While the focus of TVT is to empower women and youth to be able to take charge of their own affairs through various economic interventions, it has become clear that economic empowerment will only be sustainable where there is good governance and credible leadership in the management of the public resources. This in turn will guarantee existence of adequate and reliable social amenities such hospitals, schools etc.
TVT's efforts to empower women and youth economically have therefore revealed the need to also empower them politically and socially and the only way to do this is through civic education. Even though majority of the voters are women and youth, it is very sad to note that not many women are holding influential political positions, which are in charge of national policies formulation. Furthermore women are usually intimidated to vote for other women but on a large scale ignorance plays a key role in the voting pattern on rural communities.
TVT has therefore been organizing workshops whose objective has been to educate rural communities especially youth and women on the need for them to be actively involved in the process of electing individuals who will bring development in all sectors of the economy. The Sustainable Governance workshops are also aimed at empowering youth with information on how to achieve both economic and political empowerment to avoid being taken advantage by politicians due poverty. Through civic education, women and youth that women are educated on ways of creating employment and having a say on the way resources are managed. By being aware of their individual rights and be free to elect credible leaders to spearhead their rural development agenda.
Where communities are not well informed they tend to elect leaders who are lacking in terms of integrity and professionalism and have no vision for the well being of the community. Women and youth make up the majority of voters in the rural communities and if they are well informed and empowered to be active in politics they would turn the political landscape of their communities for good management of public resources and efficient management of government institutions.
Workshops and seminars on the rights of individuals as enshrined in the constitution are essential more so as Kenya prepares for the next general election. Under the new constitution both power and resources have been devolved to the grass root. Unless there people at the grass root level are aware of the stakes involved, if the resources are managed by mediocre and corrupt individual, the intended benefits will be hard to realize. The workshops are moderated by individuals with expertise on wealth creation, good governance and human rights.
Report of the past training on Role of Women and Youth in the Sustainable Governance
TVT operations are mainly in the rural villages where illiteracy and ignorance are quite alarming. Through advocacy and social mobilization women and youth are informed on the benefits that will accrue to them from the new Kenyan constitution if, they elect leaders of integrity and foresight. In line with this understanding, The Village Trust Fund (TVT) facilitated a civic education seminar entitled the Role of Women and Youth in the Sustainable Governance and leadership on the 6th October 2012 at Nduluma Primary school in Tigania East of Meru County, Kenya. This is one of a series of workshops that TVT has embarked on in an effort to educate Kenyans on their civic rights.
The main aim of the Sustainable Governance is to promote general awareness of democratic principles, the practice of good governance, the rule of law, and constitutionalism. By promoting awareness of these fundamentals, the programme seeks to contribute to the consolidation of a mature political culture in Meru County and Kenya in general, where groups and individuals are not only aware of their rights and obligations but are also able to advocate their positions.
The presentations covered the following areas:
Link between economic and political empowerment
Importance of selecting leaders of integrity and respect for the ordinary persons
How youth and women could be effective in shaping politics of the county. How to make their voices heard
Understanding Chapter 4 of the Kenya constitution and implications for individual rights and freedoms
How to identify good leaders from a pool of many leaders- characteristics of a good leader from a Christian perspective
Building strong financial positions and sustaining families
Governance of public resources sharing of best practices
The TVT Sustainable Governance program is also expected to influence abilities such as public speaking, problem-solving, working in groups, and the like, that enable individuals to participate more effectively in groups and in the political process more freely.
Even more specifically, TVTs Sustainable Governance activities should influence the individual’s sense of political efficacy, or the extent to which individuals believe that they can have influence in the political system and that the system is responsive to attempts by individuals to exert that influence. Such perceptions of efficacy are critical in determining individual participation in politics; as a systemic factor efficacy is important in holding elites accountable to ordinary citizens, as elected officials are thought to be more responsive to public pressures when they believe that citizens feel efficacious and may take future collective actions to further their interests.
Aside from promoting knowledge, political awareness, and civic skills, TVT anticipates that its Sustainable Governance programs will result in individuals having a higher level of engagement with the political system. This includes first the individual’s psychological engagement with politics, or the level of interest the individual has in keeping up with politics, and the extent to which the individual follow politics and political events in the mass media. Moreover, as noted above, civic education attempts to encourage individuals to become actively engaged in democratic political life. TVT thus focuses on the extent to which individuals who receive civic training are more likely as a result to take part in a series of democratic political behaviors ranging from local level participation, contact with local and national authorities, electoral participation and peaceful protests and demonstrations.
The turnout by the trainees was great particularly due to the extensive mobilization exercise, which was done by local youth. Various forms of social mobilization were used to ensure full participation. These included: the use of organized forums which were done by the local leaders in form of public barazas, church meetings, community gatherings, youth groups, women groups and other developmental groups. Radio programmes were also used to ask the people to turnout out for the event the other. The training started on time and the participants were motivated from the start to the end. The participants were so thirsty for information and as can be seen from the pictures everybody was busy taking notes and asking questions, which was provided a good ground for free interaction among the participants. They wanted more time and they were promised to have another session at a later date after having gone through the other locations of the county.
The workshop was organized in a remote part of Tigania East, an area where access to information is very limited as most of the inhabitants are illiterate. Normally, TVT targets communities faced with the following problems: where illiteracy levels are very high, insecurity, economic marginalization, poor political representation, and poverty and land ownership problems. Participants to this workshop were women, men, people with disabilities and youth.
The training was very successful and more than 200 women and youth benefitted much from the facilitation. It is important to note the thirst for information portrayed by the audience such that a similar workshop is very crucial for other remote rural areas as when resources are available. The trainees were awarded certificates of participation which were presented by local leaders who also addressed the participants on the need to vote wisely and elect people of integrity and respect for human rights.
Many more workshops are planned for other rural area depending in the availability of funds.
To donate towards the TVT Sustainable Governance programme, contact TVT or send your donation through the provided link.