Economic empowerment for women through accountability and transparency activities
The use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) to empower women to demand for accountability and transparency at grass root level has been used to explore avenues for socio-economic empowerment. The study aimed at addressing the following (a) To what extent are citizens in the selected districts participating in planning processes and to what extent are citizens exercising their human rights to demand for accountability and transparency from duty bearers; (b) how responsive are duty bearers’ to community concerns over public service delivery; (c) to what extent are ICT being used in the engagement process between duty bearers and citizens; (d) To what extent is the current women’s socio-economic capacity impacting on their ability to participate in democratic governance. Through a multi-dimensional mixed research a participatory action research was used through focus group discussions, key informant interviews and survey. A total 162 respondents 108 female (67%) and 54 male (33%): 120 were Voluntary Social Accountability Committees (VSAC) and 30 Bearers (DB) from 12 sub counties across the six districts. For each of the 12 sub-counties, each sub county had a minimum of 12 respondents. A total of 108 female and 54 are men are aware of their human rights where 13% of them engage with duty bearers in procurement process of community projects. However, 24% indicated they participate in monitoring both government and CSOs service delivery projects and only 18% indicated they attend the community Barrazas. There is minimal observance of democratic principles of governance by the duty bearers as indicated by 39% of all respondents who said that duty bearers are not responsive to citizens’ concerns. In terms of the socio-economic perspective; males earn three times more than the women whose income is from agricultural produce. 86% of the VSAC depend on their own gardens for food; 21% buy food from the shop, 58% sell food and 50% of the respondents; sell livestock to earn a living. In terms of access to leadership positions and decision making by women, 40% of them are at LC3 level and 90% of them participating
in government planning processes compared to 65% of women not holding any leadership positions. At least 69% of both VSAC and duty bearers noted that less citizen participation in the planning processes is due to a number of factors including; failure by leaders to invite or inform the community in time, limited access to information about community programmes, family obligations and work commitments. 80% of the women said there was need to attend to domestic work, 40% limited access to information and distance and 30% needed spouse permission to attend public functions. It was noted that 36% of all respondents owned at least a mobile phone, radio, TV, Computer and camera where 91% of men have more ownership of ICT compared to women at 78%. The ICTs were mainly used to engage others in community meetings (67%), council meetings (45%) and representative meetings (31%). Engagement through ICTs stood at 37% for radio, 37% for cell phones and 16% for print media. It is therefore recommended that;
- Men should participate more in economic activities to clearly appreciate the empowerment of women.
- There is need for more awareness activities in the community through partnership with community based organizations like
churches, schools as well as government agencies.
- The need to design capacity building interventions for duty bearers at all levels in order to enable them appreciate and engage
more with empowered citizens.
- Various social media platforms like WhatsApp should be considered for more productive engagements.