Smart Girl Stories
Stories of inspiration from Smart Girl Stories across the globe. Understanding how racism, and priviledge affect young women and girls in Kenya.

Understanding how racism, and priviledge affect young women and girls in Kenya.

Hey Smart Girl? What’s up?

Today’s word – Intersectionality!

Today, I’d like to discuss what makes us unique, beautiful, standout, and sometimes, different. Sometimes, other people might make it seem like our uniqueness is undesirable, which is false. I’m Elvine, and I’m here to remind you how incredibly amazing you are.  I want to tell you about the “‘We Lead’ project to give context to some of the different things that make us unique.

So, What’s the scoop? Why “‘We Lead’?

Monica, one of the project’s implementation officers, was kind enough to meet with me and educate me about the project.

“‘We Lead’ is about the young women and girls who are minoritized beyond their gender. It’s about girls living with HIV/AIDS, differently-abled, living in humanitarian crises, and those that are queer or Gender non-conforming. We created this space for them to interact openly and freely about their rights”, she said.

These groups of girls are referred to as the right-holder groups. If you are part of any of these right-holder groups, I’d like to remind you that your uniqueness should never limit how you experience life or show up for yourself. You are worthy.

The “‘We Lead’ project addresses the unique needs of young women and girls whose intersecting identities shape their experiences and participation in public life. To better understand this, Intersectionality is the acknowledgment that everyone has their own unique experiences of discrimination and oppression, and we must consider everything and anything that can marginalize people – gender, race, class, sexual orientation, and physical ability.

Monica says that intersectionality encourages gender diversity and inclusion by creating safer spaces for girls in all their diversity.

“We are intentional in making sure that no one is left behind,” she adds.

As you might understand now, you might experience discrimination for being queer, living in a poverty-stricken country, or simply being a girl. Could you imagine that? To embrace intersectionality, the project collaborates with thirteen organizations in different parts of the country to advance the sexual and reproductive rights of minoritized young women and girls.

Each of these rights-holder groups faces distinct challenges related to sexual and reproductive health rights, often neglected due to their minority status under the broader category of women and girls. For example, girls and young women in Afghanistan are denied their right to education simply because they are girls! Can you imagine that? How horrible would it be if your government decided to put an end to the education of women and girls? And that’s not the only case.

For instance, girls and young women in Kenya living with HIV/AIDS grapple with stigma and discrimination, unfairly associated with promiscuity. Sadly, some of these individuals acquired the disease through factors like sexual abuse or were born with it. Unfortunately, societal biases sideline girls when decisions about their communities are made, significantly impacting their quality of life and public participation.

Differently, abled girls endure a heartbreaking lack of bodily autonomy, as many are denied the right to make decisions about their bodies. Forced sterilization is a common violation, driven by the unfounded fear that girls might give birth to differently-abled children. Some communities, influenced by illiteracy and regressive cultural beliefs, view disability as a curse, further restricting the reproductive rights of differently-abled women. To counter this, the “‘We Lead’ project actively advocates for the Disability Bill 2023 in Kenya, which strongly supports bodily autonomy for Persons With Disabilities.

In conflict-ridden areas globally, girls and young women living in humanitarian crises face heightened risks of sexual abuse, unintended pregnancies, and sexually transmitted infections, including HIV/AIDS. As you are aware, there are ongoing wars in different parts of the world, like Gaza, and the most affected people are women and children. In such instances in Kenya, the ‘We Lead project collaborates with organizations like the Inuka Success Organization and Resilience in Action in Dadaab and Kakuma IDP camps in Kenya, improving healthcare access in these vulnerable regions.

Within the queer community in Kenya, fear looms large due to the potential implementation of harsh anti-LGBTQIA legislation, mirroring the experiences of their Ugandan counterparts. The current homophobic Family Bill in the Kenyan parliament, supported by religious institutions and individuals claiming queerness is ‘un-African,’ worsens this fear.

“The ‘We Lead Project has given me the rare opportunity to participate in impactful policy-making processes in the country; I feel heard. That’s what I’m most grateful about,” shares Pauline Mary, a young woman who’s part of that We Lead Project.

The ‘We Lead project highlights the impact of excluding specific groups of young women and girls from decision-making spaces. Collaborating with state agencies, including the Ministry of Health, the project empowers the four right-holder groups to advocate for inclusive, dignified, and accessible healthcare programs. I’d love to remind you that despite your uniqueness, never fail to show up for yourself authentically. Be You, Be Bold, and Be Beautiful.

Like always, virtual hugs, Elvine.

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.


Smart Girl Stories shares stories of inspiration from writers across the globe.

We ask each writer to adhere to our Smart Girl Stories pledge. The views expressed in our articles are those of the author and are meant to spark conversation and inspire you. They don’t necessarily reflect the opinions of SmartGirl Stories. We are honored to share their stories, as well as yours. To learn more – visit us here.

Follow Me

Don't be shy, get in touch. We love meeting interesting people and making new friends.