Educate, Engage, Empower -- that's the slogan of Safe Spaces Nairobi, an organization in Nairobi, Kenya that exists to help and empower girls from a specific marginalized area locally referred to as the Eastlands slums.
According to Wikipedia, safe spaces are defined as places created for individuals who feel marginalized to communicate regarding their experience with marginalization. They are primarily found in university campuses in the western world, but sometimes, at workplaces as well. The term may also indicate that the specific place in discussion, perhaps an educational institution or classroom, does not tolerate violence, harassment, or hate speech, hence creating a positive space for members of these marginalized communities. Often, these safe spaces are tailored towards various marginalized identities that span those of religion to race to gender to sexuality, just to name a few.
Naturally, there are arguments against and for the idea of safe spaces. Those for the idea support such positive places as they enable members of "minority" groups to be heard and share their similar experiences in a place where they will be understood -- a place where they can find comfort and just be themselves, unlike the outside world. Yet that's the basis for those who argue against the idea of safe spaces. Opponents argue that safe spaces coddle and weaken participants, not preparing them for the real world. They believe that these spaces reject free speech, and "political correctness" and "language police" corrupt liberalism.
However, safe spaces need not only be about letting the voices of marginalized groups be heard nor rendering participants unprepared for the real world. It can be more powerful than that, as is the case in Safe Spaces Nairobi.
I previously associated safe spaces with just the western world -- the societal issues in Africa are far different from those in the west, and thus, I was intrigued to stumble upon this specific organization.
Safe Spaces Nairobi aims to provide a safe space for girls in the Eastlands slums to not only be heard, but to also learn, develop, and grow into strong qualified women who can escape poverty, violence, and exclusion. They acknowledge that women face different challenges in comparison with their male peers, not limited to violence and systemic exclusion in health, education, and labor, all while carrying the burden of familial and household responsibilities and the risk of forced early marriages, prostitution, early pregnancy, HIV, and sexual exploitation. Their goal is to build a stronger generation of young women that will make a difference in the future and in their communities. Ultimately, Safe Spaces Nairobi is about creating a safe and positive space to listen to these women's struggles, but while preparing them for the outside world as well by educa