Women Educational Researchers of Kenya (WERK) is a Professional Association of researchers in education and social science. Though the seeds were sown earlier in 1993, the name WERK was formally adopted in 1995/96 and registered in 2000. It does not discriminate on grounds of race, ethnicity, religion gender or nationality. However, prospective members have to demonstrate commitment to the goals of WERK.
During this period, WERK was operating as a working group and embarked on the projects related to women empowerment.
The main activities revolved around identifying key historical and political women and developing their stories. The historical women figures that were identified included:
Menyaziwa wa Menza (aka Ole Mekatilili)- who was a freedom fighter from Coast; Wangu wa Makeri – freedom fighter from Central; Mang’ana Ogonje Nyar Ugu – was the first African female colonial chief in Western Kenya; Moraa Moka Ngiti – a female freedom fighter from Nyanza (Kisii); Field Marshall Muthon – a freedom fighter from Central; Eiokalaine O-M’barugu-an assistant chief in pre-independent Kenya in Eastern; Jemima Gecaga- First woman to be nominated in the legislative council (Legco), Priscilla Ingasiani Abwao- the woman who attended the Legco in Lancaster house.
During this period, WERK made major strides in bringing to the fore women who were involved in various development sectors and those involved in politics. The stories and experiences of various women were profiled most of whom are currently in politics or development. Some of the women in politics who were researched on include Hon. Josephine Sinyo, Hon. Mary Wanjiru, Hon. Catherine Nyamato, Hon. ZipporahKitonny, Hon. Charity Ngilu, Hon. Beth Mugo, Hon MarerewaMwachai, Hon. Miriam Matano, Hon. Tabitha Sei, Hon. Grace Muema, and Hon. Martha Karua.
Some of the women in development who were researched on include Dr EddahGachukia (an educationalist), Prof. Wangari Maathai (an environmentalist), Prof. Florida Karani (an educationalist), Prof. Leah Marangu (an educationalist), Elizabeth Masiga (a senior civil servant in education), Rev Lucie Okuthe ( a religious leader), Ms Jane Nyambura (a religious leader), Ms Mary Okelo (a banker), Dr Jennifer Riria (a corporate leader), Margaret Githinji (senior civil servant), Ms Rebecca Njau (a writer), MsAsha Suleiman (a journalist), Ms Ruth Waithera (an athlethe), Ms Monica Muloko (a trade unionist), Lady Justice Effie Owuor (a judge). By 2000, WERK had created enough goodwill from different stakeholders through strong leadership of the then Chairperson to start involving in various developmental and educational researches for various organizations
By 2001, WERK had formed strong linkages and was the organisation of choice for researches in development and education. This led to it becoming the focal point in Kenya for the Girls Education Movement that was headquartered in Uganda. The Seminar series that had been launched the previous year had picked up and an extensive research on street children was undertaken.
This period saw WERK re-assess, re-evaluate and re-strategize to ensure that it remained relevant to the society. The Executive Committee used the year 2007 to embark on aon new strategic focus of programme implementation while at the same time retaining research as an important precursor to all programming. WERK began the process of sourcing for project based funding and managed to access funding for Orphaned and Vulnerable Children (OVCs), a project that ran through the period.
WERK was greatly revitalized during this period. Hosting of Uwezo Kenya initiative became the main re-launch pad for WERK. With time WERK has steadily transformed itself from being a purely research based organization to one with capacity to undertake national projects such as Uwezo. Other significant projects include: Education for Minorities, School Safety and Opportunity Schools. This is in addition to numerous studies across the board from education to gender based violence based studies (see details in WERK Organization programme report).
To achieve the above stated goals, WERK has been working with in partnership with likeminded organizations with a view to having a vibrant and community of practice. The core team is made up of the following organizations: