable me go back to high school after being away for so long. I want to build myself and create a good environment for the girls coming after me. Growing up as a girl, I went through a lot and I wouldn’t want my daughter to go through the same. I want to create a conducive environment where she will be free to share how she feels and pursue whatever career she wants without fear of judgement.
– Zura, age 18, member of Bright Futures
I dropped out of high school due to unavoidable circumstances. My passion for soccer led me to join the Uweza women’s soccer team and on the side, I am pursuing a course in hairdressing. I am happy because I am now able to make independent decisions with guidance from my elders. Despite being criticized by people that football will not take me anywhere, I am very much positive I will make something out of it. I aspire to play for international teams and that’s why I am working hard. I pray for a future where girls like me will be given opportunities in fields that are always criticized by society so that we can prove society wrong.
– Julia, age 18, member of the Uweza women’s soccer team
About the photographer: Atieno Muyuyi is a 28 year old woman from Kibera slum in Nairobi, Kenya. With a Diploma in Journalism and a short course in Film production, she is privileged to have worked with different organization within Kibera on communication capacity before she decided to settle on freelance documentary photography.
Atieno has been practicing photography since 2017, covering different events and working on documentary assignments within Kibera and other parts of the country. Atieno has also been teaching photography for children and youth at Uweza Foundation since 2018.