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anti-capitalism Events Social Justice Centres Social Justice Centres Working Group Solidarity

May Day 01.05.21 Protestors March Towards State House

Revolutionary Greetings to all the workers of the World. Today as we mark International Day of the workers, we express our solidarity with all the workers in Kenya and beyond. On this day, we in Kenya choose to reflect on the State of the Nation and what the pandemic has meant for thousands of workers in the country.

On the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March last year, the country was launched into uncertainty and panic as the world we knew was halted by the mysterious virus. World over, governments got into swift action to alleviate the effects of the pandemic on its people cushioning them socially and economically.  Here in Kenya the uncreative, plutocratic government employed their clownish antics barking out measures on a daily basis with no concrete scientific backing or connection to the realities of common mwananchi. To date, they continue to do so with little progress to show, tangible or otherwise. Behind the scenes they continue to feed their insatiable appetite of external borrowing and looting public resources, pushing further the already strained economy to its death bed. One year on, the government continues to tighten the noose on the necks of Kenyans with zero investment towards relieving the plight of the masses. We are now held hostage in our own country under unscientific, below the par unrealistic measurements. What started as a health crisis in other parts of the world landed in Kenya as a political and security issue with boots and guns released to the masses instead of white coats and vaccines.

Thousands of workers have lost their livelihoods around the country yet in the fallacious manifestos, the two Godfathers of corruption, Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta and William Ruto together with their ODM partners in thievery under the leadership of Raila Amolo Odinga, promised to create jobs especially for the youth. In their classic lameness, they continue to mock the youth in Kenya by dangling the carrots of kazi Mtaani and ridiculous wheelbarrownomics, indignifying further a disgruntled populace. How can a government loathe its people that much? That in the middle of a pandemic and with the massive job cuts they continue to loot the country coffers while locking the economy that mwananchi depends on? The constitution of Kenya under article 43 demands that every Kenyan is entitled to social welfare, quality healthcare and education, decent housing. What we have however witnessed is a dilapidated healthcare system, a confused and clueless school curriculum that has affected the quality of education our children get and a shamelessly odious external borrowing only for the funds to line the pockets of the hoggish cabal. 

We the people of Kenya, stand in solidarity with all the workers. We remember and honor the frontline workers that have died in the line of duty, abandoned by a government that was supposed to protect them. We have at heart and mind those that have been inhumanely left homeless through the evictions and destruction of their homes. We remember those innocent Kenyans that have bore the brunt of a ferine police force that has traumatized and oppressed thousands during this pandemic at the nod of their masters. We stand with all hardworking Kenyans that have lost their live hoods and now live in strenuous conditions that take a toll on their mental health. We stand with Kenyans, young and old, who have had enough and are keen to forge an army to take back our country.

In the same breathe, we the people demand:

  1. That Uhuru Kenyatta and his political groupies unconditionally unlock our country with immediate effect. The pandemic is not a political opportunity or security issue. It is a healthcare and behavioral change issue and thus should be treated as such. The dusk to dawn curfews and partial lockdowns are not only unscientific but unrealistic.
  2. That the government rolls out a well elaborated social welfare plan to cushion vulnerable Kenyans during this pandemic.
  3. Stop all the inhumane evictions being witnessed around the country.
  4. Stop aiding police brutality and extra judicial killings. All murderers in uniform must be brought to book and punished severely.
  5. Fully implement article 43 and restore the dignity of Kenyans.
  6. Lastly but most importantly, we call for the resignation of Uhuru Kenyatta and his cronies. You have failed the country and treated the constitution with disdain, refusing to live by its spirit and attempting to subvert the will of the people though the illegitimate BBI. You have lost all moral authority to lead this country. Pack your bags and go.

To all progressive Kenyans, We call upon you, invoking the spirit of our fore fathers and freedom fighters, to arise and take back our country. We cannot live in fear anymore. When we lose our fear, they lose their power. Arise Patriots Arise. Aluta continua.

Find the full statement for the May Day Protest here:

 Statement By Police Reforms Working Group:

We, the Police Reforms Working Group-Kenya (PRWG-Kenya), are alarmed and utterly dismayed by the illegal arrest, detention, and killing of Collins, a youth from Mathare in Nairobi County on 29th April 2021. This is the latest killing of a Mathare youth allegedly by a most rogue police officer known as Baraza, who operates in Mathare and Pangani areas within Nairobi County. 

Mathare Social Justice Centre (MSJC) meticulously documented Collins’ abduction in a timeline shared on Twitter. MSJC sent pleas for help to the National Police Service, the Inspector General of NPS, the Director of Criminal Investigations without recourse…

Find the full Police Reforms Working Group Statement Here:

Categories
anti-capitalism

Nairobi- Capitalism Mtaani

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anti-capitalism

Protest Against Illegal IMF Debt

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anti-capitalism Social Justice Centres Social Justice Centres Working Group Women in Social Justice Centres

Drugs and police in Mathare, by Lucy Wambui

Lucy Wambui, is an activist based in Mathare and member of MSJC.

Drug use among young people in Nairobi’s slums is on the rise. Youth also face arbitrary arrests by the police, resulting in jail time which turns them into hardcore criminals in a vicious cycle.

Those who have lived in Mathare know the various challenges faced by the many people that call this place home. When I say Mathare, I mean the whole six wards in Mathare. We lack basic services and needs; there is poor sanitation, a lack of proper housing, and a lack of jobs mostly for our youths. Many of us also count ourselves lucky if we have food every day.

At the same time, youth between 9-30 years are now increasingly using drugs. And I want to highlight why they are into drugs, where they get the money for drugs, and how this makes them a target of police abuse of power, including: extrajudicial executions, enforced disappearances, extortion, and arbitrary arrests.

The connection between drugs and crime among the youths in Mathare is seen, for instance, when they involve themselves in criminal activities like petty robbery in order to get money to buy drugs. Criminals also use drugs as a form of boosting confidence before they get into crime. At the same time, due to arbitrary arrests happening daily within the slums, youths are detained on allegations of drug use and trafficking, which land them in jail. After they are released, they come out being hardcore criminals, involving themselves more in crime.

Being born and brought up in a family that sells and uses drugs creates an environment for one to get into crime as well. This is even if your family are selling “illegal” alcohol and drugs to make ends meet; there are barely any jobs for us from Mathare, and our mothers selling chang’aa has enabled us to eat and go to school. But the addiction that comes about, even when one just started with small doses, can change one’s life completely. For example, Sandra, a woman I know said:

I am a mother of two and I am in my late twenties. My addition started when I was just a young girl. My mother used to sell chang’aa [illegal alcohol] and sell shash [marijuana]. I first indulged in drugs when I was just eight years old and I would take the drugs unnoticed and use them without anyone knowing. My thirst for money and harder drugs increased, and I started spiking the drinks of the clients who came to drink in our home, and I would steal from them any valuables I would find like watches, money, phones, and any other thing that would equate to cash. That’s how I got myself into crime and to date I still go to the big bars and clubs, and when I see an easy prey, I spike their drink and run away with anything I could lay my hands on. The desire for money and addiction to drugs is what makes me do this. I blame my mum for this because were it not for the environment she brought me up in I would have studied, and I would be a better person in the society.

But depression and life situations also can influence us to use drugs. Halima (20), a single mother from Mathare also shared that:

When I was just a small girl my dad was killed by the police after he was labeled a criminal. After my father was killed, me and my brother were raised by a single mum and life was not easy for us. At the age of 15 I got married and got a child. When my child was two years old my brother got arrested and jailed. My husband had a road accident the following year and died. I was left to raise my kid alone and this drove me to depression, and I started using drugs. It got so serious to the extent that I was not able to raise my kid and my mother-in-law took him to raise him.

We can see that the government also has a role to play, they create and sustain this negative environment. When I interacted with most youths here in Mathare, I understood why the Kenyan authorities and young men in the slums play a cat and mouse game: they are like water and oil, they can never mix. According to most youths in the area, they say that instead of police officers maintaining law and order and protecting life, they make crime increase. The police are the ones who provide guns to them to go and commit crimes, and police get money from drug dens, ensuring that drugs are always sold where poor people can see them, where poor people live.

At the same time, the police are arresting youths daily using fabricated charges, and some end up being disappeared and others are killed by police. This makes youths get into crime and use drugs because they have given up on life, and they don’t know who will be next in the hands of a killer cop.

The protection of drug peddlers is also enabled by many people “in high places,” who protect them and protect their interests. These people have both interests in drugs and in crime and stopping any of these businesses would definitely cost them a lot. These peddlers include politicians, the police and the so-called local business community.

It is said that politicians are the ones who own these drugs, and they have to protect the people who sell them to ensure that there is regular flow of cash. These politicians are the ones who benefit most from criminal groups, and the ones who do nothing when we are killed. They use the petty drug dealers to cause mayhem during campaigns and other political functions, by just giving them some drugs and little cash that can make them go wild. And the police know both the politicians and those who sell drugs. But for them they make it a profit: they go to these dens daily collecting cash, which people call ushuru [taxes] or tango, and if they target anyone, they target the young men peddlers trying to make ends meet not the politicians.

The taxes they get, given out by the peddlers and other members of the “business community,” are costs for protection, making sure that drugs can be sold another day. And it is the poor who suffer the most because of these profits, like Halima and Sandra, when their families are torn apart.

Original article can be found at Africa is a Country here.

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Social Justice Centres Social Justice Centres Working Group Solidarity

Kenya A Prison Notebook

“Written 25 years ago, Kenya: A Prison Notebook has inspired generations and proved a great resource and a handbook in political education in Kenya and beyond. It chronicles Maina Wa Kinyatti’s arrest and detention by the Moi regime and powerfully captures Kenya’s history. Maina wa Kinyatti was then a university professor and foremost researcher on the Mau Mau (Kenya Land and Freedom Army), the liberation movement that engaged the British colonialists in the armed struggle for land and freedom. In 1982, he was arrested by state agents for ‘possession of seditious material’ and detained by the Moi regime. Maina wrote Kenya: A Prison Notebook over the course of the next six and half years he spent in detention – mostly in solitary confinement. Maina’s work and writing remain a constant and painful reminder that the objectives of the freedom struggle the Mau Mau engaged in are yet to be achieved. Kenya is a neo-colonial state. Her economy is in the hands of global capital and imperialism, while constitutionally guaranteed rights and freedoms are everyday blatantly disregarded with impunity. Maina’s generation continued with the struggle for a better society and showed great courage by confronting a regime that was prepared to go to any lengths to suppress dissenting voices. Today, another generation is continuing with that struggle in fulfillment of its historical responsibility.

Through this collection of reflections on Kenya: A Prison Notebook, young comrades from various movements and organizations interrogate the lived reality and material conditions of their generation whilst relating them to past struggles and experiences. They reflect on a range of themes; including the purpose of education as a tool for liberation or bondage; the unfinished task of national liberation; intergenerational inheritance of social struggles in Kenya; not forgetting the pain, courage, patriotism, and organizing reflected in the book. These reflections are a celebration of Maina wa Kinyatti and all those who engaged in struggles for a better Kenya and Afrika. They additionally are an urgent reminder of the need to organize more than ever given the lived reality and material conditions of our people – those living in deprivation, those whose rights are suppressed and freedoms infringed. They are a reminder that struggle, like change, is a constant. These reflections were inspired by a conversation-on at Ukombozi Library between Gacheke Gachihi, Nicholas Mwangi, and Brian Mathenge.A Luta continua! Sungu Oyoo – Editor

Full PDF of the Book can be found here.

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anti-capitalism Mathare Green Movement Social Justice Centres Social Justice Centres Working Group Solidarity

Nigel Topping, UN Climate Champion of Climate Change Visiting Mathare MSJC and Mathare Green Movement

Nigel Topping recently appointed UK High-Level Climate Action Champion visits Mathare Social Justice Centre to speak with MSJC members or ecological justice. Showing support for the Mathare Green Movement, a campaign to bring dignity to the lives of people through environmental justice.

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Mothers of Victims & Survivors Network Police Brutality Social Justice Centres

Launch of The Mothers of Victims and Survivors Network Report

Saturday 20th of February marked the launch of the Mothers of Victims & Survivors Network Report . The launch coincided with World Social Justice Day. Members of the Network convened at the Orbit Hall, Mathare. The Mothers of Victims and Survivors Network started in late 2017. It was formed for the purposes of documenting many cases of mainly extrajudicial executions, enforced disappearances, police brutality, and other inhumanities by the police.

The day was marked by talks and discussions by members of MSJC and community members. People joined in solidarity to grieve over those they have lost to police brutality and charted ways forward for accountability and justice. The report can be read and downloaded here.

 

 

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anti-capitalism Social Justice Centres Social Justice Centres Working Group

Social Justice Reggae Kiamaiko: ‘Ndoto Za Mau Mau’

By Lena Anyuolo

Music as a form of art has been used as a progressive tool for educating and organizing the oppressed masses. Reggae music has played a crucial role in educating the people towards self-emancipation, progressive organizing and a collective awakening to end neo-colonialism and imperialism. ‘Watoto Wanasay’ will be a segment of the reggae session that will allow children in the community to be seen and heard as critical members of the community.

The first session of the ‘Reggae Mtaani’ series was held on 14th November 2020 at Al-Jazeera, Kiamaiko. The host centre was the Kiamaiko Community Justice Centre. Reggae Mtaani is a community organizing tool that aims at bringing community members towards collective reflection and collective action against marginalisation. The organizing principles are self-emancipation, resistance, restoration, redemption, liberation and celebration.

The thematic topics discussed during the session at Aljazeera were forced evictions and land injustices, gender based violence, extrajudicial executions, constitutionalism, social justice, the language of our music and ecological justice. It was also a celebration  of our history where we paid homage to freedom fighters, using this collective memory of the struggle to reflect on where we have come from and the task of our generation to realise ‘Ndoto za Mau Mau’ (the dreams of Mau Mau).

Under the segment ‘Watoto Wanasay’, we tackled children’s rights and gave children in the community a chance to have the mic to give their opinion on the positive changes needed in the community.

Reggae Mtaani  also celebrated the unsung heroes in the community such as garbage collectors, community health workers, human rights activists and the women who run the coffee and jaba bases in Kiamaiko, which are valued as communal meeting spaces for relaxation, organising and psychosocial healing.

Reggae Mtaani deconstructed the negative stereotype often used to criminalize the youth using the narrative that falsely equates jabaration, reggae music and youth bases with ‘illegal activity.’ It showed the community that a congregation where reggae music is played does not have to be a funeral or a night club, but a space where our collective consciousness is raised for self emancipation, restoration, resistance, redemption and celebration.

Reggae Mtaani was conceptualized and brought to life through the collective  effort of members of  Social Justice Centres. The activity at Aljazeera was coordinated by: MSJC- Antony ‘Kanare’ Muoki, Kinuthia Mwangi, Lena Anyuolo; DJ Talanta: ‘The one hand DJ’ was the main deejay for the event; Githurai and Ghetto radio – Edgar ‘Liberator’ Ogutu who MC’d the event and provided key information on the logistics and structure of the day; comrades from Kiamaiko Social Justice Centre who provided the chairs and hosted the activity; Al Jazeera  Group and Voice of Kiamaiko provided the venue, event marshals, and co-hosted the activity; the broader Social Justice Network in Mathare provided the sound system; and EBTI Sacco provided transportation for the equipment.

A notable success of the activity is that it was not funded, relying wholly on available resources from individuals, groups in the community and the social justice centres.

Besides members of the Kiamaiko community, the following social justice centres were also represented by their members – Kiamaiko, Ruaraka, Mathare, Ghetto Foundation, Kayole, Komarock, Githurai, Dandora and Kamukunji.

Reggae Mtaani will be a series of weekly reggae sessions held every Sunday in different ghettos in Nairobi. The sessions will be hosted by the various social justice centres within Nairobi’s informal settlements.

The next vibration will be hosted by the Mathare Social Justice Centre (MSJC).

To all our comrades, men an women actively engaged in the struggle, we say this: “Continue Organizing. ORGANIZE. ORGANIZE. ORGANIZE!” AMANDLA!

See pictures from the first session below:

 

 

 

 

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Police Brutality

Open Letter to the DPP — Unlawful Detention, Injury to and Charges against Mathare residents

MSJC is still actively working to support Jacktone and Peter, whose cases are described below. Below is an open letter we have written to the Director of Public Prosecutions to demand justice for the two, and other Peters and Jacktones in poor communities.

 

To Noordin Haji

Director of Public Prosecutions

Ragati Road, Upper Hill

Nairobi, Kenya

 

Re: Open Letter to the DPP — Unlawful Detention, Injury to and Charges against Mathare residents

 

Monday, November 2, 2020

 

Dear Director of Public Prosecutions — Noordin Haji,

Mathare Social Justice Centre (MSJC) is an initiative by young members of this community to promote social justice. Against the widespread systematic violences in the area, a collective of young community activists in Mathare came together in 2014 to e nvision a centre that would promote more participatory forms of justice. Since then we have been involved in a number of initiatives, most notably our foundational campaign to document extrajudicial killings that resulted in the launch of our 2017 report titled: Who is Next? A Participatory Action Report Against the Normalization of Extrajudicial Killings in Mathare. This grassroots report ended up being one of the most comprehensive tallies of extrajudicial killings by the police in Kenya between 2013 – 2016: we documented over 850 deaths across by country by the police during this period.

We continue with this work even while the same officers who we have documented, over many years, as grave human rights violators, continue to illegally detain, injure and often kill residents across poor urban settlements. Particular to Mathare, we refer to Police Officers Rashid and Baraza; we have forwarded tens of cases to IPOA implicating Rashid in the killings of young residents, to no avail.

As part of this community work, we are actively involved in the cases of Jacktone Omondi (18 years) and Peter Wakaba (17 years) who were shot and injured by the police in Mathare on October 14, 2020, at around 7.30 pm. It was the swift and determined action by three young Mathare women activists, who alerted local networks and managed to get the young men medical care hours after they had been shot, that saved their lives.

From the information we have gathered from residents and witnesses since then, and heavily implicating Police Officer Baraza, Jacktone was shot as he was going about his normal day to day activities in Espana in Mlango Kubwa, and was rescued by women in the community– they took him to a safe space. Peter Wakaba was shot by Baraza in his leg as he was sitting and eating food, mushogi, in an outdoor space alos in Mlango Kubwa. Peter was then put in the back of a Probox car number KCP 361V, and taken to Tosha Petrol Station. His mother and other community members then went to Tosha Petrol Station to plead for Peter to be taken to hospital and to question why Baraza had shot him. Baraza responded that he was going to let him bleed until he died in the car. But after more protest by these community members, Baraza took Peter to Pangani Police Station, and he was told, even as his leg bled, to clean the cell. It was the inmates who protested that he should not be in the cell as he was bleeding, forcing Baraza to take him out and leave him close to the river in Mathare.

Thereafter, the three women activists, all of whom have lost family members to police killings in Mathare, managed to take both Jacktone and Peter to the nearby Medical Sans Frontiers (MSF) clinic, and hours later managed to get the two to Kenyatta National Hospital: they sat with them for twelve hours before they were admitted. Jacktone and Peter had surgery a day later on October 15, but unfortunately were treated like prisoners while they were in the hospital even if they had not committed any crime: they were chained to the hospital bed for the days they were there, and not allowed to shower.

On October 26, Peter Wakaba’s mother and a lawyer from Amnesty Kenya went to pay their hospital bill to get them both released from hospital, but their doctor refused as he said they did not have permission from Pangani Police Station. Between October 27 – 30, Peter’s mother received a number of phone calls from an officer called Mukisii telling her to go to the Pangani Police Station to get a letter that would get both Peter and Jacktone released from the hospital, but was unsure about whether to go. On October 30, Peter and Jacktone were released from Kenyatta National Hospital and taken to Pangani Police Station where they are currently being held, even when they have not committed any crime, and are still recovering from the police inflicted gunshot wounds.

This letter serves to alert the DPP about any false charges that may be brought against Peter and Jacktone, even when they have done nothing wrong. We ask that you stand firm and question any charges that may be brought against these two young men by Pangani Police Station. In addition, there are many Peter and Jacktones, and, therefore, this letter is also a request to the DPP to commit to supporting poor communities such as Mathare that are struggling under a systemic terror enacted by police officers like Rashid and Baraza. We are closely following the case of Duncan Ndiema, and ask that the DPP take similar swift action against other police officers in Mathare, and elsewhere, that are terrorizing poor communities.

We can no longer live with police instigated unlawful detentions, charges, killings and violence in our community.

Mathare Social Justice Centre (MSJC)

You can download this letter here: MSJC Open letter to the DPP – November 2, 2020

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Dada Talks

Dada Talks @ MSJC for Young Women’s Health, Safety & Menstrual Justice

The COVID-19 pandemic has made worse many of the social justice issues we do advocacy around. It has also unearthed many other issues that tend to be overlooked in our push for social justice. For example, following the outbreak, it became clear world over that the ‘work-from-home’ approach to the crisis was a luxury that many could not afford and that many families were sleeping hungry due to the pandemic. In response, as a social justice centre and in collaboration with our partners (both individuals, government, non-governmental organisations and the broader social justice movement), we received food donations that have helped feed many families most affected by the pandemic. While distributing food to the needy in our community, we noted that not only had the pandemic severely affected people’s livelihood, it had affected teenage girls and young women in unique ways that we had not dealt with before. Specifically, we noted that, often, most of those sent to collect food packages were young women and teenage girls no longer in school due to the pandemic. Often, the girls would collect the food packages and request for sanitary towels.  After noting a pattern of teenage girls and young women needing help with menstrual products, we mobilised within and included sanitary towels in our packages. We also started talking to the girls to understand their experiences of the pandemic. It was from these initial talks with individual girls and young women that it became clear that young women and girls were a group uniquely affected by the pandemic and whose needs brought together many issues of social justice that we’ve long advocated for. Among the issues that became clear were that:

  1. There was limited awareness on menstrual health management (MHM). Many of those that provided food packages did not for instance include sanitary towels.
  2. Menstrual health was not a priority in many families. With many parents out of work, most families prioritise food and shelter over other expenses.
  3. COVID-19 has both exacerbated and highlighted the need for a menstrual health focus. Access to menstrual products has been deprioritised by the government and parents, while most young girls and women would have access to these while in school, many are now forced to stay home as their parents cannot afford sanitary towels.

I was in this regard that we started holding weekly meetings with girls on menstrual issues that has since expanded to include broader social justice issues.

Target group

Our target group is young girls and women aged 12 to 22 years, as most of them have an understanding of menstrual health matters and can speak for themselves about issues affecting them in their communities.

Linked to broader social justice issues

We saw menstrual health as linked to many social justice issues and campaigns we’ve started since establishing MSJC. For instance, among the issues flagged by participants was that it was difficult for them to have proper menstrual hygiene when their families have to buy water during this difficult period under the pandemic. Related, the participants noted that it was often embarrassing to dispose used sanitary towels in the community as the community lacks basic sanitation facilities. Further, the issue of menstrual health is about lack of political accountability in that despite the 2019 Menstrual Hygiene Management Bill, many women and girls still lack access to affordable menstrual products. Some of these issues were highlighted by participants in the following MSJC menstrual health campaign video.

 The Objective of Dada Talks

  1. To create confidence among young women and girls (ages 12-22) for them to better express themselves when faced with challenges in the community.
  2. To understand and harness some of the young women and girl’s ideas in better managing menstrual health. E.g. some have great ideas on making reusable sanitary towels and other reusable menstrual products.
  3. To push government to change its approach to menstrual health by ensuring access of menstrual products, initially availed in schools, in communities during the pandemic and beyond.
  4. To create a safe space for young women and girls to express themselves.

Activities/ structure

  1. Hold weekly sessions with a group of 25 girls from Mathare on various topics that are affecting girls in communities.
  2. Those trained where possible to mentor others in their respective neighbourhood in the community as the centre is yet to develop a capacity to host more than 25 girls and young women.
  3. Air documentaries of women trailblazers to inspire the young women and girls
  4. Conduct community outreach where possible to reach the young women and girls unable to participate.
  5. Expose the girls to other people outside Mathare.
  6. Advocacy.

Outputs

  1. To have cells in every ward in Mathare Constituency creating awareness on menstrual hygiene and providing a safe space for young women and girls to convene.
  2. To have better access to menstrual products provided by the government
  3. Confident girls and young women that know their rights

 

See pictures from some of our sessions below!