Girls at the Heart of It
Comprehensive Sexuality Education in Kenya
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About the Episode
How are young women leaders spreading knowledge and activism to take control of their own futures?
Nearly all studies show that comprehensive sexuality education decreases the risk of unintended pregnancy, HIV and other STIs, and sexual violence. Yet across Kenya and in many places around the world, community resistance and biases, political opposition, and lack of funding prevent young people from accessing their right to sexual and reproductive health information. The result is that more than 390,000 10-19 year olds become pregnant in Kenya annually, according to the most recent UNFPA data.
Today, young Kenyan women and girls are taking their futures into their own hands. In “Girls at the Heart of It,” audiences follow two young women from Akili Dada, a women-led grassroots organization focused on empowering girls and young women ages 13-22 to become leaders in Kenya, including through sexual and reproductive health advocacy. Through high school- and university-level programs, teenage girls and young women at Akili Dada are building skills to raise awareness about sexual and reproductive health and rights in their communities, and challenging norms and perceptions to help their peers take better control of their bodies and their futures. Alongside their stories, audiences meet Purity Kagwiria, Akili Dada’s Executive Director, whose own personal experiences have led her to a lifelong commitment to support women and girls in her community.
Meet the Activist: Purity Kagwiria
Purity Kagwiria is a feminist activist and storyteller based in Nairobi, Kenya, and the Executive Director of Akili Dada, a leadership incubator for girls and young women who are passionate about social change.
Purity is passionate about girls' education, gender equality, and enabling girls and young women to access spaces to advance themselves and their communities. She sees herself as a learning leader who is committed to cultivating authentic and empathetic leadership in herself and others. She has dedicated her life to ensuring that girls and young women from poor backgrounds can have opportunities to dream and work towards the futures they hope to see.
Purity serves as an advisory member of East Africa Girls’ Brain Trust, has previously served as a founding advisory committee member of FRIDA | The Young Feminist Fund, and in early 2015, she was named as one of the “18 Phenomenal African Feminists to know and watch.” In 2016, she was named a finalist of the Most Influential Women in Governance and Business in Africa award.
Spotlight on the issue
Gender justice activists are working to advance comprehensive sexuality education and encourage girls’ leadership—not just in Kenya but around the world. Meet some of Global Fund for Women’s grassroots grantee partners who are leaders in the movement for comprehensive sexuality education and girls’ leadership.
Muntada (Arab Forum for Sexuality Education and Health)
"Comprehensive sexuality education is fundamental because it creates a safe place to question taboos."
Muntada promotes sexuality as a human right. The group uses a rights-based approach to their work and believes that understanding sexuality and gender is a necessary part of ending gender-based violence. The group focuses on awareness-raising and education with women and girls about their rights, including comprehensive sexuality education.
Pastoralist Girls Initiative
"Community participation is fundamental because communities have solutions to their own problems."
Pastoralist Girls Initiative puts transformational social change at the foundation of their work with girls and young women. The group works with girls to develop their self-esteem, decision-making skills, life skills, and peer-to-peer education. Pastoralist Girls Initiative organizes girls-only groups that bring peers and mentors together to build supportive relationships with each other, creating a safe space so girls can meet to discuss their issues privately. They also work with teen mothers at their “catch-up”centers so these teens can take remedial classes and return to school when they are ready.
Education as a Vaccine
"Changing social norms is fundamental because girls and young women should know that they matter and they are powerful."
Education as a Vaccine works in partnership with children, adolescents, and young adults to advance their right to health and protection from all forms of violence by strengthening capacities, providing direct services, and influencing policies to improve their quality of life.
"Consent is fundamental because it’s the foundation of a healthy relationship."
The YP foundation is a youth-run organization that empowers young people to access and use information about their health, education, and rights, including around comprehensive sexuality education. YP’s mission is to develop feminist and rights-based leadership in young people so that they can create programs and policies that meet their needs – and be prepared as the next generation of gender justice movement leaders.
Facts & Figures
Comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) is key to ensuring girls and young women have the knowledge they need to live their dreams.
But what exactly is CSE? What are some of the outcomes? What are the barriers in ensuring it’s implemented? Learn more in this infographic.
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