Jill Biden talks about safe sex and condoms to young adults in Kenya
NAIROBI, Kenya — It was a Saturday of learning for US first lady Jill Biden in Kenya.
She praised young adults for learning about safe sex and dating practices, attended a meeting of women starting their own banking system and spoke with local entrepreneurs helped by a program that connects tractor owners and farmers.
All three programs aim to help women and young people take control of their lives so they can support themselves and their families. During a five-day, two-country visit to Africa this week, Biden highlighted U.S.-backed efforts to strengthen these groups.
“These are issues that everyone really needs to talk about, but somehow they don’t talk about it, and when they don’t talk about it, the consequences are so terrible,” Biden told dozens of young people after talking to them about safe sex, condoms. use and contraception at the Shujaaz Konnect Festival, a local youth empowerment event. “So I like to see the young people here.”
In a tent where young people were having networking conversations, he was shown a questionnaire to stimulate discussion. The first question is, “What would you say if I told you that I now have a condom in my pocket?”
Biden laughed. “And this is the first time they’ve met?” Asked.
A Shujaaz representative said such blunt suggestions help teenagers and young adults overcome their shyness, saying that sometimes it’s easier to ask strangers such questions.
“I’m surprised you don’t start with, ‘What is your greatest achievement?’ instead of “I have a condom in my pocket,” the first lady said.
The festival was created in collaboration with the MTV Staying Alive Foundation, which works with the United States Agency for International Development and the President’s Emergency AIDS Relief Plan to help teach young people in Kenya how to avoid HIV infection, which causes AIDS.
Biden, who is on the fourth day of a five-day trip to Namibia and Kenya, this week touted HIV/AIDS education programs and initiatives to teach women and young people the skills they need to find jobs or start businesses.
His visit is part of President Joe Biden’s commitment to deepen the United States’ relationship with nations in Africa, many of which feel neglected by the United States. Part of that effort is to offset China’s influence on the continent, which Beijing has achieved through increased trade and spending on roads and other public works projects.
Biden is scheduled to wrap up his visit by traveling to an area near the Kenya-Tanzania border on Sunday to raise awareness of the severe drought that threatens lives and livelihoods.
On Saturday, the first lady went to a government community center in Kibera, an informal settlement in Nairobi, to attend a meeting of small business owners participating in the Joyful Women program. Founded in 2009 by Rachel Ruto, Kenya’s first lady, the program supports women’s economic empowerment and financial inclusion.
Participants create “table banking” groups, pooling their resources to lend each other money they cannot get from traditional banks. Some of the women used the loans to start a business. A woman said she opened a daycare center.
“It’s pretty brilliant that women have found ways to support other women to uplift them and increase the economic well-being of families, isn’t it?” said Biden, who visited another empowerment program in Kibera in 2010.
“I’ve always taught my own daughter and my granddaughter the importance of financial independence, so now here you have found a way to set up your own banking system, which is pretty incredible,” Biden said. Her granddaughter Naomi, 29, was sitting nearby.
Before sitting down at the table, Biden was wrapped from the waist down in an apron-like garment called a lesbo or kanga, which women wear at home.
At a separate event, Biden spoke with local entrepreneurs, small farmers and others helped by Hello Tractor, which connects tractor owners with farmers who need the machinery.
The first lady also laid a wreath at the August 7th Memorial Park for those who died in the 1998 bombings against the US embassies in Kenya and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. More than 200 people died, including 12 Americans. More than 4,500 people were injured.