Kenya is a country of significant ethnic and geographic diversity. Home to 41 million people, the population consists of more than 40 tribes and numerous ethnic groups. The population of Kenya is remarkably young, with 75% of the population under the age of 30. Kenya’s population has tripled over the last 30 years, a trend that will continue given the high fertility rate (4.49 children per woman).
Despite large gains in the health sector, Kenya still has much to overcome: life expectancy has declined since 1990 and is currently at 55 years; infant mortality rate is 44 deaths per 1,000; and preventable diseases such as malaria, HIV/AIDS, pneumonia, diarrhea and malnutrition are said to claim a child every four minutes. Female genital mutilation was outlawed in 2011, though continues to factor into the high rate of maternal mortality during childbirth.
Primary education was made free for all children in 2003 (which led to an enrollment increases of about 70%.) However, many children are still unable to attend school due to a lack of transport/access and other related economic factors, such as the cost of school necessities (books and school uniforms.) About 15% of Kenya’s population is still illiterate at a ratio of 2:1 women to men.
EAST AFRICAN GIRLS' LEADERSHIP SUMMIT 2016
Following the success of EAGLS 2015, PaperSeed is partnering with The Creative Action Institute (formerly ArtCorps) to bring 30 low-income, high-potential girls together for a week of leadership training.
Despite continued advocacy and countless organizations working on girls’ and women’s leadership and empowerment, African women remain vastly underrepresented in decision-making roles across the continent. Young women continue to battle for access to education and struggle to complete their education due to family pressure, societal expectations and access to resources. EAGLS seeks to address this issue by providing young women with the skills they need to become future leaders. This project strengthens both formal and non-formal education for girls and young women by addressing barriers to access and quality, including gaps in leadership, gender-responsive education environments, and community awareness and support of girls’ rights to education.
Safe Space for Girls
We are thrilled to be working with Generation Guiders once again to bring much needed services to adolescent girls in Nairobi's Githurai district. Generation Guiders promotes girls’ rights, empowerment and education by reaching out to advance the circumstances of girls wherever they are economically deprived, at risk of abuse, subject to harmful cultural practices or living in areas of instability.
Kenya has an extremely high rate of teen pregnancy; more than 1 in every 100 pregnancies can be attributed to a girl between 15 and 19 years old. Most of these girls are also victims of child marriage. Sub-Saharan African women also disproportionately suffer from HIV/AIDS, due in part to higher rates of sexual assault and a lack of awareness in the community. Generation Guiders works to turn this trend by offering a myriad of beneficial programs to girls, including their recent All-Girls Football Tournament, peer education training, life skills, pad distribution, and general counseling services.
Due to circumstances beyond their control, Generation Guiders recently lost their space, which served as the hub for all of their program services. Land has very generously been offered to serve as home to the new center, but there is no sound structure. PaperSeed has approved a proposal to build an innovative new center that will benefit girls in Generation Guiders' programs and be open for use to the community at large, providing lasting benefits for thousands.
Girls' Health and Dignity
Underprivileged girls in Kenya miss up to 56 days of schools per year due to their menstrual cycles (UNICEF 2005) as they do not have access to necessary undergarments and sanitary napkins. In addition to missing important days of classroom instruction and potentially dropping out of school because they fall behind in their studies, their health, confidence and dignity is compromised every month.
PaperSeed is working with business partners and local organizations to keep girls in school. With the generous below-market price of sanitary napkins from Mega Soft, free shipping from Fr. Meyer’s Sohn and customs assistance from East Africa Packaging Industries, we are able to keep project costs low. Local community-based organizations ZanaAfrica, PolyCom and The Kilgoris Project ensure that the distribution of sanitary napkins and reproductive health/life skills education reaches high-risk girls of the informal settlement (slum) of Kibera in Nairobi and Kilgoris, Kenya.
We are very excited for the opportunity to continue this initiative with the support of our partners in 2017.
ONE STOP YOUTH RESOURCE CENTER
For young people with limited opportunities, the ability to lead a meaningful and productive adult life can feel unattainable. In the community of Mariakani, PaperSeed is partnering with Muthaa Community Development Foundation to provide life skills education, a safe space for guidance, information on sexual and reproductive health, business development skills and business incubator support, and computer skills during 2015.