Walk Leader: Caren Kiarie
Text by: Caren Kiarie
Photographs by: Caren Kiarie
On the second day of May, we had 45 community members from different areas gather for a walk. We broke off into five groups with the idea to come back with reports on what we saw, and to compare ideas.
It is an exciting time for women’s rights where I live. It is interesting to ask each other how to empower women in economic terms, how to help them become involved with the political situation around them.
I was in a town called Kaloleni and we met with some people there. We explained what Jane’s Walk is all about, and asked if they thought it would fit into our cities. We told them, we are Kenyans and we are walking with the objective of talking about our city. We can all get involved in the growth of our city by relating ourselves to local issues, discussing the things that bar us from strengthening our community and city and country.
We started talking about security for women and zeroed in on this question: how can we possibly grow a city when it’s not safe for women? We cannot. Even the men in the group agreed that women are more vulnerable. So our walk was an awareness exercise.
After the walks, one of the groups came back and told us about a house that was supposed to be for soldiers. This was an old house, not well kept, that was now being used for prostitution. In this area there was a lot of gender-based violence. The local people were not happy and they told the group that even children are not safe playing nearby.
We decided to go and see the chief and to ask him our questions. He said that yes, he is aware. We told him no one is safe there, women can’t even go out in the evenings. He agreed. It was important to talk to him. When you are only one person, it can be hard, but if we join each other we can make our city better. We can stand with each other.
Now we are interested to link together and grow together. We walked for two hours, which was not very hard because we were discussing and meeting people at their places the entire time. We would go into their houses and compounds. It was great. Everybody participated.
You just have to ask a few questions: what do you think, do you think it can work here? What is the obstacle and what is the challenge? In our own language it is easy to invite people to talk. Now, we are planning to meet again to find a way forward. Walking is just the very beginning. I will keep going to meet people in other places and tell them to walk with us. It’s important to show the rest of the world what you’re doing in your city.