By: Atieno Oduor, iGLOW
Girls Leading Our World Initiatives (iGLOW) is a grassroots Kenyan NGO dedicated to advancing the personal, professional and political leadership of young girls and women in Kenya. It is run by a group of dynamic young Kenyan women, and its mission is to broaden the horizon of possibilities for young women in underprivileged regions of Kenya and to advance the next generation of Kenyan leaders.
In iGLOW-targeted rural areas in Kenya, girls and women face the harshest living conditions and have the highest pregnancy and school dropout rates. Many are married and become mothers before the age of 18. The region is worst hit when it comes to gender disparity. Despite free primary education, girls make up only 39% of school enrollment. Meaningful participation by women in politics in Kenya remains insignificant.
Because girls and women are the most marginalized in the political process in Kenya, iGLOW believes that girls must be prepared and inspired from a young age to be political leaders in order to have the greatest impact in their lives and communities. This political empowerment will help break the cycle of poverty, poor governance and adverse gender disparities.
iGLOW’s creative approach uses young people who can easily identify with and inspire the younger generation. We position youth ambassadors, young female and male role models who have recently graduated from university, as the agents for empowering young rural girls and facilitating iGLOW trainings. In primary schools, we recruit exceptional high school girls to co-facilitate sessions with ambassadors.
Since 2010, we have worked with 3000 girls and provided 51 hands-on leadership trainings in Siaya County in Nyanza province. We have had significant impact with the girls we work with, particularly in stemming dropout and pregnancy rates. In Ukwala girls’ primary school, which educates girls ages 7-14, dropout rates in 2011 were at 50%. By the end of 2012, after the implementation of the iGLOW program, there were no dropouts or pregnancies.
In terms of leadership, through a mix of practical leadership trainings, community action projects, leadership camps, girls’ political forums, and the “Her Presidential Campaign” initiative, girls have initiated their own community leadership projects and started ten school clubs. More than 95% of girls who participate in iGLOW’s trainings aspire to be leaders and run for elective office. The most powerful evidence of the program is illustrated in the girls’ own words:
“Before iGLOW, I did not know that in this world full of vegetation there could be a girl that leads another country.” – a 10-year-old girl
“iGLOW made me to be proud of myself. Before they had come in our school, I did not expect myself to be an important person in front of people who can lead, from that day onwards I do always believe in myself, and because of this, I have improved in everything.” – an 11-year-old girl
iGLOW continues to demonstrate that girls can be at the forefront of social change and that young girls can be leaders in their own right. Support iGLOW’s project on Catapult.
Photo via iGLOW