COVID-19: Voices of Kenyan girls and young women

4 MAY 2020

Virginia, 19 was due to start university before the outbreak

Virginia, 19, was due to start university
Virginia, 19, was due to start university

“For me, the COVID-19 pandemic means that I have to put my dreams and ambitions on hold because the whole world is at a standstill and it also means that I will take longer to complete school. In addition to this, I haven’t been able to meet my friends.

“My friends and I have taken up acting classes besides our normal studies and with COVID-19 we have had to put this on hold. I am a peer educator with the Young Health Programmes and under normal circumstances, I would have been sharing information on non-communicable diseases during our education sessions.

“However right now, we are unable to have physical meetings, I am therefore working with other peer educators to disseminate this information on different social media platforms.”

Georgina, 20, is in her second year of university studying economics and statistics

“COVID-19 pandemic has affected my life so much. I no longer go to school because schools were closed as a way of stopping the disease from spreading. My school decided to introduce online learning.

“The e-learning was a good idea, however, the practicality of it has been a problem for the following reasons: As a student, I need to use a lot of data in order to attend the online classes which means spending a lot of money on airtime. Some of my schoolmates live in areas that have poor network coverage so it is almost impossible for them to attend the e-classes.

“COVID-19 has strained my normal interactions with my friends due to the rule of social distancing. I miss them a lot, but now the best form of engagement that we have is phone calls.”

Elosy, 22, is in her second year of university studying clinical medicine

“There is a feeling of powerlessness that comes as a result of boredom and not exactly having a variety of things to do at home. I look forward to a time when the virus will be under control and I will be able to go back to school and that people will not take advantage of this time to violate the rights of girls and young women.

“In addition to this, I hope that the authorities will take the necessary measure to ensure that girls and young women are protected and that perpetrators face the law.”

Sarah, 23, is Safety Ambassador for Plan International’s Safer Cities project

“The pandemic has hit the economy hard and many young people who are entrepreneurs are suffering the ripple effect of the pandemic. Some have had to close their businesses that they worked so hard to start. It is also very difficult to buy things because the cost of most items has increased.

“My biggest hope is that once the pandemic comes to an end, the government finds ways to improve the health sector in our country so that the citizens of Kenya can receive proper healthcare and stay healthy.

“My message to girls and young women all over the world is that they should all stay strong and adhere to the precautionary measures given to avoid getting infected with the virus.”

Patricia, a Youth Advocate with Plan International

“I have a visual impairment and think that the COVID-19 pandemic is taking a serious toll on people with disabilities. I understand that everyone is scared about it, but for us, the reality of this disease affects us even more deeply.

“We are more prone to a lot of negative things. For example, right now families are striving to stay safe, but the question in my mind is, are children with disabilities, or even adults with disabilities being given the care they need to get through this difficult time?

“I am particularly concerned about other girls with disabilities because if girls who have no disabilities are at risk of abuse, you can imagine how much more vulnerable we are, people can very easily take advantage of us and that scares many of us. As a girl advocate with a disability, I feel like I need to raise my voice on behalf of the many other girls and children who are not able to.”

Hope, 20, hopes that menstrual hygiene management will not be ignored

“I hope everyone is keeping safe during this period and observing health and security regulations by the government. Staying at home and avoiding unnecessary movements is equivalent to saving a life.

“Remember to maintain a safe distance as well as washing your hands and sanitising regularly. It is highly encouraged that we keep ourselves productively occupied by for instance learning a new skill or language in this period.

“Many sectors have been adversely affected in this period particularly schools in which some children depend on meals and for girls who receive sanitary towels. It is my hope that as the government distributes necessities that they also distribute sanitary towels to make this period bearable for girls in the country.”

Emergencies, COVID-19