Safe Spaces

Founded in early 2008 by Peninah Nthenya Musyimi, Safe Spaces Africa is a young organization run by and for adolescent girls and young women in Eastlands, Kenya. Because of poverty and cultural norms in Kenyan slums, girls are often forced to marry very early and are severely more vulnerable to HIV. They face sexual violence and physical exploitation, heightened parental resistance to activities outside the home and systematic discrimination in attaining positions of power and leadership.

Safe Spaces organises basketball, yoga, dance and weekly discussion sessions facilitated by young women leaders in the programs. They talk specifically about the various issues that affect young females in the slums. More than 200 girls participated in its after-school programs in 2009, and Safe Spaces is piloting the first slum girls' basketball league in Eastlands. They're also increasing community outreach to sensitize the public about the importance of girls' empowerment.

Safe Spaces puts an emphasis on encouraging every girl to develop her talent. They believe that "everyone is a teacher and everyone is a student." Girls create activities based on their strengths either in music, a certain game, theater, poetry or dancing. Once her strength is identified, a girl teaches others how it is done, thus encouraging practice of leadership and building self-esteem.