Friday, April 11, 2014

Transforming a Girls Life through Soccer

I am an enthusiastic, confident young woman who loves football so much! I recall the first time I kicked a football was when I was about 10 years in primary school, it was amazing how much joy a single ball could bring. I happen to come from a sporty family, my older brother used to play for the Men’s National Football team. I would often listen to matches he played in on the radio. I wanted to be like him, and one day play for national team and my dream came true……

 I would excel in sports so much in school. I played football and netball but football was what I loved the most. My school team would excel so much in football that we would make it to the nationals; my parents would try and stop me from playing football, they wanted me to focus more on my studies.

 The secondary school I was in did not excel so much in football; we only made it to the district level. So after secondary school, I began to play football seriously and joined a football club in Dagoretti known as Dagoretti United Sisters. While playing for Dagoretti United, Mohamed, Binti United Football Club coach spotted me and convinced me to join Binti, which is sponsored by YWLI. 

When I joined Binti, I realized Binti had a lot more to offer and that’s when I decided that was something I wanted to part of . When I was in Binti I would play as well as coach and mentor young girls. I believe that there is a great link between sports and leadership. Sports has a lot more to offer other than just gaining fitness and being on the field and having fun, you gain a lot of personal skills. When you play football you take on roles on the field for example when you are tasked with being captain, this requires you to be resilient, a team player and have good listening skills. These are skills and qualities that you need to apply in your daily life.

Through Binti I gained experience in coaching girls team, I gained managerial skills, I gained leadership skills through attending trainings and forums organized by YWLI that helped boost my skills as a leader. Am currently working with girls who are much older, which is very interesting, many people  have the perception  that it’s difficult to work with girls, but I have discovered a way to get them intrinsically motivated. I expose them to what opportunities are out there for young women.

As a football coach, I strongly believe that girls would benefit from playing sports in their adolescent years. I believe that soccer acts as form of support system for the girls. It offers them a space where they can interact  and gain life skills. For myself, I don’t know where I would have been without football. It has opened doors for me and allowed to excel to great heights.

I believe that a lot more needs to done support girls and women’s football in Kenya. The lack of support makes many girls withdraw from football. The governments support towards girls and women’s football is minimal.  Many parents also do not support there girls to play football as they feel that the girls should be at home assisting with household chores.
I encourage girls who are currently playing to continue, I have seen girls who have been able to pursue higher education through football scholarships.

We can all play a role to ensure that girls and women football grows, through supporting women and girls who play football.

By Caroline Ajowi

Young Women's Leadership Institute (YWLI) is one of the four partner institutes of the African Centers of Excellence (ACE) for Women's Leadership program run by the Institute of International Education (IIE) , Ethiopia Office.

For more on IIE , ACE or YWLI please follow the links below. 

Friday, March 14, 2014

“From Nothing to Something Big”

I was born in 1959 in Addis Ababa, the capital city of Ethiopia. I am the only child for my parents. My parents were separated and I used to live with my father, who was a boxer, and my grandmother. My father always took me to his boxing matches until he died during a party he was invited to celebrate one of his victories. After my father’s death, my mother no longer wanted me to stay with my grandmother and so she took me away with her. 

However, I very much wanted to live with my grandmother and so run away from home and went back to live with grandma right after my mother’s second marriage ended in divorce.
My grandmother was a businesswoman and I assisted in handling her business after school until one of my friends and I decided to withdraw from school and start a business. I became a street newspaper seller. I get the newspaper from a Printing Press and started the business but it didn’t last because I could not stand all the abuse from boys on the street. 

Then I withdrew from school at 4th grade to work for the National Coffee Board of Ethiopia at the age of 11 to support my grandmother. I worked as a coffee picker for a long time with a pay of 75 cents ($.075) per day.

In the year 1985, I got engaged and I am now a mother of four. My husband was a soldier in the Air Force. Our incomes put together never sufficed to satisfy the household needs. In addition to the money I got from the National Coffee Board of Ethiopia, I queued up for long hours to purchase goods with lesser price for both household consumption and to sell. After working for the Coffee Board for 35 years, I resigned from my job due to depression and upon departure was paid 3,000 Birr ($300) for my service of 35 years. The Corporation’s business activity was then closed.

I became a housewife for five years then on. In the meantime, a mother of my daughter’s friend, who was a member of WISE, advised me to join WISE. I was suffering from an illness at the time and so had my daughter, who failed to pass the 10th grade national examination, get registered instead of me. She managed to complete her College studies with the loan she took out after she received WISE’s training. She is now employed.

One day, I went to WISE to repay my daughter’s loan and got myself registered as a member when the secretary told me that both a mother and a daughter at the same time can become members. I applied to become member on that same day which was back in 2010. I then took the training courses which changed me like I was born again.

I learned how to start my own business, which I started with the 1st round of loan I took out which was 700 Birr ($70). However, after taking the creativity and professional development training, I was inspired to engage in the business of selling knitted garments as well in addition to the coffee sailing business I already had up and running. On the New and Viable Business Ideas competition, I then received an award for making knitted dresses and won 2,000 Birr ($190). I was capacitated to be able to provide for my family.

I now have 5,000 Birr ($ 263) in my savings and am eligible for the 4th round of loan which is 5,000 Birr. I have purchased a bank share and was able to raise my share capital from 2,000 Birr to ($105) to 7,000 Birr ($368) within a short period of time. I also once again won 8,000 Birr ($ 421) on the 2006’s New and Viable Business Ideas competition. I am a member of a Cooperative called ‘Wegen Le Wegen’ and one of the members of Committees and I am determined to assume any responsibilities as long as I am a member.

 I have a plan to expand my knitting business by purchasing a sewing machine with the prize money I got; I am tired of the regular rejections I face from the seamstresses claiming a broken/bent needle while sewing my patterns. In addition, I have a plan to buy a washing machine since the clothes get dirty very easily as they are knitted by hand. And in the meantime, I plan to buy a car for my husband so he can have his own cab. He is currently a hired taxi driver.

I advise my sisters to become a member of WISE so that they are no more called housewives but entrepreneurs.

Women in Self Employment (WISE) is one of the four partner institutes of the African Centers of Excellence (ACE) for Women's Leadership Program run by the Institute of Intenrational Education (IIE), Ethiopia Office 

For more on IIE , ACE or WISE please follow the links below.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Smashing Patriarchy!

 I am an emerging leader and a feminist working with the Resource Center for Women and Girls, in Machakos. I grew up in a community where girls faced many challenges and throughout my early life, I always wanted to change this reality for me and other young girls who faced similar challenges.  The difficult thing about being in such a position was getting a platform that would help amplify my voice in a very patriarchal society.

Working with the Resource Center for Women and Girls offered that platform for me. So many opportunities opened up for me including attending the Feminist Leadership Institute in 2011 hosted by Young Women’s Leadership Institute. The leadership institute was an eye opener for me and through some of the lessons learnt and unlearnt in that institute, I have become a better leader. I joined a political party and I am always interested in listening to and criticising any decisions our government makes involving women especially through the Young Women’s Leadership Institute’s platform.

I am in my final year in the University of Nairobi pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology and Philosophy and it is fascinating to see how patriarchal   previous scholars in the academic world were, with very little to read about ancient women scholars, although I’m happy to note that is currently changing.

 I am currently involved in a social change project that collects and distributes sanitary towels to girls in rural Nairobi who drop out of school due to lack of sanitary towels. I am also in the process of partnering with Single Mothers ‘Association of Kenya who sell re-usable sanitary towels and train women on maintaining hygiene during their menses. This is a project I am passionate about because it is very heart breaking to see a young girl with so much potential  missing school every month for 7days due to lack of sanitary towels, and this same girl, given the opportunity could excel in her society, which means less teenage pregnancies, better opportunities for her and reduced poverty levels.

Working with young girls and women is a passion I regard dearly. This is because it is quite evident that given an opportunity and with resources availed to them; women do bring about positive change in society. Women’s challenges are very similar all over the world and their resilience and zeal to overcome them inspires me and makes my passion for my work grow to greater heights.

Getting linked to the Young Women’s Leadership Institute was a golden opportunity for me. I was still new to leadership and feminist related matters and it is through YWLI that I was able to understand better that being a leader in my own way through different projects and assignments leads to many positive changes in the society for me as an individual and for my fellow young women.

I got to expand my network through meeting different young feminists who are promoting social justice in their societies. I learnt and unlearnt in the process and got involved directly and indirectly with different activities through the broad networks I gained from YWLI’s trainings and activities.

YWLI has been a big part in my growth as a leader and I am happy to be able to transfer my skills to the beneficiaries of our Resource Center for Women and Girls program through various activities and also directly through linking some of them to attend the trainings organized by YWLI.

I call myself a feminist because of my attitude and approach towards patriarchy. Patriarchy makes me Mad!! and I don’t understand why in very many parts of the world, women remain oppressed and are treated as inferior either through culture or government practices which do not favour them, while on the other hand when I look at different women even in their small ways, I see so much untapped potential.

It is quite evident that women are usually in the forefront of many changes and developments in the society yet the opportunities availed to them are very limited. Even in the current changing world, we still see some harmful practices intended to intimidate women in their leadership roles especially those in government positions.

Feminism has always been in existence, silently, even during the ancient and medieval times. We still have a long way to go; I can confidently say that the far we have come, it has taken some strong feminists to pave the way for us.

In future, I want to be among the loudest feminists in not only Africa, but also the world. I want  young girls by then to have feminist core values inscribed in them because, it is the feminist values which awaken the inner untapped potential of young girls to fight for their rights and to break free from the shackles of oppression by male dominated societies.
I would like to encourage young women to be the change! Change the world.

Ivy Nyawira

Young Women's Leadership Institute (YWLI) is one of the four partner institutes of the African Centers of Excellence (ACE) for Women's Leadership program run by the Institute of International Education (IIE) , Ethiopia Office.

For more on IIE , ACE or YWLI please follow the links below. 

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

“It is possible to bring change by working hard starting from small in one’s own country”

I was born in 1986 in the western part of Ethiopia called Jimma in a village called Telu.  I am the 5th child for my parents. My upbringing was full of hardships.  My cousin brought me to the capital city of Ethiopia, Addis Ababa promising to send me to school where I used to work during the day and attend school in the evening.  When I reached to the point where I could no longer handle the heavy workload, I went away to live with my uncle.

I got good education until my uncle died of illness and started to live with my relatives but since I couldn’t handle the hardship and pain, I was forced to withdraw from school on 10th grade and decided to go outside of Ethiopia for work.  Assisted by a friend, I travelled to the Middle East in 1998 without consulting my relatives. I didn’t fine the country as comfortable to live in as I expected it would be. Everything turned out to be very difficult and horrible; I even became a victim of attempted rape.  I started to live in a place the agency of domestic workers assigned me to live at without a wage from my first employers for one year.  The household members I have been assigned to work for on my second employment kept me locked inside a house for three consecutive days without food when they went away. This dried and cracked my throat and thus, I couldn’t eat when they offer me food when they returned.  I started to easily get tired since I worked without food. One time, the mother of my employer saw me crying and sent me away to work for another household.

Working for the third household, nothing got better.  I used to cry bitterly when things went beyond my control.  I called for the agency of domestic workers to inform them of my problems with a help of a translator since I could not speak their language.   The agency had been taking my pay when this was happening to me.  I worked for four years without enough sleep.   My employers used to tell me that they would get me a two way airline ticket so that I could visit my family and continue working for them upon return. In 2002, they finally sent me back to Addis Ababa with just a luggage without paying me my salary for the four years of labor.

I got married after I returned from the Middle East and worked with my husband who was an owner of an advertisement company.  Then my husband and I got separated due to conflicts between us.  After the separation, I decided to go back to the Middle East once again but my application was rejected because I was pregnant.  I finally gave birth after a miserable pregnancy.  I started taking care of my child with the money I earned by washing clothes and doing various types of jobs. One time, a member of the organization for Women in Self Employment (WISE) who saw me washing clothes advised me to become a member of WISE.  I agreed and got registered at the organization around the end of the year 2011. Subsequently, I received various trainings that changed my life.  I was able to understand how to start one’s own employment with little money and grow to a higher level.  I maintained a hopeful outlook on that I could make a difference.

Since I was skilled at weaving, I started weaving after buying  sponge and layers of fabric with the first round of loan I took from my cooperative at WISE which was 1,000 Birr ($59).  My capital has now increased from 1,000 Birr ($59) to 7,000 Birr ($412). I won the 2nd place prize for the new and viable business ideas competition arranged by WISE for making gloves and bandages using the by-products from factories which awarded me with additional 1,000 Birr ($59). I began to work from my own shop with the loom I bought with the award money and also purchased a sewing machine with my own money. My products have a high demand in the market. I was able to attract a lot of customers by applying what I have learned. I now know how to manage customers because I have received the marketing training course. I am currently eligible for the 3rd round of loan and have a good sum of money in my savings.

I am a member of a Cooperative called ‘TsinaKirkos’. I don’t have any committee responsibility in my Cooperative.   However, I do my best on my own initiative to increase the savings and credit limits of my Cooperative. I have plans to build my own manufacturing factory in the future. The most important message I want to convey, especially for my sisters who want to go abroad to the Middle East, is that we should build our own business, or do a particular job by thinking big and starting small before we decide to travel and work in the Middle East countries, making our lives miserable.  We can work in our country with freedom by starting small and growing into being something big gradually.  I got to where I am today by starting with a 1,000 Birr ($59) investment. I am confident that I can work even harder and become bigger.

AbenetKidane, TsinaKirkos Savings and Credit Cooperative
Kirkos Sub-city

Women in Self Employment (WISE) is one of the four partner institutes of the African Centers of Excellence (ACE) for Women's Leadership Program run by the Institute of Intenrational Education (IIE), Ethiopia Office 

For more on IIE , ACE or WISE please follow the links below.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Journey to Authentic Leadership
I am a feminist and a communicator by profession. I have always been passionate about Communications. Beyond my high self-esteem, courage and confidence, I aim at being an effective and fearless communicator. I also plan to be of benefit to women as well as my country, Kenya.
My leadership journey began at the age of 19, when I started educating women on poverty eradication in Molo, Nakuru County, Kenya. I strongly believed that a society can be transformed by embracing development. I was so sure that there was a great future for development and a lot needed to be done to address poverty. I worked with women by empowering them with skills such as how to identify economic opportunities and how to access credit to start-up businesses.
I know that my purpose for being involved in development issues is to be a champion for development that is sustainable. After a few years of working with the community and seeing all the positive changes that had taken place, I founded the Communication for Sustainable Development Foundation, a platform that I use to address the issues of Sustainable Development. I got a better opportunity to address the issue of poverty eradication and how to create a poverty free sustainable future under the social pillar of sustainable development.
 In 2012, I saw a call on Facebook for the YWLI Bi-annual Feminist Leadership Institute. I knew this would be a great opportunity for me to build my leadership capacity and make personal connections with a great group of young women. I was over the moon, when I was accepted! At the Institute I went through a phase of self-development during which I sought to understand myself better. I understood who I am and where I am heading to. I learnt that I don’t suffer from any deficiency by being a young woman who is a leader. I learnt that ‘I am enough’. I also got the affirmation that I was on the right path. I discovered that being vocal on issues around me was among my strengths. I redefined the picture of the person I see when I look at myself in the mirror. This has made me redefine my destiny. I learnt that I’m not a weak being, but rather I am a strong woman whose abilities should be anchored more and more.
To date when I stand to speak in any given space I do not forget to say that “I am a feminist”. To celebrate my feminist journey, I started a blog titled: “We the Women, our Journeys” ( This is a safe space for women to share the stories of their journeys. Through the blog, I hope to encourage women that the path they are treading on, is a familiar path that many have walked before. I also hope to use the feminist blog as platform to highlight the issues that women go through.
One thing that was so outstanding during and after the Institute was that I was never alone.
Someone walked in front of me, I was guided correctly. Later someone walked beside me; I always had company and was advised. Finally someone is walking closely behind me, YES, BEHIND ME – to make sure that I am safe and secure. I know that I can count on YWLI, my fellow alumni and the facilitators at all times.
By Esther Mwangi

Young Women's Leadership Institute (YWLI) is one of the four partner institutes of the African Centers of Excellence (ACE) for Women's Leadership program run by the Institute of International Education (IIE) , Ethiopia Office.

For more on IIE , ACE or YWLI please follow the links below. 

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Campaign for Affordable Trastuzumab
Bio-similar of breast cancer drug launched but still out of reach for most
Press Statement, 20 January, 2014

The Campaign for Affordable Trastuzumab welcomes the announcement that the Indian pharmaceutical company Biocon will now market in India the world’s first bio-similar of the breast cancer drug  trastuzumab.

The marketing of the bio-similar so soon after the removal of patent barriers vindicates our stand in challenging and opposing the secondary patents and divisional patents on trastuzumab sought by Roche in India. We urge patient organisations and civil society groups in other countries to remain vigilant and resist similar attempts by pharma majors to reap unethical profits at the cost of millions of lives. 

The bio-similar to be marketed under the brand name of CANMAb is expected to be available in the Indian market from 1 February 2014 and will be sold in 150 milligram or 440 milligram vials.

Announcing the launch of the biosimilar, Ms. Kiran Majumdar-Shaw, CEO Biocon, reiterated her commitment to affordable treatment for Indian women with HER2+ breast cancer.

However, a quick back-of-the-envelope calculation reveals that the introduction of the bio-similar will have little or no impact in terms of expanded access. Many Roche dealers already offer discounts to "steady customers" - patients needing long-term treatment - such that the “street price” of trastuzumab (Herclon) ranges from Rs.55,000/- to Rs.57,000/- for a vial of 440 mg. Biocon’s price for the bio-similar is not significantly lower than what is available from Roche today.

The Roche product (Herceptin)  was first marketed in India at Rs.1,20,000/ with the price being reduced to Rs.92,000/- per 440 mg vial soon after the launch of our campaign. The product was later rebranded as Herclon and is currently priced at Rs.75,000/- per 440 mg vial. The price announced by Biocon is approximately Rs. 56,000 per vial of 440 mg according to the company press release which says that the drug will be priced at 25% less than the current reference price charged by Roche.

In developed countries, the Roche product is sold in vial sizes of 60 mg, 150 mg, and 440 mg. In India, Roche markets only the 440 mg/vial. Since dosage depends on body weight, a patient weighing say 60 kgs and needing 480 mg per dose, was forced to buy two vials at a time. Biocon’s marketing of the 150 mg will increase the ability of a patient to buy the drug in the amount of the drug needed for each dose, rather than raise the money needed for an additional vial of 440 mg.

However, the introduction of the bio-similar will make little or no difference to women whose income is less than Rs.30,000/- per month. For these women – who constitute 75% of the population[1] and include not only the very poor but also the aspiring middle class - CANMAb is as much out of reach as Roche’s Herceptin and Herclon.

Realistically, only families with an income of Rs 75,000/- or more can afford a monthly dose of CANMAb. Such families constitute less than 10% of the population. Biocon's expectation that the introduction of CANMAb will “expand the patient pool” is therefore unlikely to become reality.

We urge Biocon (and its commercial partner the US pharmaceutical company Mylan Laboratories) to demonstrate their commitment to affordable treatment by bringing the price of CANMAb to below Rs. 1000/- for the 150 mg vial and Rs.5000/- for the 440 mg vial. This will not only give Indian women with HER2+ breast cancer a chance for a healthy and productive life, but will expand the patient pool far beyond the borders of the country and bring relief to the millions of women in developing countries who are battling this disease.

We should not forget that so-called “voluntary price reductions” by pharma companies, couched though they may be in the language of social responsibility, have more to do with securing market dominance than with any concern for patients or their rights. We therefore reiterate our call to the Government of India to take decisive steps to regulate the prices of biologicals (whether originators or biosimilars) like trastuzumab and pegylated interferon that are currently priced out of reach of the majority of those whose lives these drugs can save.
(signed) Kalyani Menon-Sen, Campaign Coordinator
For more information, please contact:
Kalyani Menon-Sen +91-9910306382
Leena Menghaney +91-9811365412

[1]  Income distribution figures based on NCAER data for 2010
*Roche does not market the 150 mg/vial in India
* Trastuzumab 440 mg from Roche is marketed in India under the brand names Herceptin and Herclon 
* Biocon has a partnership agreement with Mylan for global development & commercialization of trastuzumab

* In India, the usual protocol for patients with HER+ breast cancer involves intravenous trastuzumab at three-weekly intervals for 12 months (approximately 17 cycles), at an initial loading dose of trastuzumab is 8 mg/kg body weight, followed up with the maintenance dose at 6 mg/kg body weight. A patient weighing 60 kgs will need 480 mg as the loading dose and then 360 mg for the maintenance doses every three weeks.   A patient weighing 65 kgs will need 520 mg as the loaded dose and then 390 mg for the maintenance doses every three weeks.  

Background documents and updates from the Campaign for Affordable Trastuzumab:  

August 2013: Press Release, Campaign for Affordable Trastuzumab welcomes the dismissal of Trastuzumab’s divisional patent applications,

August 2013: Statement, Roche relinquishes Trastuzumab patent in India, Campaign urges approval of bio-similars,

January 2013: Compulsory License for Anti-Cancer Drugs – Update from Campaign for 

Affordable Trastuzumab,
March 2013:  Letter to Indian Minister of Commerce,

November 2012: Letter to Indian Prime Minister,

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Ruth Mumbi -A Socialist Feminist who believes in the Reaffirmation of Human Values

Happy New Year!

Our journey of sharing voices of women who have undertaken the African Women’s Leadership Institute and how it has continued to transform their lives and communities continues…

This Month presents us with story of one very courageous young woman from the informal settlements of Kenya who firmly believes in the voices of rural women as key stakeholders in the creation of a just and equitable society. I trust that her leadership journey will also inspire and encourage us to reflect on our past as we seek to shape a new future. This is what she shared with us in her own words…

Tell us about your self

My name is Ruth Mumbi a Community Organizer, Human and Women Rights Defender in the informal settlements in Kenya. I was born and brought up in the informal settlement of MathareKiamaiko Village where I still live to date. I am the Coordinator and the Founder Member of BUNGE LA WAMAMA MASHINANI (WOMEN PARLIAMENT), which is a movement of grassroots women, organized in form of caucuses whose main objective is to amplify the voice of the women and give them a voice through documentation.
I am an alumnus of the African Women Leadership Institute (AWLI)2010, and an initiator of WAREMBO NI YES a movement of young women in Kenya and that was led by young women to drum up support for the new Kenyan Constitution. As a movement we educated young women on their rights hence making them to vote yes. This movement was conceived shortly after the AWLI training. Although WAREMBO had its challenges like any other movement it was also a success story and has remained to be an inspiration to many.
In 2013 I was nominated and became a finalist of theFrontline Defenders International Human Rights Award which was hotly contested by participants from over 100 countries across the globe. The Frontline Award for Human Rights Defenders at Risk was established 2005 to honor the work of human rights defenders or a group of human rights defenders who through nonviolent work are courageously making an outstanding contribution to the promotion and the protection of the human rights of others often at great personal risk to themselves. I truly proud to have received this honorary

Currently I also serve on the Advisory Board of Bridge International Group based in the UK a global group of likeminded enthusiastic and committed people working on gender and social movements in a variety of areas and regions and in many different languages, we support Bridge on various issues including strategic directions, thematic areas to focus upon, regional content and influence marketing/dissemination, networking and impact.

What are some of your unique qualities that define your personality as an African woman of strength

I am confident, informed, consistent, a good listener ready to learn and out-going.

What was your AWLI experience like?   How has it impacted on your personal life and career development?

Through the contacts that I made during the AWLI we managed as the Kenyan delegation to initiate a movement of young women to rally and campaign dubbed WAREMBO NI YES, the movement mobilized the voices of young women to understand rights and the need for a constitution that upholds human rights for the then new constitution which became law.

 What were the unique aspects of the AWLI training? Are there some lessons you got from AWLI that have proved particularly effective on improving your work with women?

Some of the unique aspects of the AWLI training that vividly stand out for me to date were the sites of feminist leadership and locating where they occur, such as the family, clan, tribe or community and where feminist transformative leadership is practiced especially by women and their grassroots movements seeking transformation at the community level where majority of women are based and must negotiate their lives and their rights.
The lesson of documentation of the struggle of women at the community level has really worked for me as an individual and as an organization.
Through the AWLI I also learnt the importance of identifying an issue that is affecting a community and rallying behind it would make people who are affected by it to relate with it in a much deeper sense.I also learnt how to fundraise through the contacts I met who were a diverse group.

Would you recommend any young woman to undertake the AWLI training?

Yes! I would strongly recommend any young lady to this training as this is a space that will build your capacity and create networking opportunities with different young women from different background and of diverse background.

What do you think has supported the women’s movement through the years and how have they been able to deal with the challenges they continually face as they advocate for women’s rights?

Women face similar problems.  Women’s determination in wanting to see good for everyone in the society; they’re living in unequal situations with male gender driving them to fight for equality and equalization has been a motivation. The fullness of women’s own potential, the strength of women and common self-interest with each other and common oppression bonds women together hence making women to realise the importance of each other in the movement as they fight for liberation.

 What are some of the new challenges and new opportunities facing African women’s organising today and how best can we seize these opportunities.

The biggest challenge is the institutionalized system of oppression based on the domination of men over women that is based on hostile social relations. On the brighter side of things through these challenges women have realized and learned their fullness of potential as women of strength and are working through these issues to see that all human beings regardless of their sex are accorded the same human dignity.
Elitism; the movement seems to be overshadowed by the highly educated who purport to represent the marginalized and local woman.
The question of generational gaps cannot be ignored here, older women refuse to give up the space to young women and hardly mentor /nurture due to fear of being overtaken.

What is your message for any young women interested in political leadership in Country?

It is not an easy road. However our predecessors have made footpaths. What is remaining is ours as young women to tarmac those foot paths. 

Which one thing would you want the world to remember you for?

I want to be remembered as Socialist feminist who believes in the reaffirmation of human values, ideals of sisterhood: taking care of people, being sensitive to people's needs and developing potential.

AKina Mama wa Afrika (AMwA) is one of the four partner institutes of the African Centers of Excellence (ACE) for Women's Leadership program run by the Institute of International Education (IIE) , Ethiopia Office.

For more on IIE , ACE or AMwA please follow the links below.