In celebration of International Day of the Girl, Daring Girls and our sister organization, GLAMI, announced today that CWE-TECH, the Centre for Women Empowerment in Technology, based in Kenya, has been named as our very first partner outside Tanzania to implement the UNESCO Award Winning mentoring programs you help us support.
For more than a decade, Kisa Project (2-year socially responsible leadership course for girls age 17-21) and Binti Shupavu (4-year life skills course for girls age 12-18) have helped Tanzanian girls build critical life skills and connections that have supported them to complete their education and prepare them to lead positive change in their communities.
But for a while, we’ve been wondering: if these programs work so well in Tanzania, couldn’t they work just as successfully for girls in other countries?
(Spoiler alert: We think they can.)
Earlier this year, we set out to answer this question by quietly soliciting applications from community-based partners interested in working with us to localize and implement Kisa Project or Binti Shupavu in their communities.
Which led us to CWE-TECH.
(Pictured below: Binti Shupavu Scholars at Kaganda Secondary School and Mirichu Secondary School in Murang’a County, Kenya.)
Overwhelming Response, Outstanding Applicants
We kept our call for applications fairly quiet and targeted, with only a short two-week window from the announcement date to the application deadline. We expected about 20 applications.
Instead, we saw 200 organizations complete the self-assessment to determine eligibility to apply for our pilot. We received 75 completed applications from community based organizations in 12 African countries – more than three times the interest we anticipated.
We were astounded by the clear need and hunger amongst local organizations for proven programming that would help girls build confidence, resilience, and critical life skills. Through our pilot, we hoped our time-tested curriculum framework would save another organization from the time and expense of creating and testing their own program. We just didn’t realize how many organizations would be ready and willing to work with us.
In the end, CWE-TECH rose to the top. Through their thoughtful application and live interview they showed that they not only had a demonstrated need in their community for a program like Binti Shupavu, but they had already thought through ways they would want to localize the curriculum. With deep roots in their community, it was so clear to the Daring Girls / GLAMI grants committee that they were well positioned for successful implementation.
Selecting the Right Schools in Murang’a County
Girls in Murang’a County face myriad challenges. Alcohol and drug abuse is so prevalent in this community that the Kenyan government ordered a crisis intervention. Poverty levels are high and family breakups, often due to substance abuse, have left many girls either under the care of aging grandmothers, or without any female role model in their lives.
CWE-TECH partnered with two schools in Murang’a County: Mirichu Secondary School and Kaganda Secondary School. Both of these schools are day schools, and girls walk long distances to and from school each day. Many are taken advantage of by motorbike drivers who persuade girls to exchange their bodies for basic needs like rides to school, meals, or sanitary pads. Dropout rates at both schools are also very high.
Dr. Judy Makira, CWE-TECH Co-Founder and CEO, shared that they sampled a dozen schools in the area before committing to Mirichu and Kaganda. Their analysis had shown that these schools were performing poorly, there were a lot of dropouts due to family issues, and they learned that many girls were simply unfocused.
“We kept narrowing them down until we realized that these two schools needed us more than any other, and especially the girls,” said Dr. Makira in a recent Zoom conversation with Daring Girls supporters.
In April, CWE-TECH received in-person training and startup support from Daring Girls and GLAMI, and has been receiving regular online training and coaching since. They have been successfully implementing the Binti Shupavu program since May, receiving high praise from school principals who are already seeing girls find their voice and become more confident and from parents, who are also seeing positive changes in their daughters and their ability to schedule and manage their time and be more responsible at home.
(Pictured, left to right: GLAMI MEL Coordinator Aikande Muro, CWE-TECH Mentor Harriet Richman, CWE-TECH Mentor Ivy Nyambura, Daring Girls Program Consultant Devotha Mlay)
Binti Shupavu was developed for Tanzanian girls, and thus contains lessons and examples that are relevant in Tanzania, but not elsewhere. Working closely with the two mentors hired by CWE-TECH to work with girls in the two schools, Daring Girls and GLAMI have been contextualizing the Binti Shupavu curriculum to be more relevant to Kenyan girls in Murang’a County. The curriculum these girls receive includes examples and stories from Murang’a County or nearby areas. Cultural norms that are different between Tanzania and Kenya are discussed differently in the localized versions of the curriculum. An additional benefit to contextualizing the curriculum for this first group of girls participating in Binti Shupavu in Kenya has been the opportunity to elicit feedback directly from the girls. At the end of each lesson, girls are asked to provide feedback. They reflect with their mentor on what teachings were useful, which were not, and the girls share their ideas on how lessons can be strengthened in the future. Contextualization is an iterative process that will only continue to improve as the program progresses.
“When we saw the curriculum before the training started, we were wondering: this is very Tanzania, where does Kenya come in? Therefore, when the training took place, the two girls [GLAMI and Daring Girls trainers] were able to unpack that for us. And you are able to see that [the curriculum] is not cast in stone. The Binti Shupavu program is a program that fits in every context so long as you customize it to your area. So very quickly we were able to contextualize to our situation,” said Dr. Makira.
What Happens Next?
Daring Girls, GLAMI, and CWE-TECH couldn’t be more proud to work together to move this pilot forward. We will continue to work together to implement the first year of Binti Shupavu for Year 1 Scholars in Kaganda Secondary and Mirichu Secondary schools, and prepare to incorporate a new class of Year 1 Scholars in January, when this year’s current scholars move into Year 2 of the Binti Shupavu program in 2024.
Daring Girls and GLAMI, in partnership with CWE-TECH, are looking to add two more organizations implementing Binti Shupavu to this pilot program, pulled from the high-quality roster of applicants who applied earlier in the year. We hope to announce these two new partners in 2024.
These programs will only ever be as successful as our ability to fundraise for them, which is why we are actively seeking new institutional partners and individual donors who can help us continue to advance these impactful mentoring programs to reach even more girls in more places. If you’d like to join us in support of these efforts, please reach out at email@example.com.
And, please stay tuned! We have so much more to share about CWE-TECH, its dedicated and visionary co-founders, the caring mentors who are implementing Binti Shupavu in Kenya, and the Scholars who are already excited to share what they have learned in the program.
Follow CWE-TECH on Facebook.
(Pictured, left to right: CWE-TECH Co-Founder and CEO Dr. Judy Makira, CWE-TECH Mentor Harriet Richman, Daring Girls Executive Director Jessica Love, CWE-TECH Mentor Ivy Nyambura, CWE-TECH Co-Founder Eunice Owino)