Celebrating women and girls in Kenya on International Women's Day

UNICEF, the Australian High Commission, and Kenya’s sole woman matatu designer, launch female-focused van for International Women’s Day

08 March 2018
Girls stand next to a newly designed pubic van (matatu) created to celebrate women and girls.
Special matatu for International Women's Day designed by Tsara 'Arts' Mumbi.

NAIROBI, 8 March 2018 – UNICEF and the Australian High Commission are today launching a special matatu to mark International Women’s Day. The public transport van, created by Kenya’s only female matatu designer, Tsarah ‘Arts’ Mumbi, is inspired by a group of girls and young women living in Mathare and across greater Nairobi.

Ahead of creating the design, Tsarah engaged with 14 girls in a one-day workshop to discuss the challenges they face growing up female in Kenya, and also their hopes for the future. Their voices are reflected in the matatu artwork, which also feature prominent, Kenyan female figures that champion girls’ rights.

This year’s theme for International Women’s Day is “Press for Progress”. Across the world women like Tsarah are making positive gains day by day, but continue to face daily challenges due to being a woman.

Speaking from her workshop in Mathare, Tsarah said, “It has been good to talk to these girls and create something that I hope lifts up girls and women across Nairobi. I encourage all females to be confident, passionate in what they do and to believe in themselves.”

In Kenya, nearly a third of girls suffer some form of sexual violence before they reach 18; and almost one in four girls becomes a child bride.

“The challenges for girls living in Kenya are indisputable; today is a great opportunity to focus on the positive strides young women are making across the world,” said Patrizia DiGiovanni, UNICEF Kenya’s Deputy Representative.

“UNICEF hopes that this creative project influences action to empower girls, such as equipping them with the skills needed to secure jobs, to reduce early and forced marriage and teenage pregnancy, and granting greater access to culturally sensitive reproductive and menstrual health services.”

Matatus, which are the choice mode of transport for most Kenyans, fill the streets of Nairobi adorned with custom artwork and lights. In Nairobi, matatus represent urban youth culture, with around 15 million estimated to be using the network daily.

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Dan Oloo

Communication Specialist


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