Lobbyist award boosts grass root activists in Nairobi’s slum

KENYA: With the money and honor Rachael Mwikali, the first Lobbyist for Change winner, can do more in the fight for poor people’s rights in Kenya. Now she calls for nominations of other young people and women for this year’s prize.

– It is a big gift to us. Most of the time we use our own resources to support what we do in our social movement. With the prize money we have been able to do activities, like meetings for the grass root activists. We use the money to make our work much better than before, says Rachael Mwikali, convener for Grassroots Human Rights Defenders (CGHRD).

Rachael Mwikali lives in Mathare, a slum in Nairobi where human rights are violated daily. Here CGHRD, a network of human rights defenders at the grassroots level in Kenya, has its hub. With the prize money of USD 10 000 from We Effect’s Lobbyist for Change award they have been able to set up meetings and training programs with human rights advocates both within and outside Nairobi and not be restricted to social media and phones. They have also opened an office in Mathare and established a website.

Rachael Mwikali believes that the media attention around her person due to the award has been important and given CGHRD a stronger voice in Kenya. She says that they also have been recognised among international actors who support human rights activists in Kenya.

– It is a very good experience and our struggle has been shared globally through the publicity of what we do in the communities. Through the award people have started to respect our work and it has also led to grassroots activists being awarded by other actors. Some of the activists that were demoralized got the motivation back when seeing me winning. It brought the momentum back to the struggle, to protect the civic space, says Rachael Mwikali.

Now Rachael Mwikali wants to see more people at the grass root level nominated for Lobbyist for Change award 2017, a price financed by the Swedish PostCode Lottery.

– Nominate the activists who have been doing this work without being paid. They are very passionate. Nominate young people, nominate women. There is that spirit where people say that young women can’t make it. But with me being an example, nominate as many young people as possible, says Rachael Mwikali.

Who will be Lobbyist for Change 2017?

Do you know someone who has successfully defended human rights? Someone who deserves an award for fighting poverty? Here you can read more and nominate your organisations candidate.

Written by

Anna Kakuli