A graduate of FOCUS Kenya, Loise Maina is working with the United Nations to tackle gender inequality in Africa.
As a student, Loise jumped at the opportunity to serve with FOCUS Kenya in development programmes in some of Nairobi’s poorest areas. This experience, she says, helped her determine how she wanted to serve and impact society after graduation.
“I am a firm believer that God has called each of us to a life of purpose. My work with FOCUS Kenya set me on track for a career in development.”
Having always had a passion to play a part in the empowerment of women and young people, Loise has been working with UN Women for the past three years.
Whilst the perception of gender equality is improving, and the number of women holding positions of leadership in Africa is increasing, there is still work to be done. UN Women, established in 2010, is an organisation of the United Nations that champions gender equality, working to develop and uphold standards, and create an environment in which every woman can live to her full potential.
“Women constitute almost 70% of the agricultural labour force yet find there isn’t the same access to resources as there is for men — resources like land, financial resources, and information about markets and technologies. The result is they continue to bear the brunt of this inequality, evidenced by low and unreliable incomes, low productivity and limited employment opportunities.
“Women make substantive contributions in the economic growth of most countries yet they do not fully enjoy the benefits that accompany this growth. I want to help to change this, and for me, UN Women is an organisation right at the forefront of promoting issues of gender equality and the empowerment of women.
“Having been raised by a single mum, I understand the everyday challenges that many women face just to keep their families together and ensure they are well cared and provided for.”
In parts of Africa, some countries are leading the way towards more balanced gender representation in politics. Figures from the UN show that women occupy 24% of parliamentary and ministerial seats across sub-Saharan Africa. This compares favourably to the US where less than a fifth of congressional seats are held by women. According to the Inter-Parliamentary Union (an international organisation of parliaments), women make up more than 60% of the political representation in Rwanda.
Loise comments, “It is satisfying to be part of efforts to correct inequalities and contribute to a fairer and just society, where societies work together to achieve sustainable development.”
Giving back to student ministry
Lois continues to see the value and importance of student ministry. As a certified organisational development specialist, she recently worked to support the IFES regional team in English- and Portuguese-speaking Africa (EPSA) to develop a three-year capacity-expansion plan for the region.
Asked what encouragement she would give to students today, Lois replied:
“My heart for students is that they seek out their life’s purpose, and serve God faithfully in it. That might be frontline ministry, or in the market place, but it is important we put to use the gifts and talents God has given us.
“We should all work together as the body of Christ to bring positive change and leave a lasting impact in our families and societies.”
How have you been challenged and developed, through student ministry, to put to use the gifts and talents God has given you?