In this report, WONDER Foundation highlights the need to equip young women in rural Kenya with a diverse skill set so they can adapt and thrive in the post-COVID world.
Kenya’s coast is one of the poorest regions in Kenya. Here, women and girls face unique barriers to fulfilling their potential. This is often due to gender-based inequalities and cultural expectations. Girls’ education is seldom prioritised by families, sometimes even rejected.
The pandemic has affected Kenya’s coast, which relies on the tourism industry as a source of income. This has caused an increase in poverty in the region. Many families who depend on this industry to survive are going hungry. Even before COVID-19, the limited opportunities and choices of young women and girls predisposed them towards early marriage, teenage pregnancies and prostitution. This reinforces the vicious cycle of poverty.
The pandemic has magnified the gender inequalities which affect girls’ education. Students at Tewa Training Centre, WONDER’s partner school, haven’t had access to the tools they need to continue their education. Classrooms closed and increased responsibilities at home make returning to education a challenge.
In this report, WONDER explores the situation of women in Kenya’s coastal region. The report offers a compelling case for why equipping women with a diverse skill set in business management and self-employment, alongside hospitality and tourism training, will equip vulnerable young women with the tools they need to be self-sustaining in a fragile marketplace post-COVID.
During the pandemic, women who had both hard and soft skills benefitted from greater job security and resilience. As sources of income dried up following the pandemic, some of Tewa’s students and alumni have set up their own businesses. This helps them provide new sources of income for their families. Their experience has highlighted the value of a diverse skill set. It also highlights the role of education in developing young women’s capacity to make informed decisions about their futures.
Established in 2010, Tewa Training Centre provides local women with the skills to thrive in Kilifi’s main industries: hospitality and tourism. What makes Tewa unique is its holistic and integrated approach. The two-year hospitality and entrepreneurship course develops young women’s hard skills and soft skills through mentoring.
To maintain progress and stay relevant in a changing and fragile marketplace, Tewa is developing project Jitegamee with WONDER. The project will adapt the curriculum to these new trends and challenges in the hospitality industry.
Project Jitegemee will supplement Tewa’s accredited hospitality and tourism training. With short courses geared towards business management and self-employment, it will train its students in social media management, marketing and e-commerce — tools that will be relevant even after COVID-19.