Programme posté par YOUNG AFRICAN WOMEN INITIATIVES
Publié le : 7 juin 2012
Situating Refugee Women in Africa
For several decades Africa has witnessed many armed and violent conflicts which have forced millions of people out of their homelands into neighboring countries and beyond. For the greater part, many African governments have opted to treat refugees as a transient and exceptional phenomenon and accordingly devised encampment as the appropriate regime or strategy of managing and containing refugees as they seemingly wait for repatriation. The encampment regime is the chosen way of managing refugees because i) it confines refugees to designated areas thus reducing competition for resources between refugees and locals, ii) it facilitates control and containment of refugees who are viewed not only as victims but also agents of insecurity, and iii) it facilitates easy identification of refugees for repatriation which host governments consider the solution. On their part, humanitarian organizations that assist refugees, particularly the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), have argued that encampment enhances refugee visibility to donors thus enabling them to understand the magnitude of the crisis and need besides facilitating easier administration, counting of the refugees and distribution of aid Displaced people are expected to stay in refugee camps while they wait for the restoration of peace in their countries of origin. The camps as a temporary solution to a presumably ephemeral situation have instead become a permanent feature of the African landscape in what can be termed reutilization of the exceptional.
The continued existence of refugees in Africa is aggravated by a combination of new conflicts erupting and generating new refugee influxes and failure to find lasting solutions to old conflicts. As a result, conflicts such as those in Rwanda, Burundi, Sudan and Somalia have been characterised by intermittent escalation and de-escalation of hostilities and violence such that peace that could prompt refugees to repatriate has remained elusive for decades. The protracted nature of these conflicts has rendered specific nationalities refugees for generations. The longer the conflicts have prevailed in the African geopolitical space, the more complex the conflicts and the refugee crises have become. The complexities and protracted nature of the refugee phenomenon in contemporary Africa has prompted increasing numbers of refugees to self-settle in both rural and urban areas as they seek to forestall the unsavory prospect of spending decades or even a lifetime in refugee camps. As refugee's self settle among local populations, this creates possibilities of integration which remains eschewed as a durable solution to the plight of refugees in Africa.
For refugee women in developing countries, the challenges are exacerbated by these countries' lack of capacity to provide for the needs of the refugees. Kenya is a developing country which is still grappling with providing for the needs of its own citizens and does not provide material and financial assistance to the refugees that it hosts. On its part, the UNHCR does not provide humanitarian aid to refugees self-settled in Nairobi and views assisting refugees outside the camps as inconsistent with the GoK's encampment regulation. Quality of life is central to integration; employment is therefore the most prominent feature of the integration process in that it is directly linked to living standards besides that it fosters active participation in other societal spheres through contacts established in the workplace. Refugee women highlight employment as a priority; it gives refugees a sense of economic security and self-respect. Lack of access to formal employment transcends ethnic, national and religious categories to bring the refugee women together as a specific socio-legal category that has to deal with the challenges of economic exclusion in Nairobi.
YAWI - Women's Empowerment Centre
In this context and aiming to improve self-employment opportunities for young refugee women and Kenyan internally displaced women, the project will facilitate the creation of a training center in the locality Center for Women's Empowerment is a $34,545 dollar project that will target 200 young and disadvantaged refugee women, 18 to 40 years of age.
Participants will comply with the following characteristics:
(i)lacking business opportunities,
(ii) having a small business worth less than KSh. (20,000) equivalent to $300
(iii) lacking access to credit/star-up loans.
The project will provide a comprehensive package of services that includes the following components:
(i) in-classroom skills training,
(ii) on-the-job training, and
(iii) an exit strategy.
The first component, in-classroom training, consists of an array of courses from cognitive to non-cognitive skills. Cognitive skills involve training on four specific trades: jewelry making, shoe/sandal production, tailoring, and catering and hospitality. Trainees will select one of these four trades according to their expertise and preference. In addition to these courses, project participants will receive training on entrepreneurial skills, including management and accounting. Entrepreneurial training will include field trips to local markets and commercial banks. Training on non-cognitive skills comprises courses on life and soft skills that will be complemented by psychological counseling, aiming to address traumas of war.
The second component, on-the-job training, consists of a two week internship in local business where young participants will acquire real experience in management. Participants will be placed in business related to their chosen trade. Components one and two will be delivered in a span of five months.
The last component, an exit strategy, will facilitate the implementation of the trainees' entrepreneurial initiatives and smooth their transition out of the project. The strategy consists of start-up loans and mentoring services that will be awarded upon completion of the training components, a final examination, and the presentation of a business plan. Startup loans will be distributed to groups of at least five women, organized in a cooperative manner. They will receive mentoring and follow up visits for at least three months to ensure a successful beginning.
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