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Stories of inspiration from Smart Girl Stories across the globe. She Leads; Empowering Girls to Shape the Future

She Leads; Empowering Girls to Shape the Future

Hey, Smart Girl! It’s so smart of you to stop by and educate yourself about what is happening in different parts of the world. I’m Elvine from Kenya, and I’m delighted to take you on a virtual tour to experience the positive impact we are creating in Kenya through the She Leads project. If anything, I hope this article inspires you to fire up your day. Let’s dive in!

Girls and young women in Kenya have historically faced exclusion from decision-making spaces due to cultural practices that dictate their place in society, affirming gender roles. In case you are wondering, Gender roles are like invisible rules in society that say what people expect girls and boys to do. For example, some people might think girls should like certain colours or play with certain toys, while boys should like different things. But guess what? You get to decide what makes you happy and comfortable, making you a smart girl! This exclusion has resulted in social issues like gender-based violence, defilement, rape, child marriages, forced motherhood, and reproductive coercion, particularly affecting differently-abled young women and girls.

In 2021 the She Leads project began its empowerment plan, aimed at enhancing the capacities of young women and girls to participate in influential decision-making spaces actively. Over the past three years, these girls and young women have made significant strides in advancing gender equality by asserting their presence in crucial forums and expressing their voices, views, and opinions, which the government and other stakeholders have adopted. Always remember that as a smart girl, your voice and opinion matter and can be used to shape the future.

Presently, girls and young women are actively drafting the zero draft of the Gender bill in Kenya in collaboration with the Ministry of Gender, the Arts, and Heritage. Yes, you read that right girl! In your unique way, you could influence such impactful courses; all it takes is the confidence to voice your opinion. The Girls Bill Of Rights (which will be linked) grants you the power to express yourself freely, just like our Kenyan sisters. They advocate for comprehensive coverage of sexual and reproductive health rights in the bill, address the impact of unpaid care work on the education and careers of primary caregivers, who are often girls, and emphasize the meaningful participation of young women and girls in politics and governance.

Furthermore, they are advocating for the Disability Bill 2023, having submitted a memo to Members of Parliament and presented it to a section of legislators in the current government. Their advocacy on the bill focuses on bodily autonomy, opposing reproductive coercion, and demanding legal consequences for health practitioners who disrespect differently-abled girls. Reproductive coercion is the forceful sterilization of differently-abled young women and girls for the fear that their offspring are likely to be differently-abled as well, a vice that directly undermines their right to bodily autonomy.

Through the She Leads project, the Ministry of Gender, Arts, Heritage, The Judiciary, and the African Gender and Media Initiative Trust jointly launched the Protection Against Domestic Violence Act Rules in September 2023. This milestone not only protects survivors of domestic violence but also improves access to justice. The launch ensured that reporting forms were available in hospitals, police stations, and courts for free, ensuring justice was served within 60 days of filing.

To support this effort, girls and young women are part of the national Anti-GBV sector working group, contributing to creating Standards of Operations for Toll lines addressing Gender-Based Violence. Additionally, Malkia John, a girl who’s part of the She Leads project, developed the Sauti Salama app for the seamless reporting of gender-based violence cases.

The She Leads project continuously empowers young women and girls to participate meaningfully in decision-making spaces while enhancing their capacities. Legislative advocacy and its positive impacts are gradually challenging societal norms that silence girls or work to ensure that girls are silenced. Beyond advocacy gains, the project empowers girls to be powerful agents of change, embracing intersectionality to advocate for causes important to them and aiming to become thought leaders in their communities for positive change.

Elvine Ouma

Elvine Ouma

With four years of experience as a freelance writer and a strong foundation in Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights advocacy, gender journalism, and climate change storytelling, I bring a unique blend of skills to the table.


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