Change is one of the only constants in life yet people are reluctant to embrace it. This is mostly because change represents a departure from the norm and results in feelings of uncertainty. Culture plays a huge role in people’s identities; however, it has some aspects that form barriers to creating change. Many communities in my country, Kenya, are culturally patriarchal. The issues of women empowerment and promotion of women’s rights are not given the prominence that they deserve. In these communities, people are not open to the idea of the emancipation of women. Empowering women to be independent and in charge of making their own decisions is frowned upon. Any value that doesn’t place women in a subordinate role is viewed as being against culture and therefore unacceptable. In such cases it becomes difficult to mobilize and work with women in the community.
Poverty is another key barrier to creating change. Women are the ones who bear the brunt of poverty the most. They are charged with providing for their families and ensuring that the finances in the home, however little they may be, are sufficient to meet all the needs of the household. As a result even when skill building and vocational workshops are offered to them, they are unable to afford the transport costs of getting to the workshops. Sometimes they just do not have the time to attend as they are busy looking for odd jobs or finding means to ensure their families have basic necessities.
In order to overcome these challenges, grassroots women empowerment organizations should be based within communities and ensure that they target the specific needs of that particular community. The help of respected female members in these communities should be enlisted and they should be included as part of the dialogue of enacting positive change. I think that people are more receptive to ideas when they come from someone they know, respect and trust rather than a complete stranger. Eliminating poverty is a process. In order to empower women who face this challenge, workshops and trainings should be carried out within walking distance of the community. In cases where this is not possible, women should be provided with transport and food for themselves and their families on the days that they attend training.
PulseWire has provided me with the opportunity to connect with like-minded individuals. From them, I can learn how they are working to overcome challenges faced by their communities and use some of their ideas in overcoming challenges in my community. Through Resource Exchange, I can network and find people who can help or refer me to people who can help in working towards the elimination of barriers to creating change. PulseWire has a wide audience base and by being part of this community and raising awareness on challenges faced my community, I will be able to engage people who have resources that they can invest in assisting in not only overcoming challenges but also in empowering women.