This year’s International Women’s Day theme is “Embracing Equity” — a reminder of the urgent need to address the systemic barriers that prevent women and girls from thriving and reaching their full potential.
Despite significant progress in recent decades, women in Sub-Saharan Africa continue to be disproportionately affected in areas such as education, employment and the increased burden of unpaid care work.
Not willing to accept the status quo for women and girls, our incredible partners are taking action and making progress toward a gender-equal and sustainable future. In this blog, we highlight many of their efforts, which involve challenging deep-rooted cultural attitudes that pull women back; increasing women’s representation in leadership and decision-making; skilling youth for the future workforce; re-imagining care work and so much more.
Cate Tito, Emerging Leaders Foundation (Kenya)
“ELF has contributed to my personal growth and the work I do at the community level. You were not born to be a spectator of others while they live life to the fullest. You too were born to make the world a better place, so put your talents into good use.”
Cate, an alumna of Emerging Leaders Foundation (ELF), works with local grassroots organizations and communities in Kajiado County, Kenya, to end Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), child marriage, teenage pregnancies and gender-based violence. ELF provides practical, values-based leadership development, mentorship, governance and livelihood training to promising young Africans so that they can drive transformation in society.
Philomena Mwikali, Dignitas (Kenya)
“The awards made me feel highly motivated, valued and recognized. I can confidently declare that Dignitas left a permanent mark in my life and made me a happy teacher.”
As a teacher leader at Dignitas, Philomena has learned to be innovative and good at improvisation with her students. She received two awards after completing the 1-year Stawisha program for being the most active teacher leader during coaching and the other for being the best implementer. Dignitas equips teachers like Philomena to improve their leadership and classroom skills to transform children’s futures.
Prisca Ngwenya, Maharishi Invincibility Institute (South Africa)
“At MII, I’ve learned to develop myself through Consciousness-Based Education. We have work-study programs where you can earn a stipend. I’ve worked as a student coach and I currently work for the marketing department as an intern, focusing on student recruitment. It’s never too late to become who you want to be. I discovered my life’s purpose and the value of perseverance — not just for myself but also for those around me.”
Prisca and her mother never imagined she would attend university until they heard about Maharishi Invincibility Institute (MII) in Johannesburg. She took a leap of faith, traveled to South Africa, applied and was granted a bursary to study at MII. MII supports the dreams of South Africa’s promising talent from underserved communities by providing them with an opportunity to pursue higher education and attain fulfilling careers.
Florence Adhiambo Ouma, Shujaaz Fan (Kenya)
“What advice can I share with young people like me? Starting a small business is not hard if you keep your savings well, no matter how small you think they are. Also, maintain focus and don’t listen to naysayers.”
Florence is part of a youth network in Siaya County, where she heard that Shujaaz would be holding a training session for young people who want to work in agriculture. Thanks to Shujaaz, she has learned how to improve her poultry business and plans to also expand it by planting vegetables. Based in East Africa, Shujaaz mobilizes young people by connecting them with the information, skills and resources they need to take control of their lives.
Celiwe Poto, SmartStart Franchisee (South Africa)
“Make sure your passion drives you to do what you love, then the best of it will follow and turn out to be the greatest.”
Since joining the SmartStart network in October 2019 with three children enrolled at her daycare center, Celiwe has grown the center to serve more than 20 children. She aspires to build additional classrooms to grow her center. SmartStart supports women entrepreneurs who run daycare centers while also aiming to expand access for families to quality and affordable early learning across South Africa.
Dipuo, Zlto member (South Africa)
“I am now permanently employed because of Zlto as their system was able to record all my volunteering work through an impact CV.”
Dipuo started as a volunteer with Zlto, where she gained new skills and work experience. Zlto connects unemployed youth in South Africa with ways to earn, learn and connect while encouraging positive behavior change through innovative rewards systems.