10 December is traditionally the day Soroptimists join together in support of the SI President’s Appeal; a tradition established by SI President Catharine Salt in 1981. This year has proved a challenging time for all, and as we attempt to make plans for 2021, one thing is evident, and that is that our work providing safety, justice, and opportunity for women and girls around the world, is as important as it ever was.
Since 2019, and throughout these testing times, the Road to Equality President’s Appeal has built and maintained partnerships; working with the Global Media Campaign to End Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and the Free A Girl Movement, on the ‘Voice of Justice’ campaign. Recent months have seen the launch of the highly popular SI Voices series of webinars, where over 2,000 people have registered to hear the thoughts and experiences of expert panellists, together with inspiring stories, which has increased awareness of the Appeal’s six key themes: FGM, Human Trafficking, Rights for Older Persons, Migration, Domestic Violence, and Child Marriage.
For 10 December 2020, we are delighted to announce a superb new Road to Equality Appeal project, supporting the Lugari Youth Leadership and Mentoring Training Camp, in the Lugari District of Kakamega County in Western Kenya.
The Appeal is gathering donations and plans to support the Youth Leadership and Mentoring Training held at the Lugari Community Resource Centre, led by Khayanga Wasike, CEO and President of the Willing Hearts International Society Canada. The annual event for girls aged 14-18, offers leadership skills, empowering young women to become catalysts of positive change within their communities. Strong voices standing against harmful gender discriminatory practices, the training programme affords girls with the knowledge and education on FGM, child marriage, and domestic violence, key themes of the Road to Equality Appeal.
The Leadership programme was set to celebrate its 10th anniversary in 2020, however, the restraints and social distancing requirements demanded during the pandemic, meant the girls were unable to come and stay for the eight-day camp together in the dormitories, however, it is hoped that the next camp will take place in 2021.
The Appeal is planning to help realise this goal, and is looking to support 200-250 girls to attend the empowering programme of workshops and activities, that encourage economic independence and stability, women’s participation, leadership, skills training, and business ownership.
Many of the programmes focus on health, youth leadership, sustainable agricultural use, rural micro-enterprise, employment and career development, whilst supporting sustainable community water solutions, together with many other educational programmes; all aimed at progressing the skills and confidence of the girls involved.
Ayushi Kundu, Appeal Coordinator explains: “The Road to Equality has already awarded $10,000 USD towards vital building work at the community centre, to help house the girls during their time at the Camp in response to the restrictions and measures introduced during COVID-19. Going forward, these adaptations and renovations to the centre we are funding will have longevity; a long-term investment, creating a more hospitable environment for the training of all future girls. Further to this we now plan to raise $105 (£80) for each girl attending the Camp, through the generosity of Soroptimist donations. This will cover the costs of meals, transportation, and training materials, for at least 200 girls enrolling in the Leadership Programme in 2021.”
Cathy Coyte has written a brilliant article sharing her reflections from the 2019 Lugari Youth Leadership and Mentoring Training Camp – Read it HERE
*Below: Watch a video of Khayanga Wasike, CEO and President of the Willing Hearts International Society Canada sharing the aims of the Lugari Resource Centre.
“My name is Khayanga Wasike the CEO/President of Willing Hearts International, Canada. An organisation that focusses on stimulating growth and social transformation for girls, women and society as a whole. Growing up, in a rural setting with very limited resources,I experienced many challenges. I was a victim of early marriage, limited access to education, domestic violence, hunger and an abusive parent.
My life changed when I was rescued by missionaries who took me away to a residential school and catered for my basics making me who I am today. Those who never got the chance like me were married off very young, molested, abused, trafficked and even forced to undergo FGM. To date, this unending cycle is yet to break. I purposed to be part of the change that I’ve always wished to see by founding Girls Leadership Academy which gives women and girls the chance to better their lives through training and mentorship in life-skill.
During the camp, the participants are trained on good governance, fostering life engagements, financial literacy, entrepreneurship and female health which they are tasked to share with their peers upon their return to their schools and community. As Koffi Annan said “ When women thrive, all of society benefits” I believe, our society is on the path to realising these benefits.
Thank you once again for your continued faith in our vision and mission. ”
Please donate to the President’s Appeal through your own Federation’s Donate pages. Or visit this page to find the links! https://www.soroptimistinternational.org/donate/
Lead Image Micro-Enterprise Training