Count On Me Campaign: Empowering Widows in Siaya through Advocacy and Policy Reform
The Count On Me campaign is an inspiring advocacy initiative within Rona Foundation’s Nina Haki Project supported by African Women Development Fund (AWDF). It seeks to transform the lives of widows in Siaya County. By increasing public support and engaging with key duty bearers, such as Governor James Orengo and elected MCAs, including widow legislators, the campaign aims to promote widow rights and enact the Siaya Widows Protection Policy. Through collective efforts and collaboration, the campaign endeavors to create a society where widows are empowered, respected, and provided with the necessary support to thrive. Together, we can build a brighter future for widows in Siaya, demonstrating that they can count on us to stand by their side.
In Siaya County, Kenya, widows face numerous challenges as they navigate through life without the support and protection of their deceased husbands. From harmful traditional practices, economic hardships to social stigmatization, widows often find themselves marginalized and vulnerable. However, a new campaign called “Count On Me” is aiming to change this narrative. With a focus on increasing public support and influencing key duty bearers, such as Governor James Orengo and elected Members of the County Assembly (MCAs), including elected widow legislators. The campaign seeks to promote widow rights, garner public support towards the enactment of the Siaya Widows Protection Policy.
Increasing Public Support:
A crucial aspect of the Count On Me campaign is to mobilise public support to promote widow rights, and create a platform for open dialogue for policies that are widow aware. By utilizing various channels such as social media, public gatherings, and awareness campaigns, the campaign seeks to engage the wider community in understanding the issues faced by widows. It aims to challenge stereotypes, debunk misconceptions, and foster empathy and understanding. The campaign will also highlight the stories of courageous widows who have overcome adversity and achieved success, showcasing their resilience and inspiring others to support their cause.
Influencing Duty Bearers:
To ensure lasting change, the Count On Me campaign recognises the importance of engaging duty bearers in the policymaking process. Governor James Orengo and the elected MCAs, such Hon. Scholastica Madowo Masidis and Eunice Ndolo, who play a vital role in enacting legislation that protects the rights of widows in Siaya. The campaign will advocate for the enactment and implementation of the Siaya Widows Protection Policy (2023), urging these duty bearers to fulfill their election commitments and prioritize the welfare of widows. By organizing meetings, workshops, and policy dialogues, the campaign will provide a platform for direct engagement and collaboration with these stakeholders, encouraging them to take concrete policy actions.
Enacting the Siaya Widows Protection Policy:
The cornerstone of the Count On Me campaign is the enactment of the Siaya Widows Protection Policy. This policy will address the various challenges faced by widows, providing legal frameworks and social support systems to empower them. The policy will focus on outlawing harmful widowhood practices, economic empowerment, social inclusion and Implementation Framework within formal and informal structures of governance. Through research, consultations, and expert inputs, the campaign will ensure that the policy is comprehensive, practical, and tailored to the specific needs of widows in Siaya. See link:
Collaborating with Widow Legislators:
Another essential aspect of the Count On Me campaign is to collaborate with widow legislators. These elected representatives have a unique perspective on the challenges faced by widows and can advocate for their rights within the legislative framework. By working closely with these MCAs, including widow legislators, the campaign aims to leverage their influence and expertise to champion the cause of widows in Siaya. This collaboration will involve joint advocacy efforts, capacity building, and the formulation of strategic plans to advance the enactment of Siaya Widows Protection Policy in the legislative process.
Roseline Orwa is the Founder & Director of Rona Foundation, a grassroots organisation in Kenya that works to advance and protect widows’ rights, as well as provide support to orphans and vulnerable children.
She is a lifelong Fellow of the Atlantic Social Economic and Equity Program at the London School of Economics for social and economic equity. An Aspen New Voices Fellow 2021, and a Storyteller with The Moth Africa. She tweets @Roseline Orwa.
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