Shortlisted to the final three out of seventeen, the three projects were invited to present at the SIGBI conference in Glasgow. A vote followed and the Meru Women’s Garden Project was selected as the SIGBI Federation Project for 2016-2019.

A collaboration between, Soroptimist International of Great Britain and Ireland and the women of Meru, the Project will run for three years, with SIGBI Clubs joining forces to raise funds in support of some the poorest women-led households in Kenya.

Patricia Gatherum, SIGBI Federation Project Liaison explains: “SIGBI members were looking for a Federation project that ticked the Educate, Enable and Empower boxes. The Meru Women’s Garden Project does just that and more. It will leave a Legacy by creating change that lasts. The project will Educate women to produce food efficiently; enable them to generate their own income; and Empower them by giving them a voice in their own community.”

Image Courtesy of

Martina Gant, International Programme Manager, says: “In a community where women are commonly undervalued, dis-empowered and unsupported, we’re challenging perceptions within the whole community through education and empowerment. Through our partnership with SIGBI, we’re developing a team in Meru to drive real change in people’s potential by investing in skill development. We’re providing women with skills and training they need to support themselves; empowering girls to stand up for their rights through education. We’re working with whole communities to promote shared understanding. Our thanks to SIGBI for enabling this programme to develop and impact on wider communities”.

With a population of 136,000, the Meru District is in Tigania East. 90% of the population live in rural areas, with HIV/AIDs prevalent in the region. Entirely focused on providing opportunities to women and girls who may never otherwise be given the chance to earn an income, the Project seeks to give them status within their community, and fully embraces the three key areas at the heart of SIGBI’s Programme Focus Goals – Educate, Empower and Enable. Improved food production and education will support women and girls to transform their own lives and the lives of others, through a process of cascade learning and mentoring, inevitably reducing poverty, improving health and increasing rates of employment.

The Meru Women’s Garden Project will be run on the ground by Community Initiative for Rural Development (CIFORD), and overseen by CIFORD is inspirationally led by Margaret Ikiara, a member of SI Meru. With 27 years of experience in husbandry, agricultural economics, teaching and community development, Margaret is dedicated to improving the lives of women in her home region of Meru.

Educating women and increasing skills regarding efficient, organic methods for food production is the aim of the project. In order to raise the standard of living above the poverty line, reducing extreme hunger, women will be given the tools to become self-sufficient through sustainable gardens at home.

The transformational project will focus on increasing girls’ attendance and achievement in secondary school. By creating breakfast clubs and sustainable food gardens, the girls will not go hungry and will therefore be better able to learn. Empowering through education, engaging women and girls with leadership skills to take on training and mentoring roles will help them find a voice within their community, gain the respect of elders and others, achieving equal representation, and be in a position to take on more prominent roles.

Image Courtesy of

By enabling women as heads of household to create their own employment through growing and selling their crops, or as tutors and mentors, it is hoped that the project will significantly reduce extreme poverty by enabling and promoting income generating activities. Patricia concludes: “The project will be overseen on site by the Meru Soroptimists in partnership with the charity, who will work ceaselessly to fulfil its objectives. Together we are transforming the prospects of women and girls in the Meru community”.

For further information and updates please visit SIGBI website
Meru Garden Project


Local To Global 2016

Local to Global

Download our PDF for further information on projects from around the world.

SI Federations


Subscribe to receive the Soroptimist International Newsletter by email.