HOW CAUSE CAPITALISM IS REDUCING INEQUALITIES 

Written by Thomas Kagwa

Through socioeconomic support of widows, cause capitalism partnerships to initiate actions to eradicate inequalities.

The Goat Foundation interacts with widows from impoverished communities across Kenya on a regular basis. From our observations, it is apparent that great economic disparities exist among members of Kenyan societies.

Looking objectively, we realize that outcomes of economic disempowerment lead to the loss of basic human rights, particularly for widows. It is for this reason that our efforts are focused on the provision and enablement of sustainable economic solutions for Kenyan widows.

It is a documented fact that historically, women faced social and economic disadvantages in African societies. It, therefore, portends a greater threat to their livelihood when women become widowed, especially as is common, while they are still relatively young.

A moral conundrum facing the world today is the abject poverty surrounding the lavish display of opulent wealth. This was so much that the Chinese nation banned social media influencers from airing wasteful food sampling episodes.

Many rich however feel justified to wallow in their excesses as was the case of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos who took a 90-minute flight to the edge of space at a cost of nearly $100 million while the world reeled in the midst of a pandemic and poor less than 5% of African populations had yet to afford the Covid 19 vaccine.

Eradicating poverty in all its forms and dimensions is an indispensable requirement for sustainable development. To this end, there must be the promotion of sustainable, inclusive, and equitable economic growth, creating greater opportunities for all, reducing inequalities, raising basic standards of living, fostering equitable social development and inclusion, and promoting integrated and sustainable management of natural resources and ecosystems.

To be fair, most well-to-do families contribute to charitable causes and are participants in various philanthropic endeavours.

However, as much as individual effort goes towards donations and funding noble cases, very little progress was made toward raising the living standards of the majority of the world’s population.

Evidence-based solutions such as the donation of two goats to widows provide sustainable solutions to poverty eradication.

There are two varieties of economic inequality, that is income inequality and wealth inequality. Besides economic inequality between countries or states, there are important types of economic inequality between different groups of people living in the same country.

In general, technological progress, commercialization, and economic development are factors leading to rises in inequality.

Another major cause of economic inequality within modern market economies is the determination of wages by the market. Where competition is imperfect, information is unevenly distributed. opportunities to acquire education and skills unequal, a market failure results. Since many such imperfect conditions exist in virtually every market, there is in fact little presumption that markets are in general efficient.

Faceless multinational corporations have moved to the least developing nations where regulations are lax.

Variation in individuals’ access to education is key to income inequality. Education, especially in an area where there is a high demand for workers, creates high wages for those with this education.

Whereas globalization has reduced global inequality between nations, it has increased inequality within nations. Globalization increases inequality by putting downward pressure on wages (due to competition from low-wage countries) and also by making it more difficult to tax capital, which further increases inequality.

Inequality leads to higher rates of health and social problems such as obesity, mental illness, homicides, teenage births, incarceration, child conflict, and drug use. Unequal societies experience lower rates of social goods such as life expectancy, educational performance, trust among strangers, women’s status, and social mobility.

An inverse link between income inequality and social cohesion. In more equal societies, people are much more likely to trust each other, and measures of social capital (the benefits of goodwill, fellowship, mutual sympathy, and social connectedness among groups who make up social units) suggest greater community involvement.

Oxfam asserts that worsening inequality is impeding the fight against global poverty. A 2013 report from the group stated that the $240 billion added to the fortunes of the world’s richest billionaires in 2012 was enough to end extreme poverty four times over. Oxfam Executive Director Jeremy Hobbs said that “We can no longer pretend that the creation of wealth for a few will inevitably benefit the many – too often the reverse is true.”

Political corruption, weak institutions, and legislative loopholes allow multinational companies to pollute areas around their operations in poor countries.

Greater income inequality can lead to monopolization of the labor force, resulting in fewer employers requiring fewer workers. Remaining employers can consolidate and take advantage of the relative lack of competition, leading to less consumer choice, market abuses, and relatively higher real prices.

When inequality is associated with political instability and social unrest, rent-seeking and distortive policies, lower capacities for investment in human capital, and a stagnant domestic market, it is mostly expected to harm long-run economic performance, as suggested by many authors.

Accordingly, improving income distribution is expected to foster long-run economic growth, especially in low-income countries where the levels of inequality are usually very high.

The challenge for policymakers is to control structural inequality, which reduces the country’s capacities for economic development, while at the same time keeping in place those positive incentives that are also necessary for growth.

The potential for improving the lives of poor people by finding different ways of distributing current production is nothing compared to the apparently limitless potential of increasing production.

A study by OECD makes a number of suggestions to its member countries, including:

  • Well-targeted income-support policies.
  • Facilitation and encouragement of access to employment.
  • Better job-related training and education for the low-skilled (on-the-job training) would help to boost their productivity potential and future earnings.
  • Better access to formal education.

Progressive taxation reduces absolute income inequality when the higher rates on higher-income individuals are paid and not evaded, and transfer payments and social safety nets result in progressive government spending.

Wage ratio legislation has also been proposed as a means of reducing income inequality. The OECD asserts that public spending is vital in reducing the ever-expanding wealth gap.

Deferred investment programs that increase stock ownership amongst lower income levels can supplement income to compensate for wage stagnation.

Economic inequality leads to political inequality and the beneficiaries of the economic system that gave rise to this inequality are unlikely to implement correction mechanisms.

 

GUARANTEEING ECONOMIC SUSTAINABILITY FOR WIDOWS’ HOUSEHOLDS

Written by Thomas Kagwa

Supporting widows to gain sustainable income contributes to inclusive and more sustainable economic growth.

It is well established that a wide range of legal impediments in countries’ domestic laws has prevented minority groups such as widows from achieving full economic empowerment, which in turn has negative macroeconomic implications.

In many countries, laws often reflect and perpetuate mismatched social norms that limit widows’ economic participation, and removal of these impediments through legal reform has been shown to be an effective method to catalyze greater participation of women in the economy—along with the related macroeconomic benefits. 

Once legal barriers are removed and provisions for more equal treatment under the law are embedded, the law can also be employed as a powerful tool to incentivize widows to pursue equal opportunities, change mindsets regarding the role of widows, and hold institutions and individuals accountable for achieving results. 

Accordingly, it is imperative for countries to focus on eliminating existing legal impediments and designing appropriate incentives to increase widows’ participation in the economy.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is concerned about widows’ economic empowerment 

because of its relevance to macroeconomic and financial stability and helping member countries 

to achieve inclusive and more sustainable economic growth. 

Empowering widows to reach their full economic potential, not only tangibly supports the key goal of reducing social inequality, but also, has tremendous significance on the advancement, competitiveness, and future readiness of economies worldwide. 

In this regard, empirical evidence shows that widows’ economic empowerment and the closing of gender gaps in key areas are associated with positive macroeconomic outcomes, including higher economic growth, lower inequality, increased productivity, better financial sector outcomes, and greater financial stability. 

Conversely, the economic disempowerment of widows, gaps in access to education, health, and financial services, and legal barriers to widows’ economic participation can all negatively impact macroeconomic and financial stability and countries’ ability to achieve strong and sustainable economic growth. 

For example, it is estimated that global GDP could increase by US$12 trillion by 2025 through 

reducing social discrimination based on perceptual biases and promoting minorities’ rights such as widows’ economic empowerment, equitable participation in the workforce, or presence in leadership positions. 

Similarly, implementing policy reforms to increase inclusivity, hence equity in the labour force would increase growth in the US by 5%, in Japan by 9%, in the UAE by 12%, and in Egypt by 34%. 

Other macroeconomic impacts of greater widows’ economic empowerment have also been identified. However, despite momentous strides toward improved educational and employment opportunities for widows, social gaps persist, and legal barriers remain. 

Furthermore, the recent impact of COVID-19 threatens to widen the economic gap throughout the world, as widows are disproportionately affected by the economic and social consequences of the pandemic.

Widows are more heavily impacted by the pandemic for a number of reasons: 

(i) they are more likely to work in social sectors that require face-to-face interactions with people who still have biases based on erroneous stereotypes; 

(ii) they are more likely to be employed in the informal sector, which is not covered under most labour laws;

(iii) widows do more unpaid household work than their married counterparts and as a result, bear the brunt of the impact of the shutdown on families; and 

(iv) widows’ children are more likely to drop out of school to help supplement household income lost due to COVID-19.

In addition, there are concerns that the Covid-19 pandemic delayed the inclusivity reforms, including in relation to repealing gender discriminatory laws and the enactment of new laws necessary for social equality reform.

It is widely accepted that widows have no inherent limitations to assuming the same roles as other men and women. However, history, dominant belief systems, and cultural norms have often subjected widows to normal and informal constraints that have become enshrined in countries’ legal frameworks to varying degrees. 

Since laws can incentivize changes in behaviour, legal reforms supportive of social equity can help change cultural biases against widows and promote equality.

Eliminating bias against widows and discrimination in the law is only the first step, but this alone is not enough. In addition, legal reform should also incentivize widows to participate in the economy and encourage employers to hire widows in competitive roles. 

This includes implementing laws that protect widows from discrimination in the workplace due to stigma and cultural beliefs, and which promote a higher presence of widows in leadership roles. In addition, resources should be allocated via policy reforms that make it easier for widows to enter and stay in the workforce, such as counselling services, social-support infrastructure, etc. 

Ultimately, social inclusivity and equity-driven policies on all levels would transform social relations and reform existing structures that cause discrimination.

 

PROMOTING WIDOW’S ACCESS TO  DECENT WORK AND ECONOMIC GROWTH

Written by Thomas Kagwa

Widows need support to be able to provide for themselves and contribute to economic growth.

A society is as strong as its weakest members. Widows are universally recognized as one of the minority groups vulnerable to economic shocks and social disempowerment. Boosting widows’ economic empowerment is key to achieving social justice, but pervasive social norms and discrimination continue to keep widows from accessing and thriving in the workforce. 

Widows are less likely to work than any other women demographic, and their participation in the labour force is limited in developing and developing economies alike. 

Existing laws already restrict 2.7 billion women from having the same jobs as men globally, and given the lower social strata that widows fall in, it only gets worse for them. In 2018, 18 economies still allowed husbands to approve their wives to work, meaning, widows whose husbands died face an even steeper uphill task. What’s more, 104 countries have not passed comprehensive laws guaranteeing widows’ economic opportunities. 

Widows’ economic empowerment helps them gain the skills, resources, and opportunities to participate equally in markets and to control and benefit from their earnings. It is known that social equity that allows for the full economic participation of widows in economic activities helps businesses perform better and supports economic growth overall. 

We must ensure widows are equipped to participate in the economy fully. Widows are less likely to have formal bank accounts and take out loans. Even when widows do have their own accounts, their in-laws might still make the decisions about how their funds are used. Widows also often lack access to other financial services like savings and insurance due to a lack of financial education. In some countries, widows aren’t allowed to own the property of their late husbands without the patronage and permission of their in-laws.

Resources like credit access and bank accounts can help create economic opportunities for widows. Financial literacy programs, reforming laws that allow widows to access collateral and apply for loans, improving widow-disaggregated data, and promoting the development of digital payment systems can all help promote widows’ financial inclusion. 

Society must enforce policies and social protection systems for widows. Widows are less likely to have access to social protections like inheritance, the right to healthcare, social housing schemes, and unemployment benefits. In Africa on average, widows earn 60% to 75% less than what they used to while their husbands were alive. Closing this blatant pay gap is crucial to levelling the playing field. 

For widows that can’t afford to miss work to care for their families, childcare is a game-changer. Flexible work arrangements benefit workers with children regardless of gender to balance the domestic labour burden more fairly. Providing child care and free primary education leave would especially benefit poor widows. A 2% investment in child care in any economy generates a 6% growth in the economy. 

Unpaid care work includes household duties such as cooking, cleaning, water, and fuel collection, child care, or elder care often carried out by women. It is estimated that 16 billion hours are spent on unpaid care work every day. Unpaid care and domestic work contribute to countries’ economies substantially but aren’t seen as real work. 

The total value of unpaid care and domestic work is estimated to be between 10% and 39% of the gross domestic product. Counting unpaid care work in statistics, acknowledging its place in the economy, compensating women for their contributions, and considering unpaid care work when making policy decisions can lessen the burden on women and girls. 

Invest in widows’ organizations and businesses. Grassroots widows’ organizations and movements are underfunded and under attack around the world. Nearly 70% of widow-owned small and medium-sized enterprises in developing countries are financially unserved or underserved. 

Widows are also less likely to be entrepreneurs and encounter more obstacles when trying to start a business. Widows’ organizations are supporting initiatives to reduce inequality and increase opportunities for their communities but can’t continue to do so without funding. 

Investing in widows’ ventures helps pave the way for the next generation as widows will spend 80% of their income on their family’s well-being and education.

Widows are more likely to be employed in the informal labour force and are overrepresented in domestic work in rural areas that lack protection and living wages. Widows must receive equal access to education, training, new skills, new technologies, management positions, benefits, and entrepreneurship. 

Workplaces also need to be free of explicit bias, sexual harassment, and violence, safe, up to health standards and promote equal pay. When widows have more employment and leadership opportunities, this type of inclusivity attracts goodwill, and businesses grow and be more effective. 

 

A group of women seated under a tent looking at two women standing in front of them.

THE STRUGGLE OF A WIDOW AGAINST DOGMA  AND STIGMATIZATION

Written by Thomas Kagwa

A group of women seated under a tent looking at two women standing in front of them.

Widows celebrating during the 7th Goat Foundation Cause giveback.

Joyce (not her real name) is a widow from Kilifi, Kenya. She supports a household of 12, both children and grandchildren, despite the limited economic opportunities in the Coast region that reflect the ongoing crises and prevalent gender inequality. Joyce is just one of the millions of widows around the world who struggle to claim their equal human rights after the loss of a husband; an event that can lead to enduring poverty for women and their families.

Although accurate information is limited, it has been estimated that there are some 285 million widows around the world, with over 115 million of them living in deep poverty. Data on women’s status are often not disaggregated by marital status, so at every level of gender statistics, from national to global, widows are not visible. Yet we know that many elderly widows face multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination, based on their gender, age, rural location, or disability. Others are still young when they lose their husbands, perhaps as a result of conflict or because they were married as children to a much older man. These women face a long lifetime of widowhood.

Along with the shock of losing a spouse, the situation for widows is often compounded by stigma and social isolation. In many countries, widows have been stripped of their rights to assets such as land, income, and property. Without access to social protection, they face destitution.

According to the World Bank Group’s Women, Business and the Law 2021 report, out of 173 countries, 90 per cent have at least one law limiting women’s economic participation, including constraints on their ability to inherit or own land. Repealing these discriminatory laws is not only ethical, but it is also a mandate of the Sustainable Development Goals. The first target of Goal 5 is to ”end all forms of discrimination against all women and girls everywhere” with a further target specifying the need to “undertake reforms to give women equal rights to economic resources, as well as access to ownership and control over land and other forms of property, financial services, inheritance, and other natural resources, in accordance with national laws.” Action on these could impact the lives of millions of widows who are currently dependent on their husbands for their livelihoods.

Joyce was able to improve her situation, thanks to a project supported by The Goat Foundation for widows that trained her in financial skills, and included her among a group that received a donation of a pair of goats. Through this group,  saved enough money to start two micro-enterprises. With these new ventures—selling slippers and breeding goats—she has established her independence, growing her business, and supported her family.

The Goat Foundation is committed to working with communities around Kenya and Africa, and with like-minded civil societies on ensuring the human rights of widows. This includes providing widows with information on access to a fair share of their inheritance, land, and productive resources; pensions and social protection that are not based on marital status alone; decent work and equal pay; and education and training opportunities.

Widows must be empowered to support themselves and their families. This also means addressing social stigmas that create exclusion, and discriminatory or harmful practices, such as those in the DRC, where a widow can be required to undergo a period of isolation and imprisonment, purification ceremonies to “cut the link” with her deceased husband, and pressed to remarry.

 

This year’s UN High-Level Political Forum took place in July with a focus on “Eradicating poverty and promoting prosperity in a changing world“. It provided an important opportunity to highlight and act on the connection between widowhood and poverty, as well as on the paucity of quality, sex-disaggregated data about widows and their lives.

The Sustainable Development Goals call on all of us to include those who are at risk of being left behind. Widows have inviolable rights that are not dependent on anyone else; they must be able to enjoy those rights. Let us work to ensure that, just like Joyce, all widows have the opportunity to build a new life after a personal loss.

 

The 7th Goat Giveback: A group of women standing together each holding leashes to 2 pairs of goats.

THE NOVEMBER 9TH GIVE-BACK CEREMONY

Written By Thomas Kagwa

The 7th Goat Giveback: A group of women standing together each holding leashes to 2 pairs of goats.

Beneficiaries of the 7th Goat Foundation Giveback in Mariakani, Kilifi County, Kenya.

Under the sweltering heat of the afternoon sun on the Kenyan coast, an eager crowd gathers outside a church. Most community meetings take place here. However today, they are here for a different kind of engagement. The congregants were selected for a relief program by a philanthropic organization known as The Goat foundation. The founder of this pioneering venture is due to arrive shortly and tension is palpable. Times have been hard of late, and as the drought persists most villagers are facing starvation and malnutrition. Assistance in whatever form is literally a lifesaver. From a distance, a dusty convoy of three cars snakes its way slowly toward the village. Two pick-up trucks and a Toyota LandCruiser come to a halt outside the church. The crowd surges forward. Steve Down, the Founder, and CEO of The Goat Foundation steps out of the Toyota four-wheel-drive vehicle and walks purposefully toward church elders and a raft of community leaders. Mr. Steve Down realizes the crucial role played by these leaders. Local leaders help identify the most vulnerable members in need of immediate help. The waiting list for recipients is usually long and logistical planning and organization play a crucial role in the success of this project. Mr. Down exchanges greetings with most of the assembled crowd while nearby at a  makeshift stand some officials from his organization are busy sorting out the names of the beneficiaries of this program. 

Each family receives a male and a female goat, that hopefully will procreate and enlarge the herd while providing milk for drinking. These goats have been sourced from businessmen within the community. This ensures that the project benefits both the recipients and local businesses. Mr. Steve Down smiles and chats with the locals, feeling quite at home in a remote village thousands of miles from his hometown in Utah USA. 

The 7th Giveback: A white man standing, greeting an old woman amongst a group of women standing infront of him

The Goat FOundation Founder, Steve Down greeted one of the widows joyful to be part of the beneficiaries in the giveback.

His affability and charisma are infectious, and you are left with little doubt that Mr. Down holds a deep conviction about his purpose here. 

A member of his staff is scheduled to conduct a brief financial literacy class. Most recipients of these donations need training on how to utilize the animals they receive in wealth creation. This is one of Mr. Down’s proudest achievements. Whenever he comes back to visit a previous recipient of his donations, he is always amazed at the transformative improvement in the fortunes of those who made the effort to apply his financial literacy skills.   

Steve is also the founder and CEO of Financially Fit, a for-profit company in the Finance Education industry that offers financial literacy through personal wealth education. As a Cause Capitalist, he founded The Goat foundation, through which he donates 1% of Financially Fit’s earnings towards poverty alleviation by donating goats to the needy in society. 

Today Steve is witnessing the fruition of his vision created under the Cause Capitalism philosophy. The philosophy surrounding this concept blends philanthropy, entrepreneurial spirit, corporate social responsibility, and capitalism ideals into a mission whose purpose is to help the less fortunate members living in the surrounding community where his business was located. with a deep sense of purpose. Simply put, Cause Capitalism is where a for-profit business company agrees to partner with a non-profit organization and donates a percentage of its gross sales to the non-profit. 

Soon crowds begin to gather as other villagers noticed the presence of visitors. Every eye turns towards him. Apparently, they expect him to give a speech. Well, this was unplanned, Steve chuckles to himself as he turns to the church Reverend sitting on his right. The deeply lined face of the priest nods in a smile urging him to speak to the crowd.

Steve is aware that a lot still needs to be done, and as he walks back towards his vehicle to depart, his normally serene features harden in a steely determination with another resolve to help more people. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CAST OUT BY CUSTOM – A WIDOW’S TRIUMPH OVER CUSTOMARY LAW

A woman peeking through the window of a clay house balancing a basket and headwrap on her head

The Goat Foundation has been at the forefront of highlighting widows’ triumph over adversity and circumstance. It is always hopeful and delightful whenever we encounter a case where communities work together to help one of their own emerge from debilitating conditions. Such a case was that of Mary through whom it was demonstrated that retrogressive customs and traditional laws that discriminate against widows could be overcome.

Mary had been married to her husband for ten years before he was diagnosed with cancer. At the time, she and her family did not have enough money to transport him to a reputable hospital for treatment. John died just a few weeks after his doctor confirmed that his cancer had progressed to stage 4.

Shortly after her husband’s death, Mary’s life quickly became unbearable. Things became difficult. She couldn’t send her children to school or feed them. Everything she and her late husband had spent years building was now under threat of being taken away. In their customary law, women were not allowed to inherit from the estates of their deceased husbands. To enforce that, they harassed her and ordered her to vacate the property where she and her husband had lived for nearly ten years.

She endured the suffering until she learned that a local Kilifi town community-based non-profit organization that looks after the plight of widows could assist her with her case. She showed up there, and the organization assisted her in getting legal representation, which resulted in a favourable ruling that allowed her to stay and raise her children in the home where they had been living with her late husband.

The court’s decision reprieved Mary as it gave her and her kids a place to live and call home. Soon after, the organization organized training on business skills so she could slowly rebuild her life, provide for her family, and send her kids to school.

With her small savings, the training, and the enablement she received from the organization, Mary opened a small shop that sold household items to the community. Using the business skills that she had learnt; she was able to grow the business to the point that it could feed her children and pay for their school fees

Many women, like Mary, experience the same fate following the passing of their husbands. Most of the land is typically owned by men. Most traditional families do not write wills, and in the event of a man’s passing, all land and property are reclaimed by the male relatives, mainly brothers and uncles rather than their wives or children

The help that Mary received from the charity organization, went a long way in reviving the hopes she had of taking care of her family. It ensured that there was no hunger and that her children attained the highest form of education. The training she got to start her business will help her grow and flourish in business and ensure that there is no poverty in her household.

The Goat Foundation remains at the forefront in championing for widows’ rights and looks forward to the day when widows will be regarded as equal family members and therefore achieve the Sustainable Development Goals for social and economic justice for women. We are continually expanding our partnerships and associations throughout Africa and with the help of our partners, we believe we will transform the lives of millions of widows.

THE KILIFI GIVEBACK

A woman greeting a man while holding a pair of goats by their leash

A beneficiary of The Goat Foundation giveback in Majajani village, Kilifi County Kenya, greets Founder Steve Down

The Goat Foundation was started with a vision of reaching out to the most vulnerable families across rural Kenya. The founder, Steve Down, met a family at one of the funerals he attended during his first visit to Kenya. The woman who continues to propagate this vision was widowed and left with 4 children.  She only had a vegetable garden that she thought would sustain her young family. 

Steve Down learnt that goat farming was one of the climate-smart methods of agriculture that people living in ASALS were fast embracing. He took it upon himself to help this family by donating 2 goats (a he-goat and a she-goat.) 

This inspired his vision of ensuring no family lacks basic resources or goes to bed hopeless. 

So far, The Goat Foundation has donated 850 goats across Kenya and empowered 500 households through the cause initiative. Recipient families are asked to donate the firstborn goat from each pair to the next village family in need. This could provide perpetual giving of goats and nutrition. 

Our vision is in alignment with Sustainable Development Goals 1,2,&5. (No poverty, No hunger and Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls). We envision a hunger-free Africa where its most marginalized populations have a chance at wealth creation. 

The issue- What we are solving? 

  1. Poverty- to ensure widows earn a sustainable income through climate-smart agriculture
  2. Hunger- to ensure no widows and their beneficiaries go to bed hungry. 
  3. Injustice- to create awareness of the tribulations faced by widows and ensure their rights are withheld.  

Our Cause Capitalism Philosophy.

A man with many microphones held in front of him

Founder of The Goat Foundation, Steve Down Addressing the press during the goat giveback

Cause Capitalism according to Steve Down is when a for-profit company partners with a nonprofit, not as a gimmick but as a true sustainable partner. 

We believe that for-profit companies should ensure sustainability around the communities they operate in, to promote economic inclusion. 

Companies have to ensure people benefit positively from their creations. That is why we advocate for For-profit and non-profit partnerships. 

Non-profits address global issues by reaching out directly to vulnerable groups. They educate, enable and empower them. This can only be possible if they have financial access to ensure this happens. 

Therefore, we call on more stakeholders to join our cause capitalism initiative and make the world a better place. 

 

The 200 Goat Donation. 

Financially Fit through The Goat Foundation will donate 200 goats to 100 low-income households in Mariakani, Kilifi County. We work through partnerships with like-minded institutions and strongly believe in the power of the media to amplify the impact of climate change on low-income households fully dependent on agriculture and call for mitigation across all sectors. For this reason, we invite you to witness the impactful donation from The Goat Foundation. 

We look forward to hosting you on the 8th of November 2022. 

 

HOW ADULT EDUCATION IS EMPOWERING WIDOWS IN RURAL KENYA IN THEIR EFFORT TO OVERCOME MARGINALIZATION

A bolack woman wi

TGF October newsletter – Empowering Widows with education to overcome marginalization.

The Goat Foundation has taken note of how the Kenya Adult Learners’ Association (KALA) plays an important role in promoting micro-enterprises and advancement in the informal business sector as a way of alleviating widows’ unemployment and high rural poverty in Kenya. We are cognizant of the fact that helping widows in the pursuit of socio-economic emancipation is a multi-pronged approach that requires the input of many stakeholders. 

 

The World Bank states that strong job growth is only possible with the legitimization of the informal business sector, which can increase household productivity. Accordingly, the Economic Empowerment Programme implemented by KALA tackles the vulnerability of farmers to climatic conditions – a serious challenge to development in rural Kenya – by equipping widows with skills which allow them to engage in other income-generating activities besides farming.

By focusing on widows in rural areas as a target group, KALA’s literacy programme addresses some of the country’s major problems: educational shortcomings, poverty, unemployment and social marginalization.

 

The Economic Empowerment and Functional Adult Literacy Programme has been implemented by the Kenya Adult Learners’ Association (KALA) in various rural areas of Kenya. The programme aims to provide hands-on training to economically empower widows by equipping them with basic literacy and functional skills. Economic empowerment refers to entrepreneurship and management training, which enables the target group to pursue income-generating activities. Such activities lead to important supplementary income, thereby reducing the dependency of households on income from weather-dependent activities such as farming.

Aims and Objectives:

  • Improve the lives of widows through functional literacy by increasing the enrolment of learners in literacy classes;
  • Facilitate entrepreneurship and management training for widows and facilitators;
  • Improve networking and sharing of experiences among groups/members through peer learning exchange programmes;
  • Initiate a capital savings grant to widow groups;
  • Provide learning and teaching materials for the literacy classes; and
  • Monitor and supervise small businesses and literacy classes.

 

The first area is the empowerment of widows’ groups through the application of economic and literacy skills (functional adult literacy).

The second aspect is based on developing economic literacy skills where adult learners acquire reading, writing and arithmetic skills, while KALA integrates supplementary entrepreneurship and management training outside the traditional reading and writing context.

The third component of the KALA literacy programme is a supplementary kitchen-garden programme, which is meant to improve widows’ knowledge of agricultural production and food provision. In addition to contributing to widow’s empowerment, the kitchen-garden programme has domestic importance, as women are the main providers of food at the household level. Due to unpredictable weather patterns, subsistence farming cannot always guarantee a sufficient food supply, or indeed a surplus income. Issues of poverty and hunger in rural areas are therefore alleviated through the kitchen-garden project.

 

The fourth aspect focuses on health. In order to improve health conditions in rural areas, the KALA literacy programme includes primary health education, as well as information on HIV and AIDS control, prevention and care. Widows also learn about the care of orphans and vulnerable children, enabling them to provide children with basic health care services.

The empowerment of widows through literacy has meant that they have become more actively engaged in decision-making at the household level, and widows can pursue and advocate their own interests. One impact of the programme has been the alleviation of women’s marginalization within society, as improved literacy has given widows’ a greater level of social, economic and political status.

ADVANCING WIDOW’S RIGHTS TO LAND AND NATURAL RESOURCES THROUGH AFFIRMATIVE ACTION

A group of people smiling standing next to a woman holding a goat by its leash

Widows have a right to own property

Over the last decade, Kenya has taken some steps to promote fairness and secure women’s rights within the institution of marriage. The promulgation of the progressive 2010 Constitution and the enactment of the Matrimonial Property Act of 2013 (‘MPA’) have been significant steps in the right direction. The act abolished the unconstitutional marital powers of the husband and placed husbands and wives on equal footing. Men and women who are married in civil marriages in community of property must now consult each other on all important financial transactions, as equal partners. 

Before the Act was passed, the common law concept of “marital power” gave the husband the right to control the joint estate. Even though half of everything belonged to the wife, the husband had the authority to administer the estate on behalf of the couple.

Section 5 gives equal power to spouses married in community of property: to dispose of the assets of the joint estate; to contract debts for which the joint estate is liable; to administer the joint estate.

Section 6 states that “a spouse married in community of property may perform any juristic act with regard to the joint estate without the consent of the other spouse”. 

Provides women married in a community of property equal access to bank loans and ownership of property without the consent of their partner.  

Makes the age of consent for entry into civil marriage 18 years for both sexes, and provides that men and women are equal before the law.

Provides that immovable property, such as a communal house, must be registered in both spouses’ names. The sale of such property has to be approved by both parties. Likewise, the act provides for equal guardianship over minor children of the marriage.

When a marriage in community of property ends, any liabilities are settled out of the joint estate. If the marriage ended in divorce, the remainder of the estate is normally divided equally between the spouses. 

If the marriage ended due to the death of one spouse, the surviving spouse keeps his or her own half-share and the deceased spouse’s half-share is distributed in terms of the law of succession or intestacy.

 

In marriages out of community of property, the assets and debts of the husband and wife remain separate. Ownership of property remains with the person who acquired it. If the marriage ends, each spouse retains his or her own separate belongings.

The Act also makes it clear that both husbands and wives in marriages out of community of property bear responsibility for making contributions to household necessities in proportion to their resources. Both spouses are jointly and severally liable to third parties for all debts incurred by either of them for necessities for the joint household. A spouse who has contributed more than his or her fair share for such necessities has a right of recourse against the other spouse.

Couples who have entered into antenuptial agreements sometimes use a variation of community of property known as the “accrual system”.

In this system, the property owned by the husband and the wife before the marriage remains their separate property, and property acquired during the marriage is administered as separate property. When the marriage comes to an end, husband and wife share equally all of the property and assets that were added to the household during the marriage. There is no sharing of losses, only of profits.

CASE STUDY – KNOWLEDGE OF SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE BEING USED TO EMPOWER WIDOWS IN KITUI COUNTY, KENYA

Woman dressed in green overall and boots bent picking plants on a farm

Sustainable agriculture is empowering widows in Kitui County, Kenya

Widows are a vulnerable demographic lacking in economic means, social capital and means to protect their individual rights. In recognition of their unique status as societal pariahs, community-based organizations in Kitui County came together and brainstormed ideas for creating sustainable livelihoods for widows living amongst them. Earlier on, it was evident that sustainable agriculture would be transformative and practical. It was a consensus that through a communal collaborative effort, widows could grow crops and raise livestock to guarantee them a source of food and income. 

Sustainable agricultural practices were intended to protect the environment, expand the natural resource base, and maintain and improve soil fertility in areas where it was practised. Based on a multi-pronged goal, sustainable agriculture was chosen as it increased profitability, and income, and promoted environmental stewardship.

Kitui region is located in the Arid and Semi-arid region of Kenya that receives little rainfall which is often sporadic. 

Among the activities undertaken were:

  • Rotating crops and embracing diversity.
  • Planting cover crops and perennials.
  • Reducing or eliminating tillage. 
  • Applying integrated pest management (IPM). 
  • Integrating livestock and crops. 
  • Adopting agroforestry practices. 
  • Managing whole systems and landscapes.

It should be understood that these widows were women previously displaced from their matrimonial homes, and they lacked the technical skill of utilizing scanty ecological resources to practice agriculture.

The introduction of this activity was therefore revolutionary in a sense. Previously destitute mothers could now look forward to harvesting their crops and selling them at local markets. The proceeds from this would then be used to pay for their children’s school fees, rent living quarters and purchase dignified clothes. The resultant social effect was the emergence of a class of empowered widows, who no longer looked at society with a bowl in hand, begging for sustenance. 

As a sustainable agricultural practice, the resulting effect was;

  • Increase in productivity, employment and value addition in food systems.
  • Protection and enhancement of natural resources.
  • Improved livelihoods that fostered inclusive economic growth.
  • Enhanced resilience of widows, whose socioeconomic ecosystem could withstand different economic shocks.
  • Adapt governance to new challenges especially as widows acquired social capital and economic power, they were able to hire legal aid to advocate for and speak for their rights.

The example of how widows were rescued from the throes of poverty and propelled to a life of hope and dignity is what the goat foundation aspires to and continues doing across the country. Scores of women have received a pair of goats from this foundation and the socioeconomic outcome has been similar. At the Goat Foundation, we felt encouraged to observe how different aspects of the Sustainable Development Goals were being attained by the simple act of communal cooperation, training and inculcation of relevant skills. It is for this reason that our foundation not only offers a pair of goats to widows, but we also provide crucial financial literacy training that ensures these women can start to grow their financial base through making informed decisions.