East African Girls' Leadership Summit and Mentor Program

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. Read more about how we're supporting girls during COVID-19.

The Challenge

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. 

Our Model


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. 


Online Courses

The Creative Action Institute team has taken our dynamic leadership trainings and creatively adapted them to an online format for those with access to the internet.  Through a 10 session series, groups will participate in interactive and collaborative learning approaches that cultivate leadership, critical analysis and problem solving, meaningful collaboration, and creative advocacy skills. For those with limited bandwidth, self-guided versions are available, accompanied by SMS-based learning prompts, to ensure all of our partners can continue their learning and skill-building during the pandemic.


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.


Sauti ya Dada

Because girls have returned home, which in many cases are in rural areas, it is harder for them to access resources that are essential not only to their health and safety, but to their pursuit of education. For this reason, we have created the Sauti ya Dada ("The Girl's Voice") program, through which we ensure that girls in all types of communities have the support and supplies they need to grow their leadership and resilience during this uncertain time.

Adapted Programming for 2020-2021

The limitations imposed by the pandemic meant a rethinking of our programming to ensure we provided meaningful and safe support to our partners. Designed with input from all of our partners in the field, our new and adapted programming was created to ensure that regardless of location and access to internet, our grassroots leaders receive uninterrupted support and essential resources so that they can continue to grow in leadership and resiliency during this uncertain time. Here are some ways we've innovated and reinvented our programming during COVID-19:

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


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:

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.

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).