During Women’s International Day, Miss Kangwana Celebrates how she positively touched 5,000 women and girls in the Kisii community amid Covid19
As Kenyans join women across the globe to celebrate women’s international day, this year women reflect the wounds and pain caused by the coronavirus pandemic whereby women and girls were the most affected during this period.
After the first coronavirus case was Confirmed in Kenya a year ago, it negatively impacted women and their families at the height of lockdown as students were shut out of their classrooms.
Meet Edinah Kangwana a Mother of five, gender and youth advocate, mentor coach, a change and transformative leader, Minister of Administration in the Kisii County Government who transformed the lives of many young women and girls during the lockdown.
At the center of Coordinating the emergency response to Covid-19, she was delegated to implement some directives to curb the spread of the virus, here she went out of her way to reach out to women and extended a helping hand for them to go on with life in the new norm.
“Most women in Kisii occupy the lower part of the economic pillar such as micro-entrepreneurs, working with very small capital mostly borrowed from shyllocks and paying daily with very high-interest rates charged with no social protection and mostly they are unbanked, “Said Miss Kangwana.
The Covid 19 restrictions sent these women home with an empty hand, attending to their children who were off school very vulnerable and needed to be protected.
A number of these women feared off going to access essential services like reproductive health services leading to unplanned births.
Since Covid, Kangwana has reached out to about 5,000 women and girls in this community to encourage and shade a light to come back to the norm after the pandemic.
“I took an initiative to reach out to the women and engage them in a bid to build resilience during and after Covid 19 Pandemic, it was challenging with the burden of Covid we had to ensure compliance to Covid-19 guidelines, I had to be very flexible and reach them in their set up in small groups, “she added.
Miss Kangwana worked with local administration and village leadership to mobilize them and got PPEs such as masks and sanitizers from well-wishers and send to them ahead of their engagements.
“On Economic empowerment, We engaged our women on the need to form themselves into small registered groups for easy access to unsecured credit, the need to register their own business for those who had more muscles, the need to be involved in other economic activities like modern kitchen gardening, “she added.
On Health discussion, she went along with health care workers and covered some topics such as Mental health, reproductive health, ministerial, and other general health issues.
This is when she realized some women stopped seeking reproductive health services during the lockdown and feared visiting health facilities, she encouraged them not to stop seeking essential services and even asked those health workers to provide such services for them in such forums in the villages. Because they are part of their rights.
On GBV they sensitized them to speak up, to report, to look out to the telltale signs, to shun off kangaroo courts.
General health issues we engaged them on lifestyle diseases and other non-communicable diseases, terminal illnesses like cancer and we sensitized them on what to look out for and always do medical checkups.
Miss Kangwana formed village groups for girls and boys to study separately during the lockdown and those teachers who were involved in community learning helped them carry on their studies.
“I urged our girls to stay at home and cease from visiting far away relatives.
For this was emerging as the loophole created to run away from parents and in the process of visiting relatives they went to their boyfriends and some became pregnant, “she added.
She provided them sanitary pads which in most cases the young girls cited was the reason why they got involved in pre-mature sex in exchange for pads and other sanitary essentials.
“I have 30 girls expectant and nursing that I keep encouraging as they carry out their studies,10 boys who got married during the school close down they have wives some who are expectant, they didn’t want to go back to school and yet they were candidates, “said Miss Kangwana.
She has carried talks with parents to support the already expectant ones Not leave them alone and seek condolences in the wrong hands like leads to unsafe abortions but to support them to complete their education.
“funding myself is the biggest challenge, have no sponsor. I purely did this from my small savings, always set aside some resources from my salary for community service, “said Kangwana.
From time to time she gets support from her family and good friends, she feels it is not always good to overburden her friends for a course she chose to do herself.