Powerwoman 6: Daphne Muchai

29-05-2020

Agriterra trained 14 strong willed female (future) leaders in the first ever ‘Female Leadership in Agricultural Cooperatives Masterclass’, held in Kenya. The group is composed of Zambian, Ugandese and Kenyan participants, representing organisations that are active in coffee, dairy, sunflower or credit and saving.

Main purpose of the masterclass is to strengthen the leadership skills of these women. These highly motivated cooperative leaders return full of energy and ambitions back to their respective cooperatives, better equipped to take up their leadership roles and make a change contributing to closing the gender gap in agricultural cooperatives.

Powerwoman 6: Daphne Muchai (56) from the Women Farmers’ Association of Kenya (WoFaAK) 

Daphne Muchai is 56 years old and was born in Meru county, Kenya. She is the third born of five siblings, having two older brothers. Daphne grew up in a rural setting, which meant that, being the elder daughter, she had to do all the household chores and farm work. Her parents, who were Christians, encouraged her to be a leader at family and church level, but, having been brought up among boys, she always had to fight for space and respect. 

After her high school education, Daphne went to college and obtained a diploma in agriculture. She paid for her first and second degree herself. She worked for the Ministry of Agriculture for twenty-five years as an extension worker and later joined the National Farmers’ Organisation where she worked for eleven years. Daphne has been married for 25 years and has two grown-up daughters.  

"If women use their strength and believe in themselves, they can be successful." 

When her parents passed away, Daphne was made responsible for the fair distribution of the family assets among the five children. This is how her ‘leadership journey’ began. Almost immediately after, she joined women welfare groups and was elected as chairperson of many church, welfare and development groups. Currently, she is the director of a women savings & investment group in Nairobi. She says that the leadership positions gave her the opportunity to grow and develop her leadership skills, which eventually lead her to founding her own organisation.  

In 2017, Daphne founded the Women Farmers’ Association of Kenya (WoFaAK) whose aim is to bridge the gap to women farmers’ leadership. The idea to set up a Kenya-based organisation was born after an interaction with a German rural women organisation during an annual conference. Daphne mobilised a few women with a background of agriculture and community development  who were willing to join her in developing leadership and developmental skills for the rural women and youth mentors. She is the organisation’s founder and current executive director.

Daphne says that being a woman leader for over 35 years now,  hasn’t exactly been a walk in the park. She has had her ups and downs. “It isn’t always easy to find women who are willing to believe in you and in your work,” she says, “and if they do, some have set high expectations for you.” During the organisation’s foundation, she had to deal with the discouragement of the development partners, who are generally reluctant to support the initial development of organisations and only want to work with the successful ones. Through the ups and downs, Daphne learnt that her family’s support, her holding on to honesty and integrity, her self-sacrifice and, most importantly, her determination in what she believes in lead to her success as a woman leader.

Because of her expertise in gender and rural women development, Agriterra engaged Daphne as an agripooler for the first Female leadership training in 2017. Later, she provided trainings for other Agriterra clients in Kenya and recently in South Sudan. As an agripooler, and a director of her own women organisation, she encourages rural women to challenge themselves. She says that, if women use their strength and believe in themselves, they can be successful. 

 


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