Fixing a Gap for Our Staff
Since last year, 97 percent of women working at One Acre Fund report feeling more able to advocate for themselves. 92 percent feel more confident speaking up when they see something is wrong, and 90 percent report being more likely to volunteer to lead meetings.
Exactly one year ago, One Acre Fund Kenya launched the Women’s Leadership Council, aimed at supporting, mentoring, and enabling female staff to reach their full professional potential at One Acre Fund. Another goal was to ensure female staff—many of whom are mothers — are able to enjoy a healthy balance between their home and work responsibilities.
Two fierce champions of this cause have been Eclay Munala and Mercy Samita, who together help chair the Women’s Leadership Council at our headquarters in Bungoma, Kenya.
“I used to have issues being confident in what I did,” Eclay says, “but the Women’s Leadership Council has helped me realize my confidence and assume more responsibility.”
Eclay Munala joined One Acre Fund five years ago working in data entry. Today, a half a decade later, she has been promoted five times and now helps manage the entire country’s field operations. As a mother of two young boys—Ryan and Brian—she has had to work hard to balance both her accelerating career and her growing family.
“The thing I am most proud of is my career growth at One Acre Fund. I am also proud to work at a place that is committed to developing women and creating activities that can help us as women grow professionally, while also allowing us to develop our homes and our families,” Eclay says.
Mercy Samita, Eclay’s co-chair of the Women’s Leadership Council, echoes the sentiment that sometimes, success boils down to confidence.
“Believing in yourself will lead you to success,“ Mercy says. “I used to have issues being confident, but through the Women’s Leadership Council, I have learned that if you believe something is the right decision, you should do it confidently. I’ve applied this to my work, and it’s made a big difference.”
Since the launch of the Women’s Leadership Council, we have seen how supporting women in striking a healthy work-life balance pays off. 46 percent of our most recent promotions to the field leadership team were women and 48 percent of our middle-level managers are female. Women themselves have also seen a difference, as 95 percent report an improvement in hitting performance targets and remaining organized, punctual, and present in their work.
“Our trainings on SMART Work planning have been so helpful!” Eclay says. “Since learning how to set Specific, Measurable, Realistic and Timebound goals for my work, I have been able to finish my daily duties on time, giving me more time to spend with my two sons.”
For a working mother in Kenya, creating more time for family and personal endeavors is more easily said than done.
“A woman is expected to perform many roles, both at home and at work.” Eclay says. “The huge challenges and stresses she faces on daily basis while executing all these roles and managing all these responsibilities are hardly realized and acknowledged by people surrounding her. It can be so challenging to balance everything, and to know how to prioritize or manage things.”
Mercy and Eclay are just two examples of the impact the Women’s Leadership Council is having. While they show us the potential of investing in women leaders, they also remind us that there is still so much more work to be done to support women as both mothers and professionals.
“As we go into our second year, I am hoping the Women’s Leadership Council will help bring about more confident women,” Mercy says. “Women who can stand up and speak for themselves, women who can make decisions for themselves, and ultimately more women at the top, managing the organization successfully.”