Press Release – CFK Africa Highlights Three Ways to Empower Girls and Young Women in Informal Settlements

For International Women’s Day, NGO celebrates program models that inspire and uplift

NAIROBI, KENYA – CFK Africa, an international non-profit organization with offices in Kenya and the U.S., is highlighting ways to empower girls and young women living in informal settlements in Kenya and around the world in honor of International Women’s Day on March 8. For over two decades, CFK Africa has championed girls and young women in Kenyan informal settlements with girls’ empowerment activities embedded across its health and education programs.

“We understand that girlhood and adolescence are marked by significant growth, development, and change, filled with vulnerabilities and incredible opportunities and potential,” said CFK Africa Executive Director Jeffrey Okoro. “By implementing programs that focus on mentorship and advocacy to ensure equal access to opportunities, we can empower girls into adulthood to embrace their leadership potential, increase their self-confidence, and flourish.”

To mark International Women’s Day this Friday, CFK Africa highlights three ways to empower girls and young women as models that can be replicated in informal settlements worldwide:

1. Provide pathways for teenage mothers to stay in school.
Education is a cornerstone of empowerment, yet many teenage mothers drop out of school due to discrimination or a lack of support at home. Teenage mothers in informal settlements face significant obstacles, including a lack of newborn care essentials, barriers to earning income to support their families, and other challenges caused by extreme poverty. Special programs to keep them on track can benefit them — and their children.

CFK Africa is expanding its Funzo Project to several informal settlements in Kenya, which provides pathways for teenage mothers to realize their right to education paired with psychosocial support. Participating mothers meet monthly to discuss topics such as sexual and reproductive health, the benefits of breastfeeding, and preventing sexually transmitted diseases. The program also focuses on advocacy at the community level, working with school administrators, healthcare facilities, and the government to ensure that teenage mothers can stay enrolled or re-enroll in school without discrimination.

2. Create “safe spaces” for learning and discussion.
Girls and young women need places where they can have conversations with each other and trusted advisors on issues that arise during girlhood and adolescence, such as menstruation, sexual and reproductive health, and mental health, as they process critical moments of growth and challenges.

CFK Africa was the lead partner in developing, implementing, and piloting the “Girl-Centered Design” and the “Safe Spaces” models in collaboration with the Population Council in 2008, which has been internationally recognized as a leading program model for girls’ empowerment. Creating safe spaces for girls and young women serves as a primary connection point with CFK Africa. It provides a secure environment where they are physically, emotionally, and psychologically safe to express themselves, forming strong sisterhoods and gaining access to valuable resources and mentorship.

3. Develop healthy minds and bodies through sports.
Sports are a powerful tool for girls’ empowerment. Sports programs benefit girls and young women by teaching them valuable leadership, teamwork, nutrition, community service, and health lessons, especially from older women and coaches who serve as mentors.

Since establishing Kibera’s first all-girls soccer league in 2002, CFK Africa has pioneered soccer initiatives to promote community cooperation and development, connect girls to health services, and build valuable life skills for girls to become active leaders in their communities. CFK Africa’s soccer projects include Kenya-wide community football tournaments and a national football club, Kibera Soccer Women FC, composed of talented athletes who use their platform to act as social change champions. Soccer provides girls with a sense of belonging and builds confidence so that girls are empowered to overcome challenges on and off the pitch. 

“Programs that invest in the education, health, and financial independence of girls and young women have a positive effect on their future and, in turn, build stronger, more equitable communities,” said CFK Africa Executive Director Jeffrey Okoro. “This International Women’s Day, we celebrate the types of programs that empower our next generation of women to succeed and thrive.”


About CFK Africa
Founded in 2001, CFK Africa works to improve public health and economic prosperity in informal settlements in Kenya through integrated health and youth leadership initiatives. Using a participatory development approach, the organization works directly with community residents to develop and implement sustainable programs. After marking 20 years of service in Kibera in 2021, CFK began expanding to additional informal settlements in Nairobi County and across eight counties in Kenya, including Kajiado, Kiambu, Kilifi, Kisumu, Machakos, Mombasa, and Nakuru.

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