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Sunday, December 29, 2013

South-to South Exchange Program Uganda- Memoir’s of a Fellow.

By Kate Kiama VV Lead Fellow-Kenya 2013

I have been a somewhat active fellow of the prestigious Vital Voices -VV Lead Fellowship program since earlier this year. The program aims to support a global network of emerging and established women leaders to participate fully in addressing pertinent issues in their society whilst also encouraging them to participate fully in the economy. The three year program offers participants mentorship, vital trainings and a source of information sharing. When the window of opportunity opened for a possible peer-to-peer exchange visit to be held in Nairobi, I immediately jumped at it. The unfortunate Westgate mall attack on the ill-fated Saturday  morning of the 21st September 2013 that saw the death of about 72 innocent people who were in the Nairobi mall that day raised security issues on the venue of the VV Lead South-to-South Exchange Program.

In light of the same, the venue was changed and fresh dates were set for December 9th -13th in Kampala, Uganda. Uganda is generally a very beautiful warm and ever shining country. Kampala is humid and much of our stay then was very wet in the early mornings. This did not deter Riham Helmy a fellow from Egypt nor I from enjoying the occasional morning swim in the Olympic size pool at the Speke resort Munyonyo, the hotel we were staying at during our stay in Kampala. The program managed to convene 51 fellows from over 26 different countries representing four different continents. Being in a room with all these amazing different personalities not only felt like being in a mini-UN resolution meeting but it also felt powerful and humbling at the same time…
VV Lead Fellows 2013

The VV Lead program is based on three pillars; Connect, Share and Collaborate. Each day built into either one of the pillars and programming for the each day further buttressed the same. On the first day we were each tasked with the beautiful task of dreaming and structuring our organizational goal, VV Lead Program goal as well as our week goal to be in tune with our overall dream channel. This was a very important reminder and lesson to continue dreaming….

Day two was all about sharing. Concurrent sessions were held for a better part of the day and I was excited to have attended sessions on effective pitching of an idea as well as facilitation for team empowerment. A good number of sessions were moderated by the VV lead staff or consultants but it was equally refreshing to have some fellows take up the moderation and facilitation of others. Day three and four focused on developing an effective personal strategic plan as well as enhancing the art of an effective negotiation respectively. The same was followed up by site visits to three different locations which fellows had to sign up for and which took place concurrently. The site visits were conducted in organizations within Kampala namely TERREWODEwww.terrewode.org , CEDA International (Bombo Road-Kawempe Division) and the Uganda Women Entrepreneurs Association Limited (UWEAL) www.uweal.co.ug. The site visits were definitely part of the collaborating pillar of the VV lead programming.

Other sessions that really struck me and which I fondly remember include the speaking up and speaking out elevator pitch training which was conducted by Allison Shapira, president Global Public Speaking. I am now constantly aware of my pitch, tone and tempo and most importantly if I am talking in up talk…up talk it was made know to us is where your sentences end in a question mark when in essence they should end in  a full-stop. It leaves listeners with the opinion that you are either unsure or not confident in the message you are delivering. The knowledge café and the crafts fair were also less conventional methods that made learning, sharing and networking much more enjoyable.

A week is really a short time to digest and discern the amount of content received. It is an even shorter time to get to know each of all participants but I am comforted that I have two more years ahead to make the effort to connect with each of these great ladies whose similarity is that they are different!!!





Friday, December 20, 2013

WeTech Seed Fund for Women and Girls in Computer Science

Applications are been accepted for the  WeTech Seed Fund for Women and Girls in Computer Science! The WeTech Seed Fund will provide small grants to support individuals working independently or civil society organizations in Africa to play a role in increasing the access to computer science-related training, jobs and leadership roles for women and girls . Seed Fund grant amounts will range from $2,000 - $20,000.

The round 1 application will be open until January 22nd 2014.

To apply for the WeTech Seed Fund, applicants MUST meet the following eligibility criteria:

·         Applicant must be a current resident of an African country (including North and Sub-Saharan Africa)

·         Applicant must be an individual working independently (at least 18 years of age), or a representative of a non-governmental organization (NGO), social enterprise or educational institution based in Africa

·         Applicant must be able to demonstrate previous experience supporting women and girls in computer science or STEM fields

·         Applicant must be committed to developing and contributing to a virtual community for WeTech Seed Fund grantees

·         Applicant must be able to demonstrate leadership potential (reference letter will be required)

·         Application must be submitted in English (Please note: planned activities may be conducted in ANY language)

Projects eligible for funding include, but are not limited to, trainings, mentoring programs, hackathons, entrepreneur incubation, awareness campaigns, and conferences and events.


Please direct any general questions and queries to wetech@iie.org


Thursday, December 19, 2013

Application 2014 Girls 20 Summit

 Represent your country at the next G(irls)20 Summit. Before you complete your application please do review the Frequently Asked Questions and read the background below.

In order to ensure your application is considered, it must be received no later than January 10th, 2014 at midnight EST.

You can apply by completing the application form, &submitting a reference letter.  While not required, we recommend you submit a video & picture (instructions are on the application form).



While in Australia, delegates will attend skills building training sessions, hear from a global panel of experts and discuss and promote tangible, scalable solutions toward economic prosperity. The Summit will culminate in a delegate-led press conference and communiqué that provides a blueprint to G20 leaders on how to utilize and engage one of the best resources in the world – girls and women.

  • Workshops / skills building investments in Summit delegates
  • An annual global Summit that takes place in the G20 host country
  • Global mentorships for G(irls)20 Summit Ambassadors (former delegates)
  • Panel of advisors for former applicants (not chosen as delegates but exhibited strong leadership potential)
  • Delegate led initiatives that take place in home communities
  • Access to ROI (Ring of Influence)

Four Summits have taken place : Toronto, 2010; Paris, 2011; Mexico City, 2012; Moscow, 2013.  Each Summit produces a communiqué which is presented to the G20 Leaders, Ministers of Industry, Health, Innovation, Economic Development and Foreign Affairs and Ambassadors. Each Summit also results in the development of community based initiatives led by the delegates.

PLEASE NOTE: Delegates will be required to return home to their countries and put their ideas into action or support an organization that is already working to empower girls and women.

The following will be provided to all G(irls)20 Summit Delegates:

  • Summit learning materials and supplies;
  • Return economy air travel arrangements, from the closest international airport to the delegate’s home to Australia;
  • Accommodations while in Australia (in transit accommodations to be covered by the delegate);
  • Meals – breakfast, lunch, dinner and refreshments each day;
  • All ground transportation while in Australia.

Please note that it will be the responsibility of the delegate to arrange her own ground transportation to and from her home and the airport as well as passport and visas (some countries will require a visa).

If you are a passionate, forward thinking, solution oriented young woman from a G20 country or can represent the European or African Union, Afghanistan, Pakistan or the MENA region and will be 18-20 years at the Summit (August 2014), you are invited to apply.

Please remember that All applicants must:

  • Be between the ages of 18-20 years at the time of the Summit (August 2014)
  • Hold citizenship of the country they are applying to represent
  • Have parental or guardian permission to travel to Australia and to fully participate in the summit for the duration;
  • Consent to appear in any and all media;
  • Have a valid passport and any other required travel documents for the delegate to travel from her home country to Australia 

Please note; that it is the sole responsibility of the delegate to obtain all required travel documents. Proof of all travel documentation no later than March 30th, 2014. The purchase of Health insurance and all necessary travel documents are the responsibility of the delegates and will not be reimbursed.

Language: As the G(irls)20 Summit will be conducted in English, English language proficiency, both verbal and written, is required.  All final delegates will have a phone interview in which their language skills will be evaluated.




Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Community Dialogue- Kenya

The AIDS LAW PROJECT herein referred to as ALP is a non-governmental organization which works exclusively to promote equal rights and justice for people living with HIV & AIDS. ALP focuses on using legal strategies to advance health rights for people living with and affected by HIV & AIDS.  It was founded in 2007 by Kenyan lawyers whose desire was to give back to society, through applying their legal expertise in assisting people living with HIV & AIDS to acquire equal rights and treatment. The vision at the AIDS LAW PROJECT remains to create a supportive environment that enhances and upholds human rights to health, enhanced living, protection and participation of People Living with HIV& AIDS.

The Millennium Development Goals which are the eight global development goals that were established following the Millennium Summit of the United Nations in 2000 are set to run out by 2015.  In 2010, the High-level Plenary Meeting of the General Assembly on the MDGs requested the Secretary-General to initiate thinking on a post-2015 development agenda. Beyond 2015, this new framework will replace the MDGs and set the agenda and policy-making processes in UN member states around major development issues such as poverty reduction, health, education and more.

ACT 2015 an initiative of the CrowdOutAIDS has one goal which is to get as many voices in a movement building initiative that aims to secure a post-2015 development framework that advances the sexual reproductive health rights and HIV response for young people. In light of the same, the Aids Law Project Kenya in partnership with the ACT 2015 held a community dialogue with young persons drawn from diverse backgrounds to discuss among many things the reality of sexual reproductive health rights available to their communities. The community dialogue took place at the Aids Law Projects offices located off Ngong Road along Menelik Road in Nairobi from 11:00-1:00 Pm on the Friday 29th November 2013.This date was uniquely chosen to commemorate the World Aids Day which fell on Sunday 1st December 2013.http://www.crowdoutaids.org/wordpress/

The purpose of the dialogue was to share stories around sexual reproductive health rights and especially the level of awareness of participants and their communities around the subject matter. Participants were also encourages to brainstorm on potential solutions and inspire change for action. It was noteworthy to mention that a majority of Kenyan youth are aware of some basics on sexual reproductive health. This has been majorly commended by the government initiative to have HIV & AIDS as a compulsory unit in all fields of study in institutions of higher learning. The same has also been supplemented by incorporating Sex Education in lower levels of education notably within secondary and primary schools nationally. Despite having structures in place it is counterproductive in the sense that most university students will not attend any of the ‘extra’ classes and many lectures would opt out from even giving these lectures. The same is seen in some secondary and primary schools too. Implementation of sex education and HIV & AIDS classes remains largely problematic.

Despite several gaps that were identified from the community dialogue it is prudent to point out that the Aids Law project in collaboration with ACT 2015 feels very encouraged that more and more groups are having and hosting such similar dialogues and are discussing, sharing and continue to endeavor to have sexual reproductive health rights as part of the post 2015 framework.



Sunday, December 8, 2013

Fellowship Opportunit​y - Young African Leaders Initiative


The Washington Fellowship is the flagship program of US President Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative. President Obama launched YALI in 2010 to support young African leaders as they spur growth and prosperity, strengthen democratic governance, and enhance peace and security across Africa. The Washington Fellowship, which begins in 2014, will bring 500 young leaders to the United States each year for academic coursework and leadership training and will create unique opportunities in Africa for Fellows to put new skills to practical use in leading organizations, communities, and countries.

The online application for the Washington Fellowship is currently available. Completed applications, including all supporting documents, are due by 5:00 pm Eastern Standard Time, January 27, 2014. All applications must be submitted via the online application system. The application instructions provide detailed information regarding the financial provisions of the fellowship, eligibility and selection criteria for the program, and details on applying. Please read the application instructions carefully prior to beginning the application. We recommend printing these instructions and referring to them while completing the application.

If you have questions about the application, please email washingtonfellowship@irex.org

Participating countries: Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Republic of the Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, South Sudan, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.



Sunday, December 1, 2013

Sisterhood in Mathare.

Saturday 23rd November 2013 was a bright warm morning in Nairobi. Akili Dada, a local NGO in Kenya that aims to address the underrepresentation of women in leadership positions in Africa had organized through one of their fellows a career day at Mathare’s informal settlement in Nairobi. As part of Sisterhood, I was humbled to be part of this great initiative and to learn from not only the members of Akili dada but also from the community who we were visiting early that morning.

Career Day Sessions
As with most informal settlements, the area is densely populated and amenities are scarce. Life can be very brutal and each day bears its own challenges and battles that must be fought. For young people growing up there, especially for young girls, wrong choices and the wrong crowd can have far outreaching consequences. An Akili dada fellow-Ann Nyambura http://www.akilidada.org/what-we-do/innovation-in-leadership-program/akili-dada-fellows/ is the brain behind the career day. This vibrant young lass who grew up in the area is living testimony that where we are born, live or even where we grow up need not define us, our ambitions, hopes and dreams. Speaking on the opening of the career day, she recalls growing up in Mathare and being force to seek mentors from far and wide who mostly resided outside of Mathare’s slum. She knew that life had more to it than dropping out of school or been forced out due to teenage pregnancies and other wrong choices and even harsher realities. She acknowledges that having exposure to other people’s world views makes her a better person and hence her solid commitment to taking the same knowledge back to her own home through mentorship and economic initiatives.

The career day was for teenagers of both genders aged between 13-19 who reside within Mathare. The aim of the career day was to firstly, encourage the young impressionable teens that they can be anything they set their minds up to be and that secondly that each student is aware of what subjects to select especially for the high school students for a given profession and that thirdly and finally a firsthand experience and Q & A session with various career women from diverse professions including medics, lawyers, teachers, IT consultants, media personalities and renowned bankers.

Some of Akili dada beneficiaries
Despite the circumstances most of these young teens live in, I honestly felt as though they laugh harder, louder and longer than most other people. Is it because they know there is more to life that material things? It doesn’t cost much to sacrifice a few hours and to make an impact however small in others lives. There is nothing more heartwarming that making a small child smile and it is even more amazing that a young lady like Ann is demonstrating to her community and herself what real leadership really is!!! Ann was recently awarded with a grant from the Pollination Project to enable her to conduct essential training and to purchase materials and an electrical briquette to begin her economic empowerment project in Mathare. http://thepollinationproject.org/2013/11/29/ann-nyambura-women-empowerment-through-briquette-making/?utm_content=buffer70417&utm_source=buffer&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=Buffer

Miss Nyambura




Thursday, November 28, 2013

Legal Aid Clinic in Mombasa on 1st December, 2013

Event: Legal Aid Clinic

Date: 1st December, 2013

Time: 9:00 am to 4:00 pm

Place: Mbaraki Sports Club – Mombasa

Theme: Getting to zero


The Constitution of Kenya (2010) guarantees several rights to the citizens of Kenya. These rights extend to the people living with HIV: they include the right to equality and non–discrimination.

KELIN, UNDP and UNAIDS in partnership with the National AIDS Control Council (NACC) have organized a free legal aid clinic as one of the side events on 1st December,2013 to mark the World AIDS Day.

The clinic is intended to give an opportunity to people living with HIV, and to the public to get legal advice and counsel on HIV, the Law and Human Rights.

The advice and counsel will be provided by a team of KELIN trained pro bono lawyers, who will be in attendance.


Saturday, October 26, 2013

International Day of the Girl Child Celebration.

It’s been a while since “Sisterhood” was actively doing mentorship in Schools within Nairobi and its environs. This is majorly because your truly was back in class from May- October of this year and it proved quite a challenge balancing school work, full time employment and Sisterhood. Nonetheless I was still scribbling down thoughts and ideas especially to help build teenage girls self esteem and help them gain meaningful life skills. In all the deadlines and assignments, Sisterhood committed to celebrating the International Day of the Girl Child in style.

The International day of the Girl Child is an annual celebration marked on the 11th October. The day is an international observance day as declared by the United Nations in the year 2012.The observation supports more opportunity for girls, and increases awareness of inequality faced by girls worldwide based upon their gender. This inequality includes areas such as access to education, nutrition, legal rights, medical care, and protection from discrimination, violence and unfree child marriage and access to education among others.

Since the day is for the girl child, Sisterhood came up with an activity which is spearheaded by the girls and what better way to do so than to hold a debate intundem with this year’s theme which was 'Innovating for Girl's Education.' Sisterhood approached 4 schools within Nairobi namely; Ngara Girls High School, Arya Girls High School both in Nairobi’s Ngara area and Bahati Soweto and Bahati Mukuru both CC’s located in Nairobi’s informal settlement of Embakasi area. Each school was tasked to present 3 debaters who would present on innovative ways to ensure that more girls are able to access education not only in Kenya but within Africa and beyond. Each team (school) was also tasked to present on Manila paper the girls dreams, hopes and aspirations. The girls were encouraged to draw, paste pictures and write what they envision for themselves with no barriers in place. I believe that sometimes we are more visual and to assist those moments where you cannot be best able to articulate yourself visual diagrams always seem to go a long way. The fine arts which each school presented were the background of the debater’s podium.

It was very refreshing to hear the innovative solutions the girls came up with. Most of them identified that the current solutions are not working and hence it is obvious that newer solution must be incorporated to address the same. The girls called for reforms in the heavy taxes levied on sanitary towels which hinder many girls from being able to attend school every month during their menses for lack of adequate sanitary towels. It was also noted that campaigns that only provide sanitary towels are not effective especially in the Northern parts of the country where girls also lack proper inner wear. Strategies such as ‘panties for a purposes’ was called for. The girls also suggested that more mentorship programmes are needed to enable the girls to have good support structures and pillars of hope.

The debate generated a plenary discussion where all present participants to the event contributed towards brain storming on sustainable solutions to address the challenges faced by the girl child in Kenya. The judges who are all very passionate about gender development and who also work in the sector proved instrumental in steering the discussion.

As with all competition there must be a winner. Sisterhood is committed to inspire, support and encourage young teenagers and as such we found it prudent to have gifts of participation for all 12 debaters. Each contestant was presented with a certificate of participation, and a journal from the United religions Initiative and the Sema Kenya BBC program also presented t-shirts and wrist bands to the girls.

The first three debaters each got Bata Shoe School Vouchers donated by the United religions Initiative. The judges also made special mention to one of the debaters who came up with the most innovative solutions and was also presented with a school bag from URI. The BBC- Sema Kenya program also donated wrist bands to all 54 participants to the event.

All 54 participants were welcomed to refreshments after the event which took 2 hours. The event was held at the host school Ngara Girls in Nairobi from 2:00-4:00 pm on the 18th October 2013.

Sisterhood sincerely thanks all the people who made this day a great success and for making the girls matter!!


Valedictorian speech by Kate Kiama- 25th October 2013

Riara Law School

Good Afternoon ladies and gentlemen,

It is indeed a great privileged and honour to be appointed valedictorian of the first Pre-KSL class of 2013.

There is a story of a young, but earnest Zen student who approached his teacher, and asked the Master, “If I work very hard and diligently, how long will it take for me to find Zen? The Master thought about this, then replied, “Ten years . .” ?The student then said, “But what if I work very, very hard and really apply myself to learn fast — How long then?” “Well, twenty years.” Replied the Master. “But, if I really, really work at it, how long then?” asked the student. “Thirty years,” was the Master’s reply. “But, I do not understand,” said the disappointed student. “At each time that I say I will work harder, you say it will take me longer. Why do you say that?”?The Master’s reply is what am driving at-his response to his earnest Zen student was that  “When you have one eye on the goal, you only have one eye on the path.”

This is the dilemma we all faced when we enrolled as students at Riara Law School. We were all so focused on one goal-to get admitted to the Kenya School of Law. In this way we quite frankly we were only interested in doing whatever it takes in the shortest time possible to achieve our original objective. And here we are today…

As a class, we have definitely gone through more than we could have imagined possible in the last few months. Some more difficult to face than others. Yet we are seated here for a reason. We are here because we have all accomplished that original objective. But unlike the earnest Zen student, we soon discovered somewhere along the way that there is more to life than that one goal and more often not we have to have the  focus of  both of our eyes to achieve our goals.

So other than getting a step closer to finally undertake the Advocates training Program, our stay at Riara Law School has taught us valuable lessons which we are already using and will be for a long time. All of us can easily put Constitutional Experts to shame with our comprehensive, analytical and in-depth knowledge of Constitutional Law thanks to Mr.Kibet. Dr.Jackline Nyaga not only managed to teach us and remind us of Latin Maxims in Land Law, Company Law and Jurisprudence but was also able to really indoctrinate in us the importance of critical thinking not only for academic purposes but also for our general application in life as well. Ms Njogu’s meticulous eye for detail is a lesson we all learnt that makes the world of difference between being great and being exceptional; Mr. Wekesa reaffirmed that sometimes you will be required to step up your game for the greater good of others and you should do so with grace and equal zeal.

Every single student here has taught me something which I am taking away and I believe so are you. It is absolutely heartwarming to have gotten to know each one of you and it is quite a relief that even when we do get to KSL we have others to look up to, for support and encouragement and of course a good laugh to go the distance.

On behalf of all the Pre-KSL class of 2013, I’d like to sincerely thank all the lectures, staff and the entire Riara University fraternity for making our stay here as short as it was fruitful, eventful and purposeful. We’d sincerely like to acknowledge all the efforts by Ms Damaris and Professor Kangar’a who constantly sort better ways to make our stay here as comfortable and effective as achievable. I’d also like to thank all our parents, guardians, spouses and employers for bearing with us and accommodating us during the period we were here.

To all the Pre-KSL students, I wish each one of you happiness. It doesn't matter what your plans are, or what you consider to be "great things." Just remember that you can. You can try, you can fail, and you can try again. I have three last pieces of advice which I learnt from my father, a retired military man who is unfortunately is not with us today. - I have modified them to suite our purposes and they are self-explanatory. First to achieve your hearts desires, you must be disciplined. Secondly leave no lawyer behind and finally when the going gets tough, which it might sometimes, armor up.

Thank you for indulging me.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Call for Nomination of a young person (under 23) to join the independent Expert Review Group on Information and Accountability for Women’s and Children’s Health

In 2011, following a recommendation of the UN Commission on Information and Accountability for Women’s and Children’s Health, the World Health Organization (WHO) established a time-limited independent Expert Review Group (iERG) which will operate until 2015. Currently, the iERG is an 8-member group. In their 2013 Report to the UN Secretary General, the iERG members point to a gap in global and national accountability : Adolescent health is a neglected issue. In this spirit, the iERG requested the addition of a new member to represent adolescents in their group.
In order to address this request, WHO is soliciting nominations for a young person. Any person up to 25 years of age is considered a “young” person. However, in order to qualify, the person must be younger than 25 by end of 2015 (end of iERG mandate). Therefore, at the time of nomination the individual should not be older than 23 years of age and should represent an institution rather than herself or himself.
Self-nominations will not be considered. Individuals or organizations wishing to propose candidates are requested to submit nominations via the online form below by 31 October 2013.
The following should be submitted with the nomination:
• Letter of not more than 500 words describing the nominee's institutional membership, relevant knowledge, experience, and achievements
• Curriculum Vitae
• Signed WHO Declaration of Interest form
• Brief biographical sketch not exceeding 500 words
The selection committee will assess the nominees using the following criteria:
• Membership in a relevant institution
• Age (under 23)
• Demonstrated leadership among the youth groups
The iERG members are expected to exercise autonomous, professional judgment and serve in an independent capacity until the end of the mandate of iERG in 2015. If you have difficulties accessing or using the online form, please contact us at acc_commission