Guest Article: Our Experience at the East African Girls' Leadership Summit

by Nurturing Minds | The SEGA Girls' School

Last year from December 9-13, five lucky Form Two SEGA students had the opportunity to attend EAGLS (East African Girls Leadership Summit). EAGLS is an annual summit in Nairobi that brings together youth and their mentors from throughout East Africa to develop creative leadership and build a strong regional network of empowered women and girls.This year, the Summit had 59 girls attend from 8 different countries. The Summit’s intention is to build girls’ personal leadership skills including their self-confidence, public speaking, creative thinking, and collaboration. Moreover than this, the Summit works to increase girls’ knowledge of their rights and introduces creative tools for advocacy so that the girls are able to work towards and advocate for change. The Summit is unique in how it also incorporates a creative component and infuses the arts in a way that makes the activities more accessible, experiential, and memorable for the attending girls. For example, this year one of the topics was girls’ rights to education, health, safety, economic opportunities, security, and citizenship. Rather than holding a series of lectures on these rights, instead the girls were broken out into teams to each explore one of these rights in depth. The girls then were tasked with developing a skit to share what it would look like to achieve universal fulfillment of the right and to demonstrate how obstacles might stand in the way of this and how these obstacles might be overcome.

EAGLS this year was memorable in a few special ways. First, artists were brought in to attend the Summit so that the girls had support in learning how to use art and creativity as an advocacy tool. Second, an onsite visit to the UN offices in Nairobi was incorporated, which helped frame the girls’ advocacy efforts in their school and communities as part of a larger global effort for girls’ education and gender equality; additionally, it tied in themes of climate change and the importance of protecting our environment. And finally, they released the second edition of the girls’ workbook, which is a document that includes critical input from women leaders who previously used the first edition workbook to start girls’ clubs. The mentors attending the Summit also received the workbook so that they are able to to support the girls in their efforts to setup clubs after the Summit. EAGLS is truly a very special event that greatly benefited its attendees- the girls who attended the Summit have now joined a growing network of female leaders and change makers, they have newly developed leadership abilities, and they have gained invaluable skills that will allow them to challenge the norms that stand in the way of their rights. One of the SEGA attendees shared an insightful quote that captures what she learned from her time at EAGLS: “I am glad I was selected to join the summit this year. I learned a lot of things like the culture from different places among Africa and I have learned that girls can stand up and speak for themselves.” Zawadi Julian Dastan, 2020 Form Three Student.

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