Volunteer highlights successes in International Women’s Day address

CDF Canada participated at events that marked International Women’s Day in Kenya. In Kajiado, activities involved edutainment, exhibitions, health checkups, as well as recognizing and awarding women empowerment champions, and speeches. Below is VOICE for Women and Girls volunteer Mona Zorigoo’s motivational speech highlighting the important role co-operatives play in empowering women.  

I am pleased to be here with CDF Canada to help celebrate and support International Women’s Day.  

CDF Canada is global partner that works with local co-operatives to help build their capacity and support sustainable social and economic growth, in partnership with the Government of Canada. This is done through various projects, such as the VOICE for Women and Girls volunteer cooperation project here in Kenya. The VOICE project aims to help achieve gender equality and empower women and girls by working directly with local organizations, producer co-operatives and Savings and Credit Cooperatives (SACCOs). Another part of the VOICE project is to send volunteers like me from Canada to support the work CDF Canada is doing on the ground. 

When we talk about economic growth that works for everyone and social well-being, it is important that we support local communities with the tools and resources to enable women to have more opportunities.

VOICE for Women and Girls volunteer Mona Zorigoo gives a speech during International Women’s Day.

This is why CDF Canada partners with local co-operatives because organizations like SACCOs are so important in helping give women access to financial support and capital that they could not access otherwise. A huge barrier to self-sufficiency for many women has been the lack of access to traditional loans and banking and it is very hard to earn money and be independent if they have limited capital to help them get started. Women, especially, face barriers such as lack of education or work opportunities, which puts them at a disadvantage.  

But we have seen the positive impact that women’s groups and SACCOs have on empowering women. Women who are part of these groups can support one another, by growing together, sharing the burden, and receiving the benefits together. By working together, they can achieve so much more and get so much farther than they would on their own. These groups and SACCOs also give women access to loans that they cannot get anywhere else, which removes a huge financial barrier for many of them. This is why SACCOs are so important, especially for people who need a little push, a little support to help get them started, because they are so capable if they just get the chance. 

I recently had the opportunity to visit some of the communities across the country and meet some remarkable and inspiring women. I spoke with one woman who had been recently widowed and had a child with a disability. She had no other family members to support her and was the sole provider for herself and her children. I saw how hard-working this woman was, and how much she cared for her children, making sure they were taken care of and went to school every day, including sending her son who has a disability to a boarding school to make sure he receives a good education. She explained to me how she had injured her back last year and was unable to walk properly or do any farming. The only thing that helped her was the savings she had in the SACCO and the loan she received to keep her and her children from going hungry.  

Without the SACCO, this woman would not have been able to get a loan, or save as much as she did, and the situation could have been much worse. This is a great example of how SACCOs can help women who have no other supports. We encourage everyone to explore their local credit union and see how they can help you achieve your goals. 

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