International Women’s Day 2021: #ChoosetoChallenge barriers to safe sanitation access for women and girls
International Women’s Day is a major day for celebrating women’s diversity and achievements all over the world while renewing our solidarity with each other to increase gender parity for inclusive societies of tomorrow.
At Sanergy, we are honored to work with an incredible network of women entrepreneurs and professionals whose individual efforts inspire others to make a difference and evoke change in building bold sanitation and waste management solutions for today’s fast growing cities.
Florence Mwikali is one of the leaders who has worked at Sanergy for over 7 years. This year’s celebration shines a spotlight on the amazing work she does to support and empower our sanitation champions towards delivering safe and hygienic sanitation services to urban residents living in underserved informal settlements.
Florence Mwikali – Operations Lead, Kisumu
What inspired you to join Sanergy?
Sanergy’s vision of building healthy and prosperous communities. It is astounding and I can relate with it because I have seen first hand the impact of poor sanitation on households. I was born and raised in Mukuru Kwa Ruben, one of Nairobi’s informal informal settlements where inadequate access to toilets and safe waste management contributed to environmental pollution and rampant hygiene-related illnesses. Joining Sanergy would give me an opportunity to support my community in tackling these challenges.
How has your role enabled you to achieve this goal?
Since I joined Sanergy’s customer support unit in 2012, I have worked with our network of over 2,000 Fresh Life Operators, supporting them to ensure that urban residents have access to a safe and hygienic sanitation service whenever they need it. I have also been involved in building communications and waste management technologies that lead to an efficient service enjoyed by our customers throughout.
Undertaking this role has helped me better understand the root causes of inadequate sanitation in our community and therefore empowered me to provide sustainable solutions to them. Over the years, we have cleaned up Mukuru one toilet at a time to reach more than 900 facilities in the area alone.
What has helped to keep you motivated throughout your profession?
Seeing how transformed our community has become as a result of our committed efforts. All entrepreneurs we work with, majority of whom are women, have been committed to see the end of open defecation and unsafe waste management in our community. I have a lot of admiration for my mother who has already invested in 4 Fresh Life Toilets and continues to create awareness on the need for safe sanitation for everyone. At the same time, I have been fortunate to work with inspiring leaders at Sanergy whose guidance and collaborative spirit have helped us accelerate our reach.
Florence has been instrumental in the distribution of hygiene products to our customers towards the fight against COVID-19
In light of International Women’s Day, how has Sanergy contributed to accelerating safe sanitation for women and girls?
Women and girls are at the heart of Sanergy’s work and this is because inadequate access to safe sanitation services have rendered them vulnerable. In Mukuru, it is difficult for women to go out in the night to access a toilet as it may not be safe for them. Among young teenage girls, it is difficult to go to a school that does not have private facilities for menstrual management. Sanergy has focused efforts on working with entrepreneurs, particularly women to provide quality and cost-effective sanitation solutions for their communities. We believe that empowered women empower other women and together we build lasting change in our societies.
You are the operations lead in Kisumu city, where we recently expanded our sanitation services, how do you feel about this new role? What do you have planned for Kisumu residents?
I am thrilled to see my role evolve a great deal during my tenure at Sanergy, It is both a great motivation and challenge for my career growth. As regards my plans for Kisumu residents, I am ready to give our customers a stellar safe and hygienic sanitation experience! I believe that good customer service is one of the most important pillars that will enhance our growth to reach 20,000 people by the end of the year.
Florence with colleagues during the launch of Kisumu’s first Fresh Life Toilet on World Toilet Day – 2020