Nyambura Gathumbi, Hivos East Africa’s Programme Manager for Women’s Empowerment, prides herself on being a feminist. Having worked in the women’s rights sphere for almost 10 years now, she has seen the struggles that women have had to endure over the years, and this she notes is what drives her every day to make things better for the next generation. She simply states, ‘’ Women can no longer be overlooked.’’
‘’I am a feminist and activist who is passionate about women’s rights. I have been in the women’s rights movement since I was a student in University. My elder sister introduced me to the field where I developed an interest for rights and for people’s voices to be heard. I believe that women have struggled a lot to be heard, and the contribution they can make in society has been overlooked. This struggle has enlightened me as a person to be respectful of women’s rights and their potential.
What inspires me every day when I wake up is to make a difference in a world that will finally see women respected, with equal opportunities, raising their children in a safe environment and flourishing. Women struggle even for the most basic things which they shouldn’t have to demand. My biggest desire is to see women live to their fullest potential.
As a feminist, I have gotten a lot of pushback in the domain where I work. It’s always interesting that the moment you introduce yourself as a feminist, there’s a negative attitude towards you. Women are still demonised and play second fiddle, especially in a patriarchal culture that continues to subjugate them.
Since I began working for Hivos East Africa, I have been privileged to work at the heart of communities whose rights have been undermined. Hivos East Africa has a track record of going beyond the norm and working with fierce change makers such as human rights defenders, feminists and progressive journalists. Working with these groups has enabled me to gain knowledge and experience in defending human rights, especially in the era of shrinking civic spaces.
10 years from now, I see the women’s movement being stronger than it is currently. I believe our current struggles will enable us to re-strategise and better position ourselves. A lot of mentorship programmes for girls and young women are mushrooming, giving them opportunities to amplify their voices and participate in society. I happen to be a mentor at Akili Dada, empowering girls through training and skills development. These girls are now a shining light in their communities and have courage to face the world. This gives me so much confidence that there is hope for the next generation.’’