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” (https://wethewomenourjourneys.wordpress.com/). 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.
www.iie.org/
www.iie.org/en/Programs/ACE-for-Womens-Leadership
www.ywli.org