Re-awakening intentional mentorship through cross-generation empowerment


Jane Anyango outgoing Polycom Development Project Director. [Wilberforce Okwiri,Standard]

 The phrase 'to empower a girl is to empower the whole society' is a common phrase that has enabled societies in different parts of the world to accept women's viewpoints as well as make an effort to support them through education, awareness, literacy, and training.

In return, women and young girls' empowerment has allowed them to make life-determining decisions through different societal problems and allowed them to redefine gender roles, giving them more freedom to pursue desired goals.

Here in Kenya, organisations and parastatals have tried to implement the two-third gender rule, which ensures that two-thirds of members of all elective and appointive positions are not of the same gender.

On the ground as well, different organisations have led young girls' empowerment, equipping them with the knowledge and skills they need in different spaces.

Even as their efforts are bearing fruits, it is undeniable that a lot more needs to be done.

This is because societal structures are changing and more generations are coming up, therefore what might have served the women ten years ago, might not serve them five years to come.

Speaking to The Standard, Polycom Girls CEO Jane Anyang’o says, people need to adopt the cross-generation women and young girls’ empowerment.

According to Anyang’o, unlike before when young girls mostly depended on their seniors, the girls of today are wells of wisdom as well.

Therefore, creating a space that brings together women from different age groups is a game changer when it comes to women's empowerment.

“Mentorship in this age and time should be held in a way that young girls listen to us, who are before them as we listen to them. It should be a cross-generational conversation. It is wrong to assume that young people are only to listen and not to be listened to,” said Anyang’o.

"A good example is that young people are more technology savvy than us, it is something that we are getting as we grow up but with them, they are growing up with it. We might not be able to utilise technology as well as the young people."

Reiterating her sentiments, politician Linah Chebii noted that cross-generational mentorship is important as it outlines the possible pitfalls one might face in different spaces across all generations.

"We are sharing with the young women on what we stood for and our life stories on what shaped us. For them to fit in these spaces, when they encounter challenges, they should be able to know that somebody has walked such a path and made it," said Chebii.

Adding: "We hope that by sharing our stories, by seeing people who have gone ahead of them and talked about those things, that they can also gain that courage to speak up and raise their voices against the injustices faced by women.

Today, young girls in their twenties are becoming CEOs. While others in their forties are re-inventing themselves.

According to Anyang'o coming together and having these conversations will enable them to acquire knowledge without feeling like they are starting from zero, as they will be standing on the shoulders of those who went before them, regardless of their age.

This kind of mentorship she says places sisterhood above age and culture, a trait that is key in achieving 100 per cent gender equality as well as women empowerment in any society.

The two were speaking during the launch of the Polycom Girls 2024-2029 strategic plan, an event that culminated in a mentorship session led by veteran women in various fields in the country.