In times of crisis, such as the intersecting challenges of climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic, the vulnerabilities faced by women in rural communities across Kenya are often exacerbated. As humanitarian organizations and grant-making bodies increasingly recognize the importance of a feminist approach to humanitarian response, it is essential to highlight the significance of cash transfer programs in addressing gender disparities and promoting gender equality and equity. We seek to shed light on the pivotal role of cash transfer programs in rural Kenya as a means of advancing feminist humanitarian response, and as a grant-making and managing organization, we continue to learn about the various implications that the cash transfer can bring while supporting its incredible impacts on lives. As our program manager always says; We are a learning organization, and this is what makes us evolve and thrive in a feminist funding ecosystem The Context Rural communities in Kenya have been grappling with the effects of climate change, which include erratic rainfall patterns, droughts, and food insecurity. Moreover, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought about health and economic crises that disproportionately affect women. Women often bear the brunt of caregiving responsibilities, and their access to income-generating opportunities is limited. Feminist Humanitarian Response A feminist humanitarian response places gender equality and equity at its core. It recognizes that women and girls experience crises differently, and it strives to address their unique needs, vulnerabilities, and capacities. Such a response emphasizes the empowerment of women and the removal of systemic barriers that hinder their participation in decision-making processes. Cash Transfer Programs and Their Feminist Benefits
- Economic Empowerment: Cash transfer programs provide a direct and effective means of economic empowerment for women-led households. By putting money directly into the hands of women, these programs enable them to make choices that are best suited to their families' needs. This financial autonomy enhances their economic status and ability to weather crises.
- Reduction of Gender-Based Violence (GBV): Economic vulnerability is a significant risk factor for gender-based violence. Cash transfers can reduce this vulnerability, making women less dependent on abusive partners for financial support. Moreover, increased financial independence can empower women to seek help and escape abusive situations.
- Health and Education: Cash transfers can be conditional on specific outcomes, such as ensuring children's school attendance and healthcare visits. This encourages women to invest in the health and education of their children, thereby breaking the cycle of poverty and creating a brighter future for the next generation.
- Community Resilience: By improving the economic stability of women-led households, cash transfers contribute to the overall resilience of communities. When women are empowered, they become agents of change within their communities, advocating for their rights, participating in decision-making, and fostering a more gender-equitable society.