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The Plight of Girls in Kenya: Overcoming Challenges for a Brighter Future.

The Plight of Girls in Kenya: Overcoming Challenges for a Brighter Future.

The situation of little girls in Kenya is a complex issue that requires a multifaceted approach. Poverty, lack of access to education, and cultural norms that perpetuate gender inequality are some of the challenges faced by little girls in Kenya. These challenges have far-reaching effects on the physical, emotional, and psychological well-being of girls in Kenya. For example, child marriage, lack of access to education, and sexual exploitation and abuse can limit a girl's future prospects and perpetuate the cycle of poverty.

Statistics show that less than 20% of girls aged 15-19 in Kenya complete secondary education, and even fewer go on to further education. In regions that experience high poverty rates and low levels of gender equality, as little as 19% of the girls in the region are enrolled in local primary schools. In others, as few as one in 15 girls are enrolled in primary school. These statistics highlight the need for continued efforts to address the barriers to education for girls in Kenya.

Organizations such as Coachability Foundation are working to provide support and resources to girls and families in need. By providing access to education and resources, we can help to empower girls and create a brighter future for them. However, more needs to be done to address the root causes of poverty, lack of access to education, and cultural norms that perpetuate gender inequality. Addressing these issues is critically important for social and economic growth within these regions.

The effects of not having a childhood in little girls in Kenya are far-reaching and can impact their physical, emotional, and psychological well-being. Child marriage, lack of access to education, and sexual exploitation and abuse can limit a girl's future prospects and perpetuate the cycle of poverty. Girls who are victims of sexual exploitation and abuse may experience emotional trauma and long-lasting effects on their mental health.

Education can play a critical role in addressing these issues. By providing access to quality education, girls can gain the skills and knowledge they need to break the cycle of poverty and achieve their full potential. Education can also help to prevent sexual exploitation and abuse by empowering girls to recognize and report abuse. Many organizations are working to provide support and resources to girls and families in need. However, more needs to be done to address the root causes of poverty, sexual exploitation and abuse, and lack of access to education.

The situation of little girls in Kenya requires continued efforts to address the barriers to education and the harmful practices that impact their well-being. By addressing the root causes of poverty, lack of access to education, and cultural norms that perpetuate gender inequality, we can help to empower girls and create a brighter future for them.


Introduction

Throughout this discussion, we have delved into the myriad challenges faced by young girls in Kenya. These adversities encompass poverty, limited access to education, and deeply ingrained cultural norms that perpetuate gender inequality. The consequences of these difficulties extend far beyond the immediate physical realm, seeping into the emotional and psychological well-being of Kenya's girls. One glaring example is child marriage, especially prevalent in Northern Kenya, which compels girls to abandon their education and embrace adult responsibilities at an early age, thus limiting their future prospects and perpetuating the vicious cycle of poverty. Additionally, restricted access to education can hinder the emotional and psychological development of girls and curtail their ability to reach their full potential. Furthermore, girls who suffer sexual exploitation and abuse often endure emotional trauma, leaving enduring scars on their mental health.


Education and Its Barriers

Statistics underscore the grim educational reality for girls in Kenya. Less than 20% of girls aged 15-19 in Kenya complete secondary education, with even fewer progressing to further education[1][2]. This situation is exacerbated in regions grappling with high poverty rates and gender inequality, where enrollment rates plummet. In some areas, as few as one in 15 girls are enrolled in primary school[1][6]. These statistics underscore the pressing need for concerted efforts to eliminate barriers to education for Kenyan girls.

Prominent organizations, including UN Women, UNICEF, and Save the Children, tirelessly provide support and resources to girls and their families. By facilitating access to education and resources, they empower girls, ultimately paving the way for a brighter future. However, addressing the root causes of poverty, lack of educational access, and cultural norms perpetuating gender inequality remains paramount. This entails not only expanding access to education and resources but also dismantling the systemic issues that hinder progress, encompassing healthcare, basic needs, and support systems for families[7][8][9].


When You're a Little Girl in Kenya

Girls in Kenya grapple with an array of challenges that impact their well-being and future opportunities. Notably, poverty, sexual exploitation and abuse, and limited access to education loom large in their lives[2]. Here are some pertinent facts and figures:


  • Poverty: Over a third of Kenya's population lives on less than $1.90 USD per day, with girls living in poverty more likely to miss school due to resource constraints[1][3].

  • Sexual Exploitation and Abuse: The peril of sexual exploitation is widespread, encompassing issues like cybercrime against women, stalking, sexual harassment, and sex trafficking[2]. Prolonged drought has exacerbated the risk of gender-based violence, female genital mutilation, and child marriage[3].

  • Street Girls: Kenya is home to an estimated 250,000 children living on the streets, rendering them susceptible to violence, exploitation, and abuse[4].


These problems are deeply rooted in the complex and multifaceted issues of poverty, education inaccessibility, and cultural norms propagating gender inequality. The repercussions are profound, manifesting as physical, emotional, and psychological burdens on these young girls.



Credit by Annie Spratt @anniespratt



The Cultural Norms Perpetuating Gender Inequality

  • In Kenya, deeply rooted cultural norms sustain gender inequality through various practices:

  • Child Marriage: Widespread child marriages in Northern Kenya see at least 23% of Kenyan girls wed before turning 18, with harmful traditions like female genital mutilation and "beading" exacerbating this issue.

  • Workplace Discrimination: Discrimination within workplaces is pervasive, with women often encountering bias and harassment. Employers' reluctance to hire married women, often tied to maternity leave concerns, worsens this problem.

  • Domestic Responsibilities: These cultural norms dictate that girls must assume domestic roles, including cooking and cleaning, restricting their access to education and future job opportunities.


These entrenched cultural norms act as significant barriers to gender equality in Kenya. To empower girls and pave the way for a brighter future, it is imperative to challenge and reshape these norms while providing increased access to education and resources[10][11].


Statistics on Sexual Exploitation and Abuse of Girls in Kenya

Sexual exploitation and abuse of girls in Kenya is a grave concern. Key statistics shed light on the issue:

  • A study in Kenya's 10 districts reported that 58 out of every 100 children have been sexually harassed, with 29% of boys and 24% of girls reporting forced unwanted sexual encounters.

  • The number of reported crimes of a sexual nature and instances of mass sexual violence within schools highlights the pervasive threat to sexual safety.

  • A 2014 study by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics found that 21% of women in Kenya experienced sexual violence, with one in three being unable to access justice[12].


Significantly, online child sexual exploitation and abuse (OCSEA) affects both boys and girls in Kenya. Perpetrators of such exploitation are typically individuals known to the child. However, the reporting of online sexual exploitation and abuse (OSEA) remains challenging, making it difficult to gauge the full extent of these occurrences. Organizations like UN Women, UNICEF, and Equality Now endeavor to provide support and resources to girls and their families, yet addressing the root causes of sexual exploitation and abuse, including deep-seated cultural norms, is critical to protect Kenya's girls effectively.


The Impact of the Challenges

The consequences of these challenges are broad and deeply felt, impacting the physical, emotional, and psychological well-being of girls in Kenya. Child marriage forces young girls to take on adult responsibilities prematurely, effectively ending their educational pursuits and limiting their future prospects. The lack of access to education and employment opportunities also breeds feelings of hopelessness and low self-esteem among girls, affecting their psychological well-being. Additionally, girls who are subjected to sexual exploitation and abuse often bear emotional trauma and long-lasting mental health effects. As they are forced to face adult challenges without proper support, these girls experience health issues related to early pregnancy and childbirth, further compromising their physical well-being.

It is crucial to continuously raise awareness of the difficulties faced by girls in Kenya and work towards providing the necessary resources and support to unlock their full potential. By addressing the root causes of poverty, educational barriers, and cultural norms that perpetuate gender inequality, we can collectively create a brighter future for girls in Kenya.


The Effects of Losing Childhood

The absence of a carefree childhood has profound implications for little girls in Kenya:


  • Child Marriage: Child marriages prematurely burden girls with adult responsibilities, truncating their education and limiting their future.

  • Emotional and Psychological Trauma: Victims of sexual exploitation and abuse often grapple with emotional trauma and long-lasting psychological scars.

  • Health Issues: Forced into early adulthood, these girls may face health problems related to early pregnancies and inadequate access to healthcare, impacting their physical well-being.


These effects underscore the urgency of efforts to address the obstacles to education and the harmful practices that erode the well-being of girls in Kenya.

The challenges faced by little girls in Kenya are multifaceted and deeply ingrained. However, by understanding these challenges and collectively addressing their root causes, we can work towards a brighter, more equitable future for the girls of Kenya. It is imperative to continue raising awareness and offering support and resources to empower these girls to overcome adversity and reach their full potential.

One of the primary objectives of the ASA (After school Projects )in Kisumu, initiated by the Coachability Foundation (www.coachabilityfoundation.org), is to ensure that girls in Kisumu, Kenya, have the opportunity to experience a dignified childhood. These projects are dedicated to empowering young girls by providing them with a safe and nurturing environment to explore their artistic and athletic interests after school. By engaging in creative arts and sports activities, these girls not only learn valuable life skills but also regain their right to a joyful and fulfilling childhood


After School Activities Program by Coachability Foundation


Furthermore, these projects aim to instill the importance of mutual respect and equality in both girls and boys. By fostering an environment where boys respect and support girls, they contribute to creating a more equitable society. Through SAS the Coachability Foundation is committed to breaking down gender barriers, fostering respect, and promoting gender equality, thus paving the way for a future where both girls and boys can thrive and coexist in harmony, ultimately creating a more equal and just society.


In conclusion, the plight of little girls in Kenya is a multi-faceted challenge that demands a comprehensive and sustained effort. The combination of poverty, limited access to education, and deeply entrenched gender inequality perpetuated by cultural norms has far-reaching consequences on the well-being of these young girls. Child marriage, lack of educational opportunities, and sexual exploitation and abuse curtail their future prospects and perpetuate the cycle of poverty. These grim statistics underscore the urgent need to address educational barriers and the harmful practices that hinder girls' progress.

Many organizations are working tirelessly to provide support and resources to these girls and their families. While these efforts are commendable, it is crucial to recognize that the root causes of poverty, sexual exploitation and abuse, and limited educational access must also be addressed comprehensively. This includes initiatives related to healthcare, basic needs, and dismantling cultural norms that perpetuate gender inequality. The effects of these challenges extend beyond the physical realm and seep into the emotional and psychological well-being of these girls, affecting their health and self-esteem.

Education is a powerful tool to address these issues. It offers girls the skills and knowledge needed and to recognize and report instances of sexual exploitation and abuse. By expanding access to quality education, organizations can empower girls to reach their full potential.

The situation in Kenya requires continued and collective efforts to break down the barriers to education and tackle the harmful practices that hinder the well-being of girls. Addressing the root causes of these challenges is pivotal for the social and economic growth of these regions. By understanding and confronting these issues, we can work toward a brighter and more equitable future for the girls of Kenya. It is imperative that we continue to raise awareness, offer support, and provide the necessary resources to empower these girls, enabling them to overcome adversity and reach their full potential. Only through these collective efforts can we hope to create a brighter future for the girls of Kenya.





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Tikkie


Co-founder and director at www.coachabilityfoudation.org


Keywords:


  • Girls in Kenya

  • Plight of girls

  • Challenges

  • Gender inequality

  • Child marriage

  • Access to education

  • Poverty

  • Sexual exploitation and abuse

  • Emotional and psychological well-being

  • Education barriers

  • Cultural norms

  • Support and resources

  • Dignified childhood

  • Empowerment

  • Mutual respect

  • Equal society


Hashtags:



Citations and references.


ACDI/VOCA. (2020). Girls in Northern Kenya Overcome Adversity to Return to School. Retrieved from https://www.acdivoca.org/2020/10/girls-in-northern-kenya-overcome-adversity-to-return-to-school/


Abuya, T., Njuki, R., Warren, C. E., Okal, J., Obare, F., Kanya, L., ... & Askew, I. (2013). A policy analysis of the implementation of a Reproductive Health Vouchers Program in Kenya. BMC public health, 13(1), 1-12.


Bledsoe, C., Hill, A. G., & Geisler, G. (2006). Reproductive mishaps and western contraception: An African challenge to fertility theory. Population and Development Review, 32(1), 17-42.

Darabigdata Darabigdata. (n.d.). Girls' Education in Kenya. Retrieved from https://www.darabigdata.com/girlseducation-kenya


Global Partnership Global Partnership for Education. (2018). Putting Girls' Education First in Kenya. Retrieved from https://www.globalpartnership.org/blog/putting-girls-education-first-kenya


Kimani, E. (2019). Child Marriage in Kenya: a Mixed-Methods Study of Knowledge, Attitudes, Practices and Consequences. Journal of African Economies, 28(1), 71–99.


Njuki, J., & Wyss, K. (2010). Evaluating gender mainstreaming in development projects: the case of the community health funds in Tanzania. Gender and Development, 18(2), 173-190.


Njue, C., Voeten, H. A., & Remes, P. (2011). Disempowerment and Resilience among Young Kenyan Mothers: The Role of Social Networks and Social Support. AIDS care, 23(10), 1307-1314.


Shell-Duncan, B., Wander, K., Hernlund, Y., & Moreau, A. (2011). Legislative lessons: applying social science research to policy change on female genital cutting. Political Science Quarterly, 126(3), 445-475.


The Borgen Project. (n.d.). Girls' Education in Kenya. Retrieved from https://borgenproject.org/girls-education-in-kenya/


UNICEF, UN Women, Equality Now. (2012). Violence against children in Kenya: Findings from a 2010 national survey. New York, NY: UNICEF.


UNICEF. (2017). Kenya: Education for Every Child. Retrieved from https://www.unicef.org/esa/media/1356/file/UNICEF-Kenya-2017-Child-Poverty.pdf

Weiss Scholarship FoundationWeiss Scholarship Foundation. (n.d.). Importance of Girl Child in Kenya. Retrieved from https://weissscholarshipfoundation.org/blog-post/importance-of-girl-child-in-kenya/



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