Gender Sensitive Initiatives at the School of Graduate Studies Research and Extension

By Salome Asena

In Sub-Saharan Africa, women represent 40% of the agriculture labor force, yet hunger and food security remain bigger challenges for women and girls. A woman spends 16 hours of her time in a day to cater for her family needs, roles, and responsibilities and therefore she is left with 8 hours to use for other opportunities such as training, meet with friends, just to mention but a few. The Global Agribusiness Management and Entrepreneurship (GAME) conducted a baseline and verification exercise in 2019 of 492 entrepreneurs in 9 counties and results showed that women are less likely (36.1%) to have received training in financial literacy than males (63.9%). The major hindrances to attending trainings include; physical distance to the training venues (35.8%), lack of awareness of training opportunities (32%), and fees requirements (21.7%). Female agripreneurs cited family demands and lower education as hindrances to their ability to attend training. Data on hindrance to finance disclose significant gender disparity in that, women are more likely to lack security (64.9%) and business records (57.8%) and also lack awareness on sources of funding (57.3%).

The School of Graduate Studies Research and Extension has worked with Signifide Group International to sensitize USIU-Africa faculty and staff on the gender agenda. Through this initiative, teaching aids, training materials, and posters are designed to encourage women to overcome the challenges brought about by gender norms. Moreover, experiential learning, which includes transformational life skills, entrepreneurship education, negotiation, and networking is offered at the county-level – currently taking place in nine counties in Kenya namely: (Kitui, Machakos, Nakuru, Nairobi, Kiambu, Nyandarua, Kericho, Kisumu, Siaya, Kakamega and Bungoma).

The young women are encouraged to bring their children to the training sessions as there are designated daycare rooms with child care professionals who look after the children while the young mothers concentrate on learning. Additionally, the training sessions include citizen responsibility and therefore adapt the Ungwana & Ushenzi concepts.

Working with the School of Science and Technology, the School of Graduate Studies, Research, and Extension has assisted young men and women entrepreneurs to digitize their business operations and embed resilience in their business models. Currently, the School of Graduate Studies, Research and Extension is conducting a market assessment and value chain analysis for refugee’s livelihoods in Nairobi and its environs to promote livelihoods for refugees especially women.

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