AIWO works directly with indigenous groups from rural areas to address issues in the following areas:
- environmental conservation
- Reproductive health, including HIV/AIDS
- women’s rights and gender mainstreaming
- women Economic empowerment
- Influence policy change
- cultural preservation
In order to address these issues, we engage in research on the ground, the results of which are used to create trainings and workshops for grassroots community-based organizations. In these outreach programs, techniques for income generation, cultural preservation and sound environmental management are promoted, and methods of achieving gender equality and improving community health are discussed. Concrete action plans are formulated and subsequently implemented. In urban areas, advocacy and lobbying is done at meetings, conferences and other forums where interests of indigenous and minority peoples are being discussed.
AIWO also engages in networking and information sharing between the indigenous peoples of Africa and worldwide via electronic and print media. Our bi-annual magazine, Nomadic News, brings news by and for indigenous Africans to a larger Kenyan and East Africa audience, as well as helping to connect indigenous peoples who are normally unable to interact. This networking helps community organizations to build solidarity, learn from each others’ activities and successes, and motivate each other. Through this cooperation, international indigenous civil society will flourish. As part of AIWO’s commitment to building capacity of indigenous peoples and to make their voices heard, the organization promotes the advancement of indigenous journalists by training them to cover and highlight the plight of indigenous and minority communities.
Gender equity and women’s rights are one of AIWO’s major programming areas, as indigenous women are a minority within a minority, and continue to be double marginalized. Through workshops and trainings on women’s rights, income generation and project development and management, indigenous women are able to learn about their human rights, learn how to manage and make money and run their own projects. AIWO also supports local initiatives working to combat harmful cultural practices such as female genital mutilation (FGM) and child marriage. Since community members are already known in the areas in which they work and are familiar with the practices of their culture, it is best to encourage grassroots work rather than imposing programs from outside. In this way, women working to change their community from within can receive financial support, training and/or materials to inspire revolutionary change. Finally, AIWO holds trainings on sexual and reproductive health, including HIV/AIDS, specifically for women.
Education is promoted through scholarships, particularly for indigenous girls. Early childhood education is another important focus point, as it helps introduce young children to the world of education and helps them develop the skills that will be useful to them as they continue on through school. Early childhood education also gives women more free time for their own personal development. As many grandmothers are the ones responsible for raising children who have been orphaned by AIDS or other illnesses, sending children to school gives them a break from the child-rearing work that they should have long left behind, and benefits the children.AIWO also assists groups to create income-generating projects that will fund the building of schools or the purchase of school supplies.
Climate Change, Biodiversity and Traditional Knowledge :Issues, Concerns and Way Forward – Presentations by IIN