Mentor Mothers: Millicent
What does 'Women Empowerment' mean? There is many definitions of empowerment but DIG looks at it as a process where an individual becomes an agent of change moving from “I can’t” to “I can.” One of the women farmers that represents DIG's work is Millicent.
Millicent is 27 years old and was born in Siaya County in Kenya. As a young girl, she completed her primary education but was forced to drop out of secondary in her second year because her parents could not afford to pay for her education. She later found work as a house help and got married to her husband. Unfortunately this is a very common story among rural women in Western Kenya. Since then Millicent has had five children but her three youngest daughters all suffer from physical disabilities. Although her children suffer from a genetic disease, her neighbors and her community viewed her and her household as being cursed. Being isolated and stigmatized, Millicent as had to rely on herself to work, feed her family, and support her children.
Millicent joined DIG farmer field school in 2017 when DIG started to work in Homa Bay County; she was most interested in the income generation aspects of the training as she saw it as a opportunity to be self-employed and better support her family independently. During the DIG training, she was one of the most studious participants learning how to plant variety of vegetables and quickly adopting sustainable agriculture techniques at home. In just her first season of this year Millicent made around 3000 KSH ($30) every month from sale of kales and onions from her farm. She also is one of the only women in the area who is growing butternut squash. Now neighbors that feared even walking by her house have begun to visit her garden, enter her home, and aski her for advice and support.
She has moved from being a stigmatized woman to a community trainer and leader. She is delighted to work with DIG because she wants to share a message of hope with other women like her.In 2017, DIG launched a new program site in Homa Bay County in partnership with Agriculture Implementation Support Services (AGRISS), Marindi Hospital, and the Ministry of Agriculture to improve nutrition status, income generation, and food security of vulnerable populations. After 6 months of working with the hospital on the Priority Household Program for severely malnourished under 5 year olds and community groups through our Mobile Farmer Field School, it became clear that DIG needed more trainers. Honoring our core values of local empowerment and gender equity, DIG started a training program called Mentor Mothers. Millicent is one of three of the star women Mobile Farmer Field School graduates. We are building their capacity as local facilitators and as a resource to support women in their community.