St Giles Women’s Day

This International Women’s Day - 8th March – gave me pause for reflection. I was in the wonderful city of Nairobi and was privileged enough to spend the day with some amazing girls from a Nairobi slum who have managed to defy the odds.

The girls, who include Faith, Rovina and Charity - were a real inspiration. They are all from one of the biggest and poorest slums in Nairobi, Kibera, and who through educational opportunity and a little financial help have managed to transform their prospects for climbing out of the poverty.

The girls attend the high achieving Moi Girls School in Nairobi – a national secondary boarding school - which sits at the edge of Kibera but only a miniscule proportion of girls attending the school actually come from Kibera. Most Kibera households cannot afford the school fees required for completing secondary schools leading to an unacceptable number of girls dropping out of secondary school. In many ways, these girls have achieved the unachievable. Despite being born into extreme poverty and hardship - nearly all are from single headed households - these girls are doing really well academically. They are confident, highly articulate and intelligent. Already at the age of 15, they consider themselves as social champions within their community and are inspiring other girls from their neighbourhoods to aspire to a good education and a successful professional future. Behind good schools are good teachers and leaders. I was lucky enough to meet with the school’s inspirational Deputy Head who was a strong champion of the need to instil her girls with self-belief.

So what has helped these girls’ achievement? Well, the girls are part of a UK government programme which is targeting 6000 girls in Kenya (AGI-K) aimed at empowering girls and looking at how intervening in early adolescence impact girls’ life chances. The girls whom I am pictured with have all received intensive life skills training together with a small cash transfer. With the cash transfers, the girls have been able to pay for their school fees, get a great education and real aspiration to do well and help others in hardship.

Days like International Women’s Days help remind me that impossible is sometimes possible and how with the right interventions we can really change the lives of girls around the world. As always, the challenge now is how to make sure that all girls – especially those from vulnerable and marginalised households as well as those living with disabilities – have access to the same opportunities.

Valerie Ward - Faith and Justice Spokesperson



Faith and Justice Spokesperson

I am delighted to say that Andrew and Valerie Ward have kindly agreed to take on this important role.  Both Andrew and Valerie work in various areas of development and we will be hearing about this in due course.
Andrew and Valerie, and their three children, Sasha, Tiago and Imani. are very much part of our Church and I am delighted that they have agreed to do this as we will all benefit enormously from their input. 

Contact: Andrew Ward  07900 017394