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Leadership Redefined at the East African Girls' Leadership Summit

“What I’ve learned from the Summit is that girls can advocate in the challenges that they face in their communities regardless of the belief that community members and leaders have that girls can’t do anything.” - Karen, Kenya

For five days in January, 46 adolescent girls from Tanzania, Kenya, and Rwanda gathered in Nairobi, for the long-anticipated return of the East African Girls’ Leadership Summit or EAGLS.

Girls who attend the Summit are part of our two-year Sauti ya Dada leadership program. During the past year, the girls in Sauti ya Dada organized creative advocacy projects in their communities to catalyze change around behaviors that are barriers to gender equality and girls’ education. For example, girls in the Sauti ya Dada club in Jinja, Uganda, worked with a theater artist to create a community performance, including skits and dance, to raise awareness of the harmful effects of child marriage on girls.

The Summit provided a unique platform for the girls to share their advocacy projects, deepen their advocacy skills, and learn about climate justice - a new area of focus for the Summit.

After learning about what causes climate change, the girls analyzed how it disproportionately impacts girls due to pre-existing gender inequalities, which results in reduced access to education and increased rates of child marriage and other forms of gender-based violence. Girls also learned that they have an important role to play in climate justice solutions! They learned about advocacy efforts undertaken by girl climate justice leaders and met with inspiring women leaders working in climate activism in Nairobi.

At the Summit, and throughout our work, girls experience and learn that leadership is participatory, creative, and collaborative, and those closest to the challenges no matter their age, gender, ability, household income, etc., should be centered in developing solutions. This approach often challenges notions of what it means to be a leader.

Sauti ya Dada means “the girls’ voice” in Kiswahili, and the program is founded in the belief that girls have a voice, can make decisions for themselves, and can take action to make change in their communities. The participatory and creative leadership and advocacy skills that the girls learn at the Summit are carried back home with them as they continue to advocate for gender equality and climate action across East Africa.

Through this important program, seeds are sewn to sprout grassroots change through a new generation of change-leaders. Thank you to all our donors and funders that make this important work possible! With your continued support, we hope to expand the Summit to include even more girls next year.

See photos from this year's Summit below:


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