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#TimeisNow Young Women in East Africa Transforming Lives and Communities

“This year’s International Women’s Day theme captures the vibrant state of women activists worldwide whose passion and commitment has transformed women’s rights over the generations, and successfully brought change. We celebrate an unprecedented global movement for women’s rights, equality, safety and justice, recognizing the tireless work of the women who came before us and who have been central to this global push for gender equality.” Statement by Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director, UN Women for International Women’s Day

Creative Action Institute is honored to work with so many girls and women around the world who are courageously advancing gender equality. Today we are celebrating the diverse young women who are part of our East African Girls’ Leadership Summit and Mentor Program and are using creative tools to advance gender equality. We celebrate their efforts that have resulted in more girls enrolling and staying in school, girls speaking up about sexual harassment and accessing justice, women saying no to domestic and gender-based violence and raising their voices loud and clear on harmful practices of FGM, reduced cases of teenage pregnancy and increased numbers of girls taking up leadership positions in schools and community initiatives. We also deeply appreciate our funding partners who have been instrumental allies in our efforts to achieve gender parity through their support of the East Africa Girls Leadership Initiative - a collaboration that is continuously nurturing the next generation of transformative girls' and women leaders.

We celebrate the big and the small gains, the persistent push and fight for girls’ and women’s rights as these steps bring us closer to the goal of achieving gender parity. #Pressforprogress #TimeisNow #SDG5

We asked the mentors in our East African Mentors Program to share why they work to advance gender equality and this is what they said. 

"Seeing the lives of children with disabilities transformed inspires me every single day, I am excited when the children we serve learn to walk, talk, feed themselves, bathe, groom and clothe themselves. They are able to zip buttons, adjust braces, cut nails, brush teeth and many other skills.  I am also inspired when the girls in our Waridi Girls Initiative gain confidence and knowledge on how they can advocate for their rights. Girls with disabilities suffer double discrimination because of their gender and impairment and are more likely to be victims of physical and sexual abuse.”

Maria Omare (center top), is the Executive Director of The Action Foundation (TAF), a youth led, volunteer based, grassroots organization in Kenya located in Kibera slums that was established in 2010. Learn more about them here.

“Walking to and fro eight kilometers a day to school gives some time to think and meet great young girls. Every evening young girls would wait by the road side to greet me and inquire what I do every day at Loima Girls Secondary School. They would be carrying their brothers and sisters on their backs, and beautifully colored beads adorned their necks. I would come to realize that the beads meant they were reserved for marriage, some of them only nine years old, and would be married within the next few years."

Sharon Murumba (center) currently serves as teacher at Milimatatu Girls High School in Turkana County. She is also the founder of Girls’ Castle, which advocates for girls’ right to education.

“In a bid to increase the number of leaders who consider political leadership to be about the next generation and not just the next election, Girls to Lead Africa was founded.  Our goal is to nurture a critical mass of female transformative leaders right from the level where elective leadership begins; the school.”

Honest Kansiime is the founder of Girls to Lead Africa and is based in Kanungu, Uganda. Learn more about them here.

“I am working with girls because I want them to be confident; for them to stand on their feet and say what they want and know how to deal and cope with different situations that life may bring to them. I want them to be aware of their rights and for them to see the different opportunities available for them and how they can uplift their communities.”

Jane (right) works as a counselor and a life skills teacher, in Sega Girls High School, in Mogororo, Tanzania. Learn more about Jane’s work here.

“Girls education led us to work on girls’ rights issue. Seeing a girl not getting the opportunity to go to school and realizing that this leads to the cycle of poverty led us to recognize how powerful girls’ education can be in changing the future of individuals and communities.

Seeing positive impact such as powerful changes on how women are positioned in Tanzania and girls getting high quality education plus becoming resilient, confident leaders who give back to their communities keep us going every day.”

Magdalena (right) and Subira (left) work for Africaid, which supports girls’ education in Africa in order to provide young women with the opportunity to transform their own lives and the futures of their communities.

“I developed an interest in working with girls and women after I met Jennifer a class 7 girl in Kibera Laini Saba Slum. She made a decision to quit school because she had met an older man who was providing for her needs. Even with her decision to stay out of school, I kept encouraging her and reminding her that she could always go back to school and how education can take her places. She got pregnant, gave birth and decided to go back to school. She told me she wanted to go back to school but does not know how to fit anymore mostly because she was a mother and she might go through a lot of ridicule. She asked me how to go about it. The hope she had in me made me want to give hope to many others.” 

Maghema (right) works as a program officer with Flying Kites, based in Njabini, Kenya.

For Komera, we believe that gender equality is a moral imperative. We recognize that gender bias is still embedded in our cultures and institutions and this affects our decision making as women and girls and we continuously strive to enable girls and women to outstand the bias, know their rights and make their own decisions without the influence of men as society brands it.”

Ruth, Annete, Rosemary and Dativah work with Komera, a leadership development organization for girls and young women in Rwanda. Learn more about them here.

“I have chosen to work with girls because I believe girls are worth more than silver and gold. They have passed through fire and shine like gold throughout the world. I am passionate about seeing a girl smile, inside and out.”

Pauline works in the guidance and counselling department in Sega Girls High School.

“I started working with girls, as I have always had the passion to work in marginalized areas to initiate development. I thought the best way to bring the area to be at par with the rest is by supporting girls and women through school by giving scholarships.”

Shanu Abudho (third from left) and Susan Sora (right) work with girls who are part of the Northern Kenya Fund in Marsabit District in Kenya. Learn more about them here.

“I am a beneficiary of a leadership and mentorship incubator for young women run by young women. The exposure to these outstanding young women, in collaboration with the support from my family and community, led me to realize that the younger the exposure to girls’ and youth rights, the greater the impact.”

Sharon Kate Ng’ang’a (second from right) is the Founder of My Mental Matters, which raises awareness and develops positive mental practices among Kenyan youth.

“What led me work with this group of girls is that I have a passion to serve the less fortunate and the neglected. It gives me joy when I see them empowered.”

Nipher Okemwa is at teacher at WISER Girls Secondary School. WISER empowers girls to overcome poverty, HIV/AIDS, and gender based-violence and creates an environment that allows young women to drive change in their communities. Learn more about them here.


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