Preventing Violence Against Women

The past few week(s) we have witnessed unprovoked attacks on women all over the country by men; some of which have resulted in the deaths of these women. Violence against women and girls is rooted in gender-based discrimination and social norms and gender stereotypes that perpetuate such violence. Given the devastating effect violence has on women, efforts have mainly focused on responses and services for survivors. However, the best way to end violence against women and girls is to prevent it from happening in the first place by addressing its root and structural causes.

Preventing the ultimate form of violence against women – femicide – requires knowledge of the broader contextual and underlying causes of female victimization (e.g., gender inequality, power imbalances, misogynistic attitudes, patriarchal social structures, and structural/systemic discrimination).

More generally, the prevention of femicide, and violence against women and girls, faces other practical challenges, particularly at the national level, including a lack of systemic evidence on what works in terms of prevention, services, legal responses, and early and long-term intervention. While there is a growing body of literature on what works, the lack of recognition about the importance of systematically monitoring the processes and outcomes of implementation and the ongoing impact of a variety of initiatives hinders a fulsome understanding of prevention efforts.

Taking a public health approach to addressing violence against women and girls has a general mandate for prevention. To prevent a phenomenon as complex as violence against women and girls, including femicide, involves a four-step process:
1. Defining the scope of the problem.
2. Identifying the risk factors associated with violent victimization/perpetration.
3. Evaluating potential prevention tactics based on the above information. 4. Sharing the knowledge widely.

The public health approach utilizes the ecological framework to further the understanding of the risk of violent victimization faced by women and girls. This framework was developed with the knowledge that no single factor accounts for risk but rather that the interaction among many factors at four levels – individual, relationship, community and societal – contributes to the outcome of violence and, ultimately, femicide. Brief descriptions of the four levels are provided here and expanded upon below:

Individual-level factors include personal history and biological factors (e.g. experiencing childhood maltreatment, alcohol or substance abuse histories).
Relationship-level factors include family, friends, intimate partners, and peers who may increase or protect against risk of violence.
Community-level factors refers to those contexts in which social interactions occur (e.g. schools, workplaces, homes).
Societal-level factors refer to social and cultural norms that may influence acceptance or rejection of violence as well as social structures, and institutional policies and practices that produce harmful or preventive outcomes in relation to violence.

Multiple risk factors have been identified at the societal, community, relationship, and individual level – each of which carries specific preventative measures.

Striving to End Hunger, Now and in the Future

The latest news reports show that famine is being experienced in 12 counties across Kenya with the worst hit being Turkana county where around 805,000 people out of 1.2 million are faced with starvation.

When people are hungry and malnourished, they are less able to improve their livelihoods; adequately care for their families; live full and healthy lives and lift themselves out of poverty. Children are especially vulnerable—malnutrition in the first two years of life can result in physical and cognitive damage that diminishes future health, welfare and economic well-being.

This presents a drain on development with effects that can last for generations. Hunger impairs a person’s ability to be part of a productive workforce, and contribute to economic growth. In the short term, food shortages and rising food prices can widen inequality, and lead to conflict and instability.

It is time to rethink how we grow, share and consume our food. If done right, agriculture, forestry and fisheries can provide nutritious food for all and generate decent incomes, while supporting people-centered rural development and protecting the environment; bearing in mind that zero hunger is one of the UN’s sustainable development goals (SDGs).

So what can we do to end hunger now and in the future?

Counties and communities should sustainably manage landscapes such as farms, forests, watersheds and fisheries so that they are more productive.

County governments and financial institutions should empower farmers by providing crop insurance, expanding access to financial services and improving access to resources for women and the youth.

But food security is not just a question of increased productivity. Up to 1/3 of all food produced is wasted—mainly during production, storage and transport. To reduce food waste, county governments should implement modern food storage and distribution systems, as well as improve the agro-supply chains. The issue of food crises and price volatility – which makes food unaffordable for the poor – should be addressed by county governments contributing to tools that improve agricultural market transparency.

Food insecurity should be approached with a holistic approach – using expertise in agriculture, sustainable management, logistics, irrigation, and research and analysis to implement integrated solutions.

Youth Engagement in Wildlife Conservation

As the world prepares to observe the World Wildlife Day on Sunday, 3rd March 2019, Kenya must strive to create a conducive environment to engage and empower the youths to be proactive to save, protect and conserve the continent’s rich wildlife resource base which is under threat of extinction.

The reason we need to widen conservation projects to include the young generation is because of the absence of a strong African voice on global wildlife conservation front. We need to engage the youth more because they are a key point of influence for other segments of society. The Alfred Polo Foundation does this through ethical leadership, mentoring and coaching to enable them to take interest in preserving Kenya’s wildlife resources.

Through youth engagement, the continent could harness creativity, enthusiasm and drive for any actions to address threats to the continent’s wildlife resources. The issue of wildlife management and improvement should be a major concern to young people as they ought to play active roles in programmes and activities which aim to curb poaching, illegal trade in animal products and trafficking.

Some environmental analysts say governments must seek to supplement state level processes by deepening participation through the creation of an environment that places the youth at the centre of protection and conservation of wildlife. If we don’t involve the youth, they may engage in all sorts of activities that may exacerbate poaching.

We need to empower the youth to understand the gravity of the poaching crisis facing African wildlife. We need to involve them so that they can understand how poaching, unsustainable hunting practices and illegal trade in animal products affects tourism earnings, community livelihoods and how this robs future generations of their wildlife heritage.

Non-involvement of the youth will lead to exploitation of wildlife resources at a rapid and unsustainable rate that future inheritors of Kenya will have very little, if none of the wildlife resources current generations have access to.

African Youth Ready for a Digital Future; But Leaders are Lagging Behind

If Africa’s leaders do not act quickly to move the continent into the 21st century, young people will leave them behind, South Africa’s President Cyril M. Ramaphosa said at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting. Young people are ready for the digital era and are engaged in technology, but governments are not keeping up. They have not “fully embraced this new bright and brave world that young people live in today,” he said.

“Africa now has this great opportunity, having lost out on previous revolutions, to leapfrog,” said Ramaphosa. The speed at which mobile phones have been adopted across the continent over the past decade highlights the willingness of Africans to adopt new technology. “It shows that we have the skills and the capabilities to do this and we should now have the courage to embrace technology in the fullest way.”

Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda, said that it is imperative that all African countries make investments in human capital to bring them into the 21st century. This requires a holistic programme of interventions and investment.

Kagame chairs the Smart Africa initiative, which aims to put ICT at the centre of the continent’s national socio-economic development agenda, improve access of Africans to technology and use ICT to promote sustainable development. Internet connectivity in Africa is just 22%, which shows the opportunity that technology offers the continent to move into the digital age.

Smart Africa is the result of the realization among Africans that their future is, or should be, a digital one, said Kagame. The initiative aims to get political leaders to align their efforts and policies with this goal, he said. There is already a mindset change in governments about the importance of technology as they seek to address the needs of growing numbers of young people.

The World Economic Forum Annual Meeting brings together more than 3,000 global leaders from politics, government, civil society, academia, the arts and culture as well as the media.

This excerpt has been borrowed from The World Economic Forum website. Learn more here:

Keeping Up With Your New Year Resolutions

The start of a new year is the perfect time to turn a new page, which is probably why so many people create New Year’s Resolutions. A new year often feels like a fresh start, a great opportunity to eliminate bad habits and establish new routines that will help you grow psychologically, emotionally, socially, physically, or intellectually. Of course, resolutions are much easier to make than to keep and by the end of January many of us have abandoned our resolve and settled back into our old patterns.

So what can you do to make it more likely that you will stick to your resolution(s)?

  1. Pinpoint your “why.” – Pinpoint a solid reason why you made that resolution, and if you can’t then you probably shouldn’t have made it.
  2. Stick to one resolution – If you’re concerned about sticking to your resolutions, make it easier on yourself by only making one main goal for the year. Consider one resolution that would make the greatest impact on your life, family, education and/or career.
  3. Break it down and make a plan – To help make your ambitious, grand resolutions more manageable, break down your goal into steps. Resolve to do the first step or maybe two. Give yourself a to-do list of tasks that will help you stick with your resolution.
  4. Visualize your success – Simply making a resolution isn’t enough; You have to believe that you’re going to stick to it and accomplish your goal. Visualization can help you do that.
  5. Create a support network – Whatever your resolution, it’ll be easier to stick to if you have a teammate to go along with you, or a supportive friend or family member willing to keep tabs on your progress.
  6. Don’t give up when things go awry – Plan for relapses. Between starting and solidifying a habit, there are lapses. This is okay, normal, and expected. This is especially true if you’re trying to make a really major change in your life.

Creating Opportunities for Disabled Youth

On Monday, 3rd Dec 2018, the world observed the annual World Disability Day with the theme being “Empowering persons with disabilities and ensuring inclusiveness and equality”. It is critical to ensure, in this regard, the full and equal participation of persons with disabilities in all spheres of society and create enabling environments by, for and with persons with disabilities. This also means the inclusion of disabled youth in all youth programs and activities.

Youth with disabilities are amongst the most marginalized and poorest of all the world’s youth. They commonly face more discrimination and severe social, economic, and civic disparities as compared with those without disabilities, especially in developing countries. Yet, youth programs seldom address issues of youth with disabilities, much less include them into activities.

Key facts about youth with disabilities:

  • The World Report on Disability estimates that 220 million youth with disabilities in the world today are marginalized and largely invisible in society, especially in education and the labor market; nearly 80% live in developing countries.
  • UNESCO estimates that 98% of children with disabilities in developing countries do not attend school and 99% of girls with disabilities are illiterate.
  • A disproportionate number of youth with disabilities will find themselves on the street, with one estimate suggesting that 30% of street youth have a disability.

When youth with disabilities can fully participate alongside peers without disabilities, they have an opportunity to gain skills and experiences, demonstrate their capabilities and change attitudes.  Inclusive youth programming benefits not only youth with disabilities, but will ensure that all youth can contribute fully to their country’s development and economic growth.

The following essential strategies can be used to ensure inclusiveness:

  1. Provide mentorship for youth with disabilities. Mentors and role models can break down preconceived notions for what is possible, challenge stereotypes and change community perceptions. There are many adults and youth with disabilities who can serve as mentors and role models. They are leading change as social entrepreneurs, citizen diplomats and community activists.  Non-disabled adults can also be powerful mentors for youth with disabilities.
  2. Use the Internet, social media, software adaptations and other technological innovations to create opportunities for youth with disabilities to break down barriers and increase their sense of belonging and interaction with their peers.
  3. Empower youth with disabilities through sport and recreation programs. Remember to use the twin-track approach. You can offer disability-specific adapted programs, as well as sport and recreation programs for youth with and without disabilities.
  4. Recruit youth with disabilities as volunteers. Youth with disabilities should have opportunities to contribute their skills and gain valuable work experience.
  5. Collaborate with families of youth with disabilities to conduct successful outreach strategies, and to educate them about the importance of youth with disabilities’ participation.
  6. Ask for input from youth with disabilities in the planning of both inclusive and disability-focused programs.

Sanitation as a Human Right

Did you realise that through your last trip to the toilet, you were actually exercising one of your fundamental human rights?

Consider how different your day would have been today had you not had access to a toilet at home, at school, or at work. Globally, 2.3 billion people still do not have access to basic sanitation facilities (World Health Organisation, 2017). The WHO also attributes that about 13% of Kenyans do not have toilets, and go to the bush for calls of nature. As a result, about 23,000 Kenyans die every year as a result of poor sanitation and hygiene (World Bank Water and Sanitation Program Report, 2012).

Not only is access to safe sanitation integral to the right to health and a clean environment, it also evokes the concept of human dignity through the ability to manage one’s bodily functions. Human dignity is fundamental to the right to life.

The human right to sanitation entitles everyone, without discrimination, to: “have physical and affordable access to sanitation, in all spheres of life, that is safe, hygienic, secure, and social and culturally acceptable, and that provides privacy and dignity” (UN, 2015).

The human right to sanitation is not fulfilled by the presence of a toilet of any kind, in any condition. It delineates a five-pillar criteria that sanitation services must meet in order to satisfy the right to sanitation. They must be:

  1. Available (near to households, schools, workplaces, health centres etc.)
  2. Accessible (to all, without discrimination)
  3. Affordable (should not exceed 5% of households’ incomes)
  4. Safe (free from heath hazards, and in locations that are safe for all users, e.g. where women feel safe from harassment and violence)
  5. Acceptable (culturally and socially, and must protect peoples’ privacy and dignity)

The right to sanitation is therefore highly intertwined with many other universal human rights and is essential to an adequate standard of living. In fact, in many cases, sanitation provides the foundations upon which access to other human rights can be built:

  • Lack of sanitation obstructs the right to life and health. Human excreta encourages the transmission of many infectious diseases including cholera, typhoid, hepatitis, polio. Diarrhoea – a disease directly related to poor sanitation – kills 3100 Kenyan children every year.
  • Lack of sanitation hampers the right to education. 5 million school days are lost every year due to sanitation and water related issues. Inadequate school sanitation facilities are a common barrier to school attendance, especially for girls.
  • Lack of sanitation thwarts the right to dignity. Sick and elderly people face a loss of dignity when sanitation facilities are not available in the near vicinity.

World Toilet Day, celebrated on 19th November, is about taking action to ensure that everyone has a safe toilet by 2030. This is part of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6: sanitation and water. Although the moniker “World Toilet Day” might sound peculiar, or laughable – or even cringe inducing – the statistics mentioned here are dire.

Ensuring access to sanitation is imperative for health, education and dignity. It is a fundamental right that must be promoted.

Implementation of an Entrepreneurial Mindset

In our two previous blogs, we talked about, ‘How Youth Entrepreneurship can Tackle Unemployment’ and  ‘Teaching Entrepreneurship in Schools’. In this third and final blog of the series, we are going to look at implementing an entrepreneurial mindset. This is possibly the most crucial aspect of being an entrepreneur: taking action.

An entrepreneurial mindset requires: 1. ‘Thinking’ and 2. ‘Taking Action’. You will be hit with mistakes, failures and set backs, but your mindset has to be prepared to bounce back and make sure that next time you achieve what you want.

To create the entrepreneurial mindset, surround yourself with and indulge in whatever it is you’re passionate about. Watch YouTube videos, TV programmes, read as much as you can on your passion and – in my opinion the most important task of all – network.

Networking takes some getting used to. You need to build up both an online and offline networking system. Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and other social media sites are a perfect platform for creating contacts around the world, if you use them efficiently. If networking online, constantly think about what you say because you are your own brand. It is crucial you know who you are and what you stand for in order to effectively create an online personal brand.

Networking in “real life” or “in person” is just as effective, if not more effective. Research what’s going on in your area, go and meet people. It’s scary at first, but lots of other people are doing exactly the same thing, and you will benefit from it, not just in terms of contacts, but in personal development, too. You’ll build up communication skills and confidence in no time.

Networking effectively can get you places you never thought possible. An old business adage goes like, “You’re never more than 7 people away from the most powerful people on the planet.” If you meet someone, who knows someone, who knows someone else, before you know it, you could be talking to a big decision maker.

So get out there and network!

We hope you have enjoyed my series of short blogs on entrepreneurship. If you have any questions or would like to talk with me more about ‘Tackling Youth Unemployment through Entrepreneurship’, then please feel free to contact us through our website or social media platforms.

Teaching Entrepreneurship in Schools

Entrepreneurship is not your average subject. You don’t learn about or go about teaching entrepreneurship alone like you would with most subjects. You have to experience it hands on.

It is a subject that can develop your outlook and your personal character, not just in business, but in everyday life, too. If we could recommend one thing to the Kenyan government today, it would be to make it compulsory that all children experience entrepreneurship from a young age at school. We should not be bringing up generations of students that go to school, expecting to go to university and then getting a job. There is so much more out there than that set pattern we have fallen into. The daily news portrays doom and gloom, but it truly is a land of opportunity for those that are only willing to look further, think different and work harder.

We need to be telling, showing and teaching students about self-employment, apprenticeships, internships, entrepreneurship, social enterprises, volunteering and how to brand themselves in a unique way for the job market. No matter what the subject, it’s possible to integrate entrepreneurship and business.

Teaching entrepreneurship provides the skills and development to live a confident life with the unwavering courage to make things happen and change how people live. Skills like communication, networking, pitching, leadership, negotiation and teamwork are learned through entrepreneurship. Just imagine how much improvement and progress we could make in the world if entrepreneurship education were provided at a much younger age.

This is the second in a series of three blogs on Entrepreneurship as a way to tackle youth unemployment. The third and final blog is on Implementing the Entrepreneurial Mindset.

How Youth Entrepreneurship Can Tackle Unemployment

One of the most popular topics on Alfred Polo Foundation and one of the most popular topics among youth in general, entrepreneurship is at the height of its popularity.

Within this topic of entrepreneurship, the term social entrepreneurship is simply flourishing. It is being talked about over and over again, and young people from all over the world are actually becoming social entrepreneurs – they are starting their businesses as incentives for social and economic change. Aside from chasing a profit to stay afloat, they are trying to solve different social issues within their communities whether they be health, nutrition, education or something else. By dwelling into these areas, the young entrepreneurs are boosting their area’s economy and even fostering development of some new industries, especially in the rural areas.

Starting a business increases competition in the market, creates jobs and promotes sustainable growth in the greater economy – all of which are key to tackling youth unemployment. After all, every job was created by a person or group of people who started off with little more than a good idea and the conviction to make it happen.

You can start off creating a job for yourself, but ideally, whatever enterprise you start will grow and provide jobs for others. Entrepreneurship is the seed that grows jobs. The global downturn has been like a mass deforestation, destroying thousands of businesses around the world; we need to act and plant the seeds again, so in the future young people have a prosperous world of opportunity with jobs for all.

Anyone can become an entrepreneur, as long as you work to get the knowledge you need for whatever field of business, social enterprise or charity you want to go into. Aspiring entrepreneurs often encounter financial risks and difficulties in accessing capital, as banks can be hesitant to lend to young people, who often are viewed as inexperienced. Though programmes that provide capital to start-ups are a solution, work on becoming an expert in your field first. Surround yourself with like-minded people. Network. Build contacts. It has never been easier to reach out to people, anywhere in the world.

This is the first in a series of three blogs on how youth entrepreneurship can be used to tackle unemployment. The second and third blogs will have more practical advice on what you can do to make yourself stand out and how to go about starting a business from scratch by implementing an entrepreneurial mindset.