CARE Partner Profile: Center For Livelihood Advancement (CFLA)

CARE works with many incredible local partners around the world to help deliver projects that have meaningful, lasting impact on individuals and communities. The Center for Livelihood Advancement (CFLA) is one of our women’s voice and leadership project partners in Kenya.

The Center For Livelihood Advancement is a women-led non-profit organization based in Nairobi, Kenya. We help women, girls and other vulnerable people to strengthen their economic resilience. We address barriers to gender equality, women’s empowerment, economic justice and rights. CFLA is currently working to improve protection of female domestic workers within Nairobi’s informal settlements and to respond to the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. Some of our specific interventions include:

  • Mobilizing and amplifying the voices of female domestic workers to make them heard in development policy and strategies
  • Distributing protective kits containing sanitizer, masks and gender-based violence information including a hotline number
  • Helping to create and facilitate self-help groups for female domestic workers
  • Protecting against gender-based violence and other forms of abuse in the workplace
  • Improving work skills and labour rights
  • Workplace safety audits
  • Provision of first aid psychosocial support
  • Community dialogue and media campaigns

HOW DOES YOUR ORGANIZATION PARTNER WITH CARE CANADA?

CFLA received grants through Urgent Action Fund-Africa, a partner in CARE’s Women’s Voice and Leadership project, which is supported by the Government of Canada. Through this grant, CFLA was able to amplify the concerns of female domestic workers in the context of COVID-19 and help support them.

The grant enabled us provide simple information on how to report gender-based violence by attaching a hotline number on hand sanitizer bottles so that female domestic workers can report abuse discretely.

The grant also helped us to conduct safety audits, where female domestic workers identified all abusive employers and blacklisted them. We were also able to initiate dialogue and media debates about the difficulties female domestic workers in Kenya are facing and possible solutions. Domestic workers were also able to join self-help groups to empower them to amplify their voices and address financial challenges.

HOW HAS THE PANDEMIC HAS AFFECTED WOMEN IN YOUR COMMUNITY?

Because more women work in the informal sector, which has been severely affected by lockdowns and restrictions, many women have lost their jobs.

Women are also over-burdened with unpaid care work, taking care of children as well as the sick and elderly.

There are increased cases of domestic violence and other forms of abuse against women due to the increased economic and social pressure in homes and communities. This has been exacerbated by the fact that most of the time the abusers were trapped at home with women due to COVID-19 lockdowns.

There is also an increased digital divide and unequal access to information. Most information is now being shared digitally, and many women are not able to access it due to cost and knowledge gaps.

Also, because physical meetings have decreased or stopped altogether, most women have lost their networks and relationships. This has led to increased poverty as most of their income-earning activities depend on small financial contributions.

Women gathered showcasing CFLA hand sanitizer bottle containing help line phone number on labels. Photo: CFLA protective kit items: hand santizer with help line phone number on the label, face mask and soap. Photo: Center For Livelihood Advancement (CFLA)
CFLA hand sanitizer bottles contain help line phone number on labels. Photo: Center For Livelihood Advancement (CFLA)
CFLA protective kit items: hand santizer with help line phone number on the label, face mask and soap. Photo: Center For Livelihood Advancement (CFLA)
CFLA protective kit items: hand santizer with help line phone number on the label, face mask and soap. Photo: Center For Livelihood Advancement (CFLA)

HOW HAVE WOMEN RISEN TO MEET THESE CHALLENGES?

In so many ways!

Female domestic workers are continuously conducting safety audits at their waiting and washing areas, and blacklisting abusive and exploitative employers.

They have started table banking (community-based savings and loans groups) in their washing areas, and some are now running small businesses to supplement their washing income.

They are offering first aid psychosocial support to those who have experienced abuse and are organizing themselves into care groups and self-help groups to offer support.

The women in each washing area are continuously reviewing their labour payment rates to make them standard and are engaging in dialogues with stakeholders to voice their concerns as domestic workers.

HOW IS YOUR ORGANIZATION WORKING TO EMPOWER WOMEN TO LEAD OVER THE LONG-TERM, BEYOND COVID-19?

CFLA is at the forefront in mobilizing female domestic workers, training them in leadership, organizing, agenda-setting and dialogue. Furthermore, CFLA is working to formalize a female domestic workers organization, ensuring that they have leadership from the grassroots to the county level in Nairobi county, eventually including other counties and major cities of Kenya (Kisumu, Mombasa, Nakuru, Kiambu, Kajiado and Machakos).

We are working with female domestic workers to identify strategic interventions in policy and practices to improve the domestic workers' situation in Kenya for the long-term. Finally, we are working to ensure that female domestic workers are sufficiently and effectively represented in the national union of domestic workers.

HOW CAN WE (AS INDIVIDUALS AND AS A COLLECTIVE) ENSURE THAT WOMEN EVERYWHERE CAN LEAD IN CREATING A BETTER WORLD FOR US ALL?

  • Identify strategic support for grassroots organizations, capacity development of community-based organizations, and young women-led organizations to ensure that women can voice their issues
  • More financial support to grassroots organizations that are women-led. Women may have challenges in writing proposals and concepts, yet they have ideas and models that can really create positive, lasting change. We need to have organizations that can support women in bringing their initiatives and innovations to funders.
  • Improve access to information and digital skills for women, especially women in informal economies and rural agriculture
  • Mentor emerging women leaders and organizers so that the baton can be passed successfully

All photos provided by the Center for Livelihood Advancement (CFLA)