Sophie Ngugi, Kenyan, is the Life Skills and Sponsorship Manager for Women for Women International. She is working in South Sudan with women survivors who have been impacted by war and civil strives.Sophie attended AWLI in Addis Ababa in 2008, and shares her passion and actions in empowering women.
When one woman is empowered,communities are empowered, when one woman suffers, many community members are affected.
I was born in Kenya in a village called Mang’u and in a family of ten siblings. With a degree in Sociology and MA in Gender and Development Studies, I gradually got interested in the gender and development area. I engaged in various organizations at empowering young women and also do community contribution; mentoring pastoralist girls among others. I am a mentor to many girls in formal and informal settings. I seek justice for all human kind and get worked up when women’s human rights are trampled upon. That is what motivated me to a campaign against public stripping of women in Kenya for apparently being ‘indecently dressed’.
I am an alumnus of 2008 AWLI training in Addis Ababa. During the training I met a group of amazing women as participants, trainers and organizers. The two-weeks training had a great impact on my knowledge and attitudes. I was deeply touched in personal planning and I made some objectives over my life which I assess and evaluate to date. I have seen a major difference and achieving goals more so, once I started writing them down. I have been able to achieve most of the professional and personal goals that I set out to achieve! AWLI empowered me to be a better leader and I still go back to the resources I got in my work for reference and knowledge. I particularly find resources around leadership, legal instruments around women and peace to be very useful.
Currently I am working with Women for Women International South Sudan, to help women survivors who have been impacted
by war and civil strives. We believe that with adequate resources andinformation women will move from victims to survivors and lead change into peaceful and stable societies. My role is in managing a core aspect of the program. Women are enrolled into a 12-month Life Skills curriculum in addition to training on other areas like vocational, numeracy and business skills; and access to various resources. By the time the participant has graduated from the program she is equipped to make better decisions on earning and income, her health, her rights and community leadership roles and also linking to social networks that are important for a woman’s holistic development.
How do we build a women’s movement that is capable of sustaining advocacy that is relevant to emerging gender related technical issues?
My first challenge to women’s movement is to walk the talk, work at respecting and promoting the rights of women at our very own
movement hence we can have the moral authority to pursue the same for other women. After many conferences and advocacies, the challenges women face in patriarchal society are still relevant and in need of attention. We cannot give up, for social change is not easy.
Women’s movement need to assess the strategies that we have been using and see if we need to make adjustments for more impact. One
issue that remain controversial is working with men as allies. However, this does not by any way imply that “women have had their share” and the safe space for women need to be maintained even as we seek to work with men. In my view there is still a lot of critical work that needs to be done with women hence working with men should never be confused to replacing the focus on women. The political space remains underutilised in many countries. In many cases the numbers are still below ‘critical’ and we are still srtruggling with 30% representation in the 21st century.
However another challenge is that in some cases even when critical number of women have made it to the political space, they face a challenge of owing allegiance to patriarchal party structures to detriment of addressing of women’s issues. I believe there is still so much to be done for and with women of Africa.
Where do you see yourself in the next 10 years from today?
I definitely believe I will have written a book or two to inspire others especially women. I hope to create a safe blissful space for young women in transition.
Which one thing would you want the world to remember you for?
“The determined lady who did not follow the crowds; but what she did with passion and dedication regardless of who was following or where the crowd was heading”.
In Sophie’s Blog, where she shares her thoughts, there is poem:
I seek your voice mama…Awake and rise, Rise up to meet yourself…Joining in the voices from east to west, from north to south, we put our rhythm together, all in the powerful dance. Together we are transforming the world. We shall be silent no more, for the world needs to hear you, for her-story will be heard, and the dance will go on and on and on…