Maendeleo House Mrs. Phoebe Asiyo-President, MYWO
Maendeleo Ya Wanawake Organization (MYWO) was registered in 1952. It is a national membership Non-Governmental Organization. It seeks to unify, nurture and empower women socially, economically and politically to be able to deal with the unique challenges that face them in society.
MYWO was first organized by the Department of Community Development and Rehabilitation within the colonial government. At the time of independence, the leadership of the organization was turned over to African women.
The new independent government rewarded MYWO’s efforts by funding their projects and distinguishing the role of the organization as a welfare agency. Overtime, MYWO’s grassroots network expanded to eight provinces of the country and the leadership was made up of a chain of elected representatives from the smallest administrative unit up to the national level.
Today, MYWO boasts of a nation-wide network of over 4 million individual members and 25,000 affiliate groups.
MYWO involvement in women empowerment and development issues run over six decades. At Kenya’s independence, MYWO played a role in building the country through its countrywide network. MYWO joined President Kenyatta’s rallying cry of self-help.
MYWO’s efforts in women’s mobilization were instrumental in building schools, clinics, and community centers across the country. By the mid- 1970s, MYWO had raised enough money to build Maendeleo House in Central Business District of Nairobi.
The leaders were strongly influenced by the United Nations Declaration of the Decade for Women (1976-1985), following the World Conference for Women that was held in Mexico City. Correspondingly, MYWO oriented its programming towards social welfare all the whileproviding a prominent voice for grassroots women’s organizations. In the 1980s, MYWO became affiliated with the then ruling party KANU. MYWO mobilized women for KANU and managed government programs for women.
However, this was the period when development partners declined to sponsor MYWO’s development because of its alignment to KANU.
Ironically this was the period MYWO acquired many assets in form of vehicles and land/plots in urban areas as a reward for the good service done for KANU.However, in the early 1990s, MYWO joined the democratization movement in Kenya and disengaged from KANU. Nevertheless, MYWO continued as a key political player. During the political transition from one party to a multiparty system in Kenya, MYWO, like many civil society organizations in the country, went through an identity crisis as it attempted to find its place in the reform movement to better take care of the interests of women in the new political dispensation.
MYWO is managed from its National Secretariat. The programme and project activities of MYWO are designed and executed by the National Secretariat which is staffed by the organization’s technical professional team, led by an Executive Director. The Executive Director and the Heads of Departments together form the Management Team that coordinates programme design and implementation. The Management Team also provides leadership and technical competency for resource mobilization and management.
The supreme decision making organ of MYWO is the General Assembly of members which ordinarily meets on an annual basis (Annual General Meeting) to transact its business. The National Executive Council (NEC) is responsible for governance, dealing with policy direction and oversight.
Over the years, this organization has accumulated a wealth of experience in the management of development projects and, diversified and expanded its vision and mission to encompass community concerns.
MYWO's past main programmes were: Reproductive Health, Women & Development, Economic Empowerment, Education, HIV & AIDS, Gender & Governance and Research & Development.