A section of the Kenyan capital Nairobi will be awash with the colour pink as the 2013 Serious Request events take place. Under the shadow of one of the city’s landmarks, the message of girls’ empowerment will be trumpeted through the airwaves of partner station Ghetto Radio, and through music, dance and spectacle.
This will be the sixth time the event is being held, with the buzz word on the streets being ‘Supadada’, which is ‘Super sister’ in Kiswahili. The event is entirely devoted to the situation of young girls and young women, and has seen the creation of a heroine figure to champion this year’s campaign. Supadada, the mascot, is meant to remind society that more attention must be given to the issues faced by young Kenyan girls, namely, violence, rape and teen pregnancy.
“Young women and girls are disproportionately affected by lack of opportunities, knowledge and skills to empower themselves. One way of ensuring that girls get education, skills and training is to support programmes working with girls and women to enable them to access opportunities that are available across sectors. Hivos wants to contribute towards making this happen, hence Supadada,” says Nyambura Gathumbi, Hivos East Africa Programme Officer for Rights & Citizenship.
To add gravitas to this year’s event, from 19-24 November three female presenters from Ghetto Radio are locking themselves up in a glass house in Nairobi without food. The three radio jocks will play requests from early morning until late into the night for not only their live audience, but for their regular on-air listeners. Dutch deejay Giel Beelen will be in daily contact with the Kenyan deejays from his glass house in Leeuwarden, where the Dutch Serious Request is also being held.
During the event, attention will be paid to the specific problems of girls and young women, and comprehensive sexuality education materials will be made available. Seven of Hivos’ partners will also be taking part in the event as studio guests.
“This initiative is about empowering Kenyan girls and we are proud to be at the forefront of that. We want to talk about dignity, confidence and unlocking the potential of our girls,” says Maria Mbeneka, Ghetto Radio’s chairperson.
Hivos is a sponsor of Serious Request Nairobi and has worked with Ghetto Radio for several years. Ghetto Radio is one of Nairobi’s most popular stations thanks to its large youth following drawn to the station’s music and the use of colloquial language, Sheng, a combination of English and Kishwahili.
Ghetto Radio has also built a reputation for itself as a station that fights for freedom of the press, freedom of speech, and is a frontrunner when it comes to the rights of women and other vulnerable groups in society.