Meet the Future: East Africa’s Young Women Leaders

With funding support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, we have expanded the Young Women’s Leadership Initiative to East Africa–in Kenya and Tanzania. Global Fund for Women is working with 40 young women from 20 women’s rights organizations across Kenya and Tanzania, to strengthen their leadership and support them as they create and implement their own community projects to create social change. The initiative in East Africa is currently in its first year, and Global Fund for Women will be tracking the initiative’s progress. As the initiative begins, meet some of the young women who are building our future.

Sekela Mwaipaja, Tanzania

“I have to represent other young women, because when I look back to where I’m coming from, not everybody gets a chance to stand up for themselves or other people. So being a young leader to me means a lot. It means I have to carry agendas that maybe other people would have wanted to carry, but they do not have a platform.” –Sekela Mwaipaja, Femina Hip, Tanzania

“Being a young leader to me means a lot. It means I have to carry agendas that maybe other people would have wanted to carry, but they do not have a platform.” –Sekela Mwaipaja (right)

Phoebe Nyawira, Kenya

“Growth means I have created space for another woman. I want to see such an impact where I can be able to see what I have achieved from the point where I joined and when I leave. What keeps me going is the reality that community work is not easy but it’s very rewarding. You can see the journey—where you’ve started and where you’ve gotten to.” –Phoebe Nyawira, Centre for Domestic Training and Development, Kenya

“Growth means I have created space for another woman.” –Phoebe Nyawira, Kenya

Mercy Musyoka, Kenya

“In the future I’d like to see girls learning to love themselves, because once you love yourself it radiates to everything around you—from your work, from your education, from everything. So in as much as we will, like for example, we can mentor [girls], if at the end of the day they still look down upon themselves then it wouldn’t be an impactful journey for them. And I feel like that’s where I want to be—in a society where girls in the future love themselves.” –Mercy Musyoka, Fortress of Hope, Kenya

“In the future I'd like to see girls learning to love themselves, because once you love yourself it radiates to everything around you.” –Mercy Musyoka, Fortress of Hope, Kenya

Wilter Mutile, Kenya

“I really like standing up for myself. I really like speaking for myself. I don’t like people oppressing me. I’ve grown from a rural area where we are taught girls are supposed to be a certain way, that me as a girl I’m supposed to be like this and my brother is supposed to be like that. This doesn’t add up for me. At some point I thought that I really wanted to raise my voice for everyone to hear.” –Wilter Mutile, Fortress of Hope, Kenya

“I really like speaking for myself. At some point I thought that I really wanted to raise my voice for everyone to hear.” –Wilter Mutile, Fortress of Hope, Kenya

Lineth Masala, Tanzania

“I’m a feminist. I want to address the challenges of other women in my society, in my country, on my continent, and all over the world. I want to be among the women upcoming that will support other women to know how to address their challenges, and to know how to find solutions for their challenges.” –Lineth Masala (right), Mschiana Initiative, Tanzania

“I'm a feminist. I want to address the challenges of other women in my society, in my country, on my continent, and all over the world.” –Lineth Masala (right), Mschiana Initiative, Tanzania

Edith Nene, Kenya

“I’m very passionate about girls’ empowerment because it’s something that I experienced. In the new future, I’m hoping in seeing a critical mass of young women and girls who are able to stand for their rights, who are able to depend on themselves, and who are able to stand for the rights of other young girls or women.” –Edith Nene, Resource Center for Women and Girls, Kenya

“In the new future, I'm hoping in seeing a critical mass of young women and girls who are able to stand for their rights.” –Edith Nene (Left), Resource Center for Women and Girls, Kenya

Charity Mbesa, Kenya

“I think that gender equality is something we can apply practically in our countries. For example, when we are choosing our leaders, I think the girls can be presidents. I think it will be better if girls are given the same weight. [People] should know the girls can lead as well as boys can.” –Charity Mbesa, Resource Center for Women and Girls, Kenya

Clara Kalanga, Tanzania

“I wish to see young women empowered and questioning inequality. I wish also to see more women in decision-making. If men are the ones who are sitting in the parliament approving the laws and women are not there and they know the specific issues that are affecting them, it will never reach a point of empowerment.” –Clara Kalanga, Tanzania Gender Network Programme, Tanzania

“If men are the ones who are sitting in the parliament approving the laws and women are not there…it will never reach a point of empowerment.” –Clara Kalanga, Tanzania Gender Network Programme, Tanzania

Christina Massao, Tanzania

“I just want to young women being very confident and ready to do things. Where I come from, young girls are like, ‘We cannot do this; we have to wait for elders to start doing it, to see men doing it for us.’ I want to set an example for them that they don’t have to sit and wait. They can take changes and risks and learn and grow.” –Christina Massao, Women Lawyers Association, Tanzania

“I want to set an example for them that they don't have to sit and wait. They can take changes and risks and learn and grow.” –Christina Massao, Women’s Lawyer’s Association, Tanzania

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Courageous women and girls around the world are demanding power and resources to realize their rights. Join them and raise your voice in the fight for gender equality.