Monday, 7 December 2015


Isn’t it a blessing when you get to see the end of yet another year? It is important to appreciate yourself, where you have come from and the achievements you have made no matter how small they may seem. APPRECIATE! In every start of year, people make different resolutions. For us, our resolution each year is to change the lives and make an impact in young women’s lives. This we believe we have given our very best to achieve this year and that through our work, we have not only made an impact in young women’s lives, but that we have inspired them and many of our readers out there to move from their comfort zones and motivate themselves to be better and do better.

I have definitely been inspired by my work this year. Not only have I learnt to appreciate what I have and the person I have become, but I have also learnt to be more patient and resilient. I have gained exposure through women and girls’ stories and experiences and most of all I have had fun!

Hello December, Time Flies! I finally got my undergraduate degree this year. I was very angry and disappointed last year December for not graduating with my class because of a mistake within my faculty. But, somethings have a way of working themselves out. I am really grateful for the tremendous support I have gotten from my SISTERS because going through my school life would have been so much difficult had they not have been part of my support system. Going through university is not easy, especially when you have to work to pay your own school fees, but it is not impossible.

I hope this post inspires all the young women who are pursuing their education and are facing all sorts of challenges along the way, or are stuck in the process of it all. Do not give up! Open up to your sisters and let them be part of your journey, because they are a hot bed of ideas, solutions and just basic support…which, believe me you will need along the way!
That being said, happy Holidays to our Readers and the entire Resource Center for Women and Girls Fraternity

Love and Love!
Ivy Nyawira

Monday, 26 October 2015


WHEN readers hear about “modern slavery” in America or abroad, they may roll their eyes and assume that’s an exaggeration. Slavery? Really? Modern slavery?
If you’re one of the doubters, then listen to Poonam Thapa, a teenage girl I met here in Nepal, where she is putting her life back together after being sold to a brothel.
And if you think, as Amnesty International suggested recently, that the solution is to decriminalize the commercial sex trade around the world, then pay special heed.
Poonam was poor and uneducated when a woman offered an escape in the form of a well-paying job. “You can have a better life,” Poonam remembers the woman saying. “And if you make good money, you will be respected by your father. You can help your family.”
So Poonam, then age 12, ran off with the woman. When Poonam was eventually deposited in a brothel in Mumbai, India, she was puzzled. “I didn’t even know what a brothel was,” she recalls.
The brothel owner, a woman, dolled her up in a skimpy dress, equipped her with falsies, and gave her heels. Then the owner sold Poonam’s virginity to an older man.
“The man raped me,” Poonam says. “I didn’t know what he was doing. But I was bleeding and hurting and crying.”
The brothel owner sternly told Poonam to buck up — she had paid $1,700 for Poonam and needed to recover her investment. So Poonam was locked inside the brothel, forced to have sex with 20 to 25 men a day, and more on Sundays and holidays. There were no days off, no trips outside the brothel, and, of course, no pay.
One day Poonam was hurting and refused a customer. She says the brothel-owner beat her and burned her with cigarettes; she showed me the scars.
Poonam thus became one of 20.9 million people worldwide — a quarter of them children — subjected to forced labor, according to the U.N.’s International Labor Organization. In the United States, tens of thousands of children are trafficked into the sex trade each year.
Men visiting Poonam’s brothel paid $2.50 for sex and were sometimes oblivious to the brutality, flattering themselves that the girls liked their work. They see girls who often smile; no one is holding a gun to their heads.
Poonam responded with what so many others have said: The smiles are on the outside, even as girls are crying inside.
“We were told to smile, because a smile is money and will pull in customers,” Poonam said. The girls were also ordered to say that they were over 18 and working voluntarily.
Then one day police raided the brothel. Warned by the brothel owner that the police would torture her if they found she was a child or trafficked, Poonam claimed that she was 23 and working voluntarily, but the police could see that she was a child and took her to a shelter.
What makes me sick is that there are "customers" who relish this sort of thing. Surely that man who paid for her virginity knew what he was...
Indian authorities returned Poonam to the care of Maiti Nepal, a leading anti-trafficking organization. Now Poonam is studying to be a social worker in hopes of helping other trafficked girls. A new study suggests that post-traumatic stress disorder is frequent among those who have been trafficked.
Anuradha Koirala, founder of Maiti Nepal, notes that there has been a bit of progress against sex trafficking of Nepali girls. A crucial step, whether in Nepal or the United States, is ending the impunity for pimps and traffickers, and Koirala says that Maiti Nepal has helped prosecute 800 people for involvement in trafficking. In America as well, we need to prosecute traffickers rather than their victims.
Plenty of well-meaning people back Amnesty International’s proposal for full decriminalization of the sex trade, including of pimps and brothels, and it’s certainly true that some women (and men) work in the sex trade voluntarily. Yet in practice, approaches similar to Amnesty’s have ended up simply empowering pimps. And while under these proposals human trafficking would remain illegal, the police would no longer have a reason to raid brothels to search for girls like Poonam. Both Poonam and Koirala think that full decriminalization is a catastrophic idea; if it were in place, Poonam might still be enslaved.
“There is no protection to the powerless,” Koirala said of full decriminalization. “All the benefits go to the perpetrators and exploiters.”
The blunt truth is that no strategy works all that well against trafficking. But maybe the most successful has been Sweden’s, cracking down on traffickers and customers while providing social services and exit ramps for women in the sex trade.
That’s what human trafficking is, an ugly form of exploitation that at its worst amounts to modern slavery. In the 21st century, isn’t it finally time to abolish slavery forever?

Wednesday, 8 July 2015


Our first day in Amsterdam!! I had expectations and I was excited about it all. Being my first time to travel out of my motherland Kenya; I had heard so many things prior to this trip about how people lead their lives abroad, what they eat, how they dress and the thrill of all this hearsay was the fact that I was going to see and experience it all first hand.

On arrival, we were met by an Intern at the Mama Cash office called Heather, who would be our guide for the day. I noticed how clean the city was and that there were a lot of people cycling in the city and the bikes were even more than the people themselves. I have never seen so many bikes in my life!

We boarded a bus, different from how we do it back home of course, there is a more organised and systematic process to the transport system in Amsterdam and apparently in all of Europe, that I wish we could adopt back in Kenya. The bus took us to a stop near the hotel and from there we had to walk to the hotel which was about 5 minutes away. When we got to the hotel, we met other mama cash grantees who had come for the festival, Faith Phiri and Memory Banda, from Malawi.
We went for dinner with three of Mama Cash staff and Heather and there we got a small briefing of how the following day would be and what to expect.
The following day on Friday 26th June we were escorted to an Arts school which would be the venue of our rehearsal. We met two theatre and art directors Khadijah and Lennie took us through the presentation and delivery of our stories.
At the theatre we met Amber and Charlotte, from the Netherlands who would also be participating in the presentation at the festival. Our rehearsal session started by introducing ourselves and sharing our stories, which the art directors would then guide us on how best to deliver it.

I shared my inspiration to the group, which comes from a character called Akoko in the book the river and the source. Akoko is the daughter of a chief who married her off at 19. She got married to a chief as well and was unable to bear more than three children, and for that she was accused of witchcraft making her husband consider getting a second wife.
This did not sit well with Akoko and in her husband’s absence, she left and went back home something that was not very common among women during that time. Her courage, confidence and bravery to defy the harmful traditions bestowed upon her is one of the main things that inspires me.
This is because we are always taught to be like Akoko at the camp. To be confident and to be courageous, and most importantly to transfer the same skills to other girls who do not get the privilege of attending the camp.


The day I had been waiting for, the day I had heard so much about, and worked hard to prepare for was finally here! The theme of the festival was Gelik=Anders meaning Equal is different. This was such an exciting day and I was looking forward to the activities that would happen and most of all, the presentation I would be part of titled ‘NEXT GENERATION FEMINISTS’. We arrived at the venue earlier than the sessions were scheduled so as to do final touch ups on our rehearsals, which went very well and everyone had mastered their part of the presentation.

We were thereafter directed to the official opening of the festival which was done by the director of Mama Cash, Nicky McIntyre, and after that people went to different sessions by different festival organisers and participants.
I went to a session by Girls Rights Watch which reflected on issues on the post 2015 Agenda and whether youth should participate. I was not sure and I am still learning about what the post 2015 Agenda is, but it was a great session and also the fact that I got to speak despite the fact that I was the youngest in the room. I felt so empowered!!
Then came our session, ‘THE NEXT GENERATION FEMINISTS’. We headed to the room where we would be presenting and started getting ready and preparing and we waited for people to start coming in. In a few minutes, the room was already packed!! We had a great turn up for our session.

I was a bit nervous, but I was ready! I knew I would make my fellow sisters back home very proud. After everybody settled down, we started our presentation, Memory, went first and I followed. I gave it my all and represented the Akoko very well and I was also very proud of myself.
A Q and A session followed after our presentation, but Ivy, who accompanied me on this trip and Faith who accompanied Memory Introduced themselves first.
One of the questions asked was how people view Feminism in our countries, especially by men. Ivy responded by saying that most men identify with feminism ideologies but never get to say it out loud. She continued by saying that feminists are seen as these women who never go to the salon, or dress nicely or even get married. She gave an example of how she was even told to leave her feminism at the door before getting into the house by someone a while back.
The session and the presentation in general was received with very positive echoes and people were tweeting a lot about it. I was very happy about our presentation and the fact that we had done well!
I visited the Sex Museum the following day and went for a walk through the red light district, and this was a lifetime experience. I actually think I was very shy walking through the museum and the red light district. I was surprised at how liberated the Dutch people were about Sex!

This is not something you can find In Kenya and especially Machakos where I am from. I kept wondering how I would start explaining to my parents especially because of the culture of silence about sexual matters in African societies. This I must share with my sisters at the Camp during our Aunty’s box!
My last day in Amsterdam, we were invited to the mama cash office. They hosted us for lunch and I was very happy to meet the partners working with RCWG to support the camp program.

I also saw my fellow sisters from the camp in the june’s mama cash newsletter. This was very exciting especially because we were on the Cover page! Yaay!

The mama cash family was very friendly and welcoming and I was very proud to be part of such a great initiative.
I don’t take it for granted that I was chosen to represent more than 250 girls from the RCWG program, It was such an honor and I am very grateful to the Resource Center and Mama Cash for this wonderful life changing experience.


By Joy Mwende Kikuvi

Thursday, 28 May 2015


Menstrual Hygiene Day serves as a neutral platform to bring together individuals, organisations, social businesses and the media to create a united and strong voice for women and girls around the world, helping to break the silence around menstrual hygiene management.

Menstrual Hygiene Day will help to address the challenges and hardships many women and girls face during their menstruation, but also to highlight the positive and innovative solutions being taken to address these challenges.

The day catalyses a growing, global movement that recognizes and supports girl’s and women’s rights and build partnerships among those partners on national and local level.

It is an opportunity to engage in policy dialogue and actively advocate for the integration of menstrual hygiene management (MHM) into global, national and local policies, programmes and projects. It creates an occasion for media work, including social media.

Working With young girls, the menstrual hygiene day is an important day for us. This is a day that not only raises awareness on issues surrounding menstruation, but also shows that we are a step ahead in the right direction in ensuring that we work towards addressing menstruation challenges that girls have during this period, Literally!!