Sharon Migariza Kiyingu

2016 Winner

Position: Founder/ Chairperson, Women Promotion Centre
Organization: Women Promotion Centre

Sharon Migariza Kiyingu works to improve contraceptive access for marginalized and vulnerable women and girls in rural and semi-urban areas of Kenya. Through the Women Promotion Centre, a nonprofit organization she established in 2011, she has set up 6 reproductive health drop-in centers in Kibera slums that women and adolescent girls can visit to access reliable information on family planning, birth control methods and sexuality education. Women Promotion Centre received one of six inaugural PAI YouAccess Fund grants earlier this year to support its efforts to abolish mandatory pregnancy tests for schoolgirls in the Kibera slums.

Through the Women Promotion Centre, Sharon works with local leaders to ensure accessibility to family planning options to marginalized slum women through advocacy initiatives within the slum.

Benard Wakoli, Program Director at YALDA-K

Describe your contributions to and achievements in family planning.

I work with marginalized and vulnerable women and girls in rural and semi-urban areas in enhancing their accessibility to family planning options. Through the Women Promotion Centre, a non-profit organization i established in 2011, i have been able to set 6 reproductive health drop-in centres in Kibera slums where women and adolescent girls visit to access reliable information on family planning and birth control methods, and sexuality education. In addition to providing safe space for women/girls, the centres also serve as distribution points for contraceptives and referrals. So far, we have reached 200,000 women/girls directly and around 600,000 women/girls indirectly through information. My advocacy work on SRHR has seen the introduction of Reproductive health Bill in the Senate.

What sparked your passion for family planning?

I was born and raised in a slum setting where the main role of a woman is to give. Families in slums areas are large, between 10 and 20 children whom most families cannot support. As a child growing up in a family of 12 children, I suffered alot, including lacking basic needs. I witnessed my peers getting pregnant at a tender age of 13 years and being married off. It was due to experiences in my childhood that sparked my passion for family planning.

What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your family planning efforts, and what have you done to overcome it?

I work in a highly conservative society where having many children comes with pride, a sign of wealth, and a sense of security. Therefore, challenging these enshrined traditions, given my young age, attracts strong opposition from both men and women. In my work i have encountered violence including physical and verbal attacks, and death threats for “spoiling” women in the community. I have included young progressive men in my advocacy work as away of overcoming these challenges.

What is your (country/region/city)’s biggest challenge in family planning, and how can it be addressed?

My Country’s biggest challenge in family planning is the enshrined traditional beliefs associated with women sexuality. To address this challenge, there is need for increased sexuality education, family planning sensitization to both men and women, and enhanced accessibility to family planning options among women.

What do you want to accomplish in the next 5 years?

In the next five years i plan to have reached more than 1,000,000 women directly with family planning options creating and equipping additional 5 drop-in Centres in strategic locations within Kibera Slums.