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Thursday, July 17, 2014

Atlas Corps Public Webinar - Fellow Perspective Series

Friday, July 18, 2014 from 1:00 PM to 2:00 PM (EDT)

Atlas Corps is professional fellowship for overseas development professionals. With a network of 300 leaders spanning 60 countries, we are sharing our Fellow perspectives with the world through this webinar series. Fellows will share perspectives on critical social issues they are passionate about and the solutions they have worked on in their home countries or at their host organizations.

Talk Synopsis: Gender Based Violence - Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in the 21st Century
Every 10 seconds, somewhere in the world, a little girl is a victim of female genital mutilation. Three million girls are excised every year. The scary reality is that three million girls in ten years can easily translate to thirty million young girls and women having undergone this heinous act.
Unicef estimates that 100 to 140 million women and girls alive today are affected by FGM. About half of those women are in only 3 countries: 27 million in Egypt, 23 million in Ethiopia, and 20 million in Nigeria.

This public webinar aims to address the following; what is FGM, the numbers on the wall, the geographical distribution, and the evolution and possible solutions to address the same. This will be a participatory discussion and we encourage participants to contribute to the discussion.

How to participate:

1.    Pre-reading - Please review the pre-reading document to help contextualize the discussion.  
2.    Please click here for the live webinar. During this live version, you will be able to participate in the Q&A session. If you are unable to participate in the live conversation, you can still see the webinar after the broadcast here.
3.    Please fill out this survey after your participation so we can improve the public webinar experience for you.

About the Fellows:
Kate Kiama (Kenya)  & Smiti Gahrotra (India) are both Atlas Corps Fellows who are currently serving at Nike Foundation in Portland, Oregon.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

My Road to Santiago.

As many of you might know, I am a huge Paulo Coelho fan! I know at least thirty other people who would share in this exact sentiment but to be fair I am really his second biggest fan, after my aunt whom I am named after, who first introduced me to the beautiful works of Mr. Coelho in ‘The Alchemist.’
If you have not (yet) read this remarkable novel, it is about a young shepherd boy called Santiago who is on his way from Spain to Egypt to find his treasure. I have read this book at least five times now and last week I was at it again. This time I was truly in awe of a young shepherd’s bravery to leave his sheep and cross ridges and war torn desserts all in pursuit of his treasure. Not that I can be of any comparison to   young Santiago’s gallantry, but being in a far away place in the name of pursuing some little piece of my life’s puzzle really resonated with me this time more than ever!
Coming to America is really an overrated concept especially in most developing countries. I remember when I was much younger whenever I would imagine what the Promised Land would look like it always had an American imagery in it strangely! My CRE (Christian Religious Studies) teacher once described the Promised Land as one where milk and honey flowed easily and where everyone is at peace. I am still trying to figure out how my nine-year-old brain concluded this place was called America! Fast-forward to my teen years and I knew that I wanted to travel and see other places but equally surprisingly enough I had no intention of ever coming to this far West of the World! But as Karma would have it I had a months notice to pack for a year or so away…

There are a couple of things I have learnt along my road to Santiago some of which I will use analogy from the Alchemist. Firstly -It is foolish to think that you can just wake up and start your journey towards your treasure and not face any adversaries or challenges. Some of these encounters can well be mitigated but its best to over prepare in every situation and then go with the flow! Secondly- it is of paramount importance to realize this road is everyone’s but this journeys is yours and therefore do not get distracted with what others are doing or not doing. Thirdly- learn when to verbally use Urim (Yes) and Thummim (No) in everyday conversations with others. Fourthly- be present, now, this exact moment and every other day. Fifthly – Not everyone will help you get to your treasure, some people can be disruptions and you must follow your gut feeling or omen. Finally and most importantly, if you really believe in something, the universe or God (whatever you perceive HIM to be) will indeed conspire to help you get there!   
Urim and Thummim
Like Santiago, there have been moments when I really want to throw in the towel and head back to more familiar territory but after springing back from such a low-low I am glad I stuck it out. Nobody said it would be easy but it definitely worth every blood, sweat and tear!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Call for Applications: NATO Future Leaders Summit (July 22 Deadline)

The Atlantic Council is now accepting applications for the second round of its 2014 Future Leaders Summit recruitment. Exceptional leaders between 25 and 35 years of age from select NATO member and partner countries are encouraged to apply. We are currently recruiting from the United Kingdom and from countries not already represented in the 2014 Emerging Leaders Working Group. For a full list of eligible countries, please download the linked application document below. The deadline for applications is July 22, 2014.

In 2014, the United Kingdom will become the center of the political world as it hosts the NATO Summit. Heads of state and government, top diplomats, military commanders, and other international leaders will convene to make decisions that will affect the global economy and geopolitical landscape. The British government and NATO have invited the Atlantic Council to host a high-profile future leaders event alongside the official summit.

Organized in partnership with the Atlantic Treaty Association and Atlantic Council of the United Kingdom, the 2014 Future Leaders Summit will be the primary public diplomacy event of the NATO Summit and serve to connect emerging leaders from North America, Europe, and other regions with one another, the Alliance's current leaders, and a network of likeminded peers. Summit delegates will have unique access to programming inside the Celtic Manor estate, the official NATO Summit site, and opportunities to engage directly with senior Alliance leaders in attendance.
Call for Applications
Deadline: July 22, 2014 (11:59pm UTC)
This is the second round of applications for delegates to the summit, following the March 2014 call for fifteen delegates to participate in the NATO Emerging Leaders Working Group who will also attend the summit. In this round we are only selecting delegates for NATO member countries not already represented in the 2014 Working Group (please download the application document to see the complete list), along with a small number of new host country delegates from the United Kingdom. In addition, the Council believes it is important to include delegates from NATO partner nations and will review applications from exceptional NATO partner country candidates for a limited number of partner nation spots (please download the application to see the list of eligible partner nation countries).

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Call for Applications: 2014 Future Leaders Summit

Tuesday, July 1, 2014


3 ladies, who met in Campus in Nairobi, formed Twinkle Initiative early last year. These young impressionable lasses are very passionate about Women and Girls Rights issues and formed their initiative with the aim of inspiring young ladies to scale greater heights through mentorship. The acronym Twinkle stands for The Woman Is Now Knowledgeable Learned & Empowered. I soon learned that the stars of course inspired the name, and that despite their distance from the Earth, they are beautiful and together shine the world especially on a clear starry night. These young ladies aim to be the flicker of light however great or small for others such as them.
Twinkle Initiative Founders-L-R Mercy,Wambui & Sheila
The International Women’s Day under the theme’ Inspiring Change’ was celebrated by Twinkle initiative on the 29th of March 2014.Twinkle initiative founders and some of its membership came together to have an informal discussion on the journey of the Kenyan woman and girl and how she has helped inspire change for herself and for her community.
The discussants first tackled the gains and benefits women and girls alike have achieved in the new Constitutional dispensation. Prior to even getting at the gains, it was key for the participants to mention a few oppressions or discriminations that women not to long ago faced. Some of these elements could include inability to inherit property, lack of adequate legal protection especially for single mothers, discrimination at the workplace and suppressed freedoms of movement, speech and personal liberty. It was interesting for participants to realize that as a country and community, things have significantly changed and improved but a lot still needs to be done for gender parity and equality to be realized in full.
Each participant was asked to name a lady who inspires her in various sectors in Kenya. This exercised helped the girls realize that despite all the challenges and struggles, others have made it and so can they. Identifying a woman helped the participants easily identify and feel that their dream is not at all unrealistic and that it can be attained with dedication and hard work. Some of the Kenyan role models identified included; Martha Karua, Njoki Ndungu, Wangari Maathai, Kakenya Ntaiya, Caroline Mutoko just to mention but a few. The participants were also encouraged to give a rational or to explain why they thought the named people could be considered role models. It is not surprising that many of the participants are law students and think highly of legal scholars for source of inspiration. This further buttresses the importance of Twinkle’s mentorship initiative and the impact it has on the development of young impressionable girls and young women.
The meeting took the duration of one and a half hours and participants’ were provided with drinks and refreshments. The participants knew that they may not have solved all of the challenges and come up with solutions to all possible snugs and bumps they my face but they felt alive to the fact that Twinkle Initiative has provided them with a safe space to discuss the issues they think are most important to them in a candid way and without fear o victimization or intimidation. Twinkle Initiative aims to conduct further such informal discussions with young ladies and more structured talks with teenage girls in the future.
Group Work
Many Thanks to the Twinkle Initiative Founders Sheila Wanjiru, Mercy Waweru and Wambui Ngige who made this day possible.