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East African Girls' Leadership Summit & Mentor Program

Each year Creative Action Institute organizes and facilitates the East African Girls’ Leadership
Summit (EAGLS Regional)
, which brings together East African girls to build their creative leadership and advocacy skills so they can catalyze change by breaking down barriers to girls’ education and gender equality in their communities and beyond. 

Each year there are more girls who want to participate than we can host. To solve this
challenge, we are scaling EAGLS through national-level summits, which will mirror EAGLS Regional, bringing our field-tested leadership curriculum to girls in rural and remote places.

For more information about our national-level summits or EAGLS Regional, please check out our events page or contact Veronica Thamaini.

The Story

Girls' education is a critical piece to gender equality and a key lever for changing the world. The more education girls receive, the more they are able to earn, support their families (if and when they choose to have them), and be leaders in their communities. We want all girls to be able to attend school. 

However, 49 million girls are out of school in Sub-Saharan Africa, and 31 million of them are out of secondary school. Many social practices signal to East African girls that that they do not belong in school. For example: 

  • Families prioritize resources on educating boys over girls: If resources are scarce or become scarce, girls are not sent to school.

  • Child Marriage: Child marriage often keeps girls from starting school or removes them from school once a marriage is arranged, which can be as early as age 8. 40% of girls in Sub-Saharan Africa are married before age 18. 

  • Lack of access to sexual and reproductive health and services, resulting in teen pregnancies: Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest rate of teen pregnancies in the world, 33% of teens in Uganda, 28% in Tanzania, and 26% in Kenya become pregnant before age 18. 

The East African Girls' Leadership Summit (EAGLS) and Mentor Program uniquely pairs girls' leadership development with mentor training and support, empowering girls to activate their leadership skills to address the range of barriers to girls' education and advance gender equality when they return to their communities. 


Build creative leadership and advocacy skills via the annual East African Girls’ Leadership Summit, equipping girls to be active change makers in their schools, communities and beyond.


Provide a platform for girls and mentors to determine a critical topic they want to address through creative advocacy efforts coordinated across East Africa. 


Develop mentorship, facilitation and advocacy skills among African women working with EAGLS changemakers, through the two-year mentor program. 


Support mentors throughout the year in their creative advocacy efforts with the girls by providing access to mini-grants, coaching calls, creative advocacy how-to toolkits and site visits.

The Model

The goal of this program is to create a network of female leaders who use creative leadership and coordinated advocacy efforts to bring about gender equality in East Africa. To do this we:

Art and creativity are infused throughout the program to unlock leadership potential and as a tool that can be deployed to catalyze change in schools and communities.

Why it Works

We believe that girls’ leadership and advocacy skills paired with women mentors who are equipped to activate and guide girls’ advocacy efforts, is a winning recipe for moving the needle on gender equality. More importantly, program participants reflect this to be true. Laetitia is a 16 year-old Rwandan girl who participated in EAGLS last year. 

Laetitia’s reflection perfectly illustrates how this program not only develops personal leadership skills but also empowers girls to make changes in her community that advance gender equality. Paired with a mentor, Laetitia has the support and guidance she needs to engage her peers and her community to stop gender-based violence.

“This program has

helped me be confident

and courageous. I now believe that I have the ability to make decisions and make changes in my community, and I want to teach my school mates how they can stop gender-based violence.”

The Impact

Since 2014, 231 girls and 76 mentors at 35 organizations in 5 countries have participated in EAGLS. As a result of the program, girls and mentors initiated creative advocacy efforts that shift attitudes, change behavior and effect policy reform on gender equality, female genital mutilation, child marriage, girls’ education, sexual and reproductive health education, and teen pregnancies. (Sustainable Development Goals 3, 4 and 5.) In 2018 there were 61 documented creative advocacy efforts that reached over 10,900 people.

We are excited to be a part of the Girls Opportunity Alliance, an initiative of the Obama Foundation that is empowering girls through education worldwide. 

The world needs powerful women and girl leaders able to advocate for their rights, including a right to education!​

We've joined the Girls Opportunity Alliance!