Girls and Young Women Assembly

“I want a boy child because they are facing less challenges at the moment in accessing opportunities”. This is one of those outstanding statements that comes out clearly from a young woman challenging the stigma surrounding gender.

Gender and gender roles has been hotly contested among many conversations. The current crop of young women still prefer having a boy child as compared to a girl. Why are the young women thinking the same as our older women. The change in thought process is expected to be that girls are more preferred.

However, with various reasons outlined below the boy child is still preferred to the girl child despite all the efforts to ensure the girl has equal opportunities to the boy.

Polycom held a Girls and Young women (GYW) Assembly at Grace-house Resort from 21st to 23rd and was attended by 34 GYW among them, 4 School going Teenage Girls 2 GYW with disability and a teenage mother. 6 GYW were from Mathare.

In one of the sessions, the facilitator used a story on choosing sex for an unborn baby to increase the participant’s understanding of the terms Gender and Sex. Using groupwork per table, participants shared reasons for preferring a boychild or a girl. Each person then gave personal reasons for their choice. Out of the 32 votes, 9 were for the girlchild while 21 were for the boychild.

Some facts that came out:

  • Due to social construction most people including the GYW believe that having a boy gives more security to the family and to the marriage.
  • A boy would carry the family name
  • A boy is stronger and will take care of their families.
  • Girls will be married and leave their families.

The girls were also taken through an advocacy training where they learnt how to craft advocacy messages which address the following

  1. What is the issue?
  2. Why should the decision-maker care about the issue?
  3. What is the proposed solution and how will it impact the problem?
  4. What do you want the decision-maker to specifically do following your interaction?

The training was participatory, where the participants took the centre stage in all the sessions. They identified a list of challenges hindering GYW from participating fully in leadership processes which they would wish to advocacy for among stakeholders.

Some of the issues highlighted were:

  • Limited advocacy programs,
  • Poor life skills training by parents and teachers and
  • Retrogressive cultural practices such as wife inheritance and FGM

GYW were challenged to prioritize their challenges in an advocacy roadmap that details their objectives and indicators that would be used to track their progress.  They were also urged to network and partner with other groups and organizations in order to develop new ideas and ways of thinking about issues, access knowledge and experience and gain support for their initiative.

GYW resolved to finalize the network registration process and start a communication channel through the social media (facebook) and an email address for official communication with both internal and external entities.

The conference culminated in an African Regalia that saw the girls contest for the top seat as a young woman who will represent the other young women in Kibera.

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