While media and business gurus worry about the financial implications of the so-called end of print, Consolata Waithaka in Kenya is busy giving out her magazine to as many women as she can, for free. These seemingly opposing perspectives made me wonder, what content is so valuable to women that someone would work so hard to provide for free? An email interview with Consolata was enough to realize that the free magazines are just a simple means to a priceless end.
Consolata, a marketing and publicity consultant working in the busy central business district of Nairobi, directs the Woman’s Hope Trust and its accompanying Woman’s Hope magazine. She explains, “The magazine highlights the readers on the issues affecting women, while the Trust organizes functions and seminars to educate on the issues.”
Alongside her husband she is also raising two girls and a boy of ages eight, thirteen, and fourteen. She also engages in gender forums, manages a leading outdoor advertising agency, and runs marathons. Consolata describes juggling all these responsibilities as, “challenging, yet satisfying.”
A good indicator of her balancing abilities is the way she involves her children in her work, which has certainly paid off. “They will tell me instead of going for an outing we should visit a needy family.” This year, her children requested to spend Valentine’s Day with a family who had recently lost their mother, leaving the children under the care of an unsympathetic father. Her children’s compassionate attitude stems from Consolata’s example, her priorities, her vision, and her passion “to use all the tools available to empower the Kenyan woman and live life to the fullest, and also to fight inequality which has become too rooted in our society.”
To fight this inequality, she explains that women need to be sensitized and educated about their rights. The monthly magazine Woman’s Hope does just that; it “has become a tool to educate the women especially those who can’t afford to buy themselves the price-tagged magazines,” she explains. “Woman’s Hope gives all women a forum in wide areas to express themselves through real-life stories. It also highlights important areas of empowering the woman in finances, business opportunities, etc.”
Consolata admits that the magazine “has been an uphill battle because of financial constraints,” but with enough sponsors and partners she manages to publish over five thousand free copies each month; during months with fewer funds, that number is reduced to two thousand.
Through the Trust, Consolata and her partners help women implement what the magazine promotes. One of their efforts involves giving women microfinance loans to purchase food they can sell at the market. “The women are able to take their children to school and buy food without relying on the husbands.”
On May 23, Consolata “sweat it out for the needy girls,” as she put it, in a marathon representing Woman’s Hope. Donors sponsor each kilometer and their names go on Consolata’s T-shirt.
Consolata says women from anywhere in the world can contribute articles to the magazine, and she is always looking to partner with other women involved in organizations “dealing with Women issues related to reproduction health, finances, etc. This will be a win-win situation where both parties are getting enough coverage and thus get to the targeted clients,” she explains.
Consolata’s efforts demonstrate that despite the gloom-and-doom predictions, print media is still a powerful tool, especially in the nonprofit arena where many times the audience simply can’t afford the glossies.
Interested sponsors, potential partners, and article contributors can contact Consolata at firstname.lastname@example.org.