SEGA Students Attend the 2nd East African Girls’ Leadership Summit

Leadership Summit Fosters Confidence and Inspires Positive Change

Earlier this winter five SEGA students were lucky enough to attend the East African Girls Leadership Summit in Nairobi. The summit brought together girls from Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and donors from the US. Participants from Akili Dada, Kenya Education Fund, and Asante African also attended the summit. The summit was led by two women from Art Corps who inspired all the participants with their energy, openness and knowledge.  The main goal of the summit was to encourage girls to use their creative skills (theater performances, songs, dances, art, etc.) to kindle their leadership skills and confidence.

Over the course of 4 days students participated in many interactive workshops that helped the girls build self confidence and identity, support their peers, inspire leadership qualities and learn about women’s rights and education.

On the first day girls made “leadership trees” that depicted their life stories – their roots, dreams, aspirations, struggles and passions. This exercise was a great introductory tool to help the girls get to know each other and build self-confidence through the process of creating and sharing their life stories.

Together on the second day, the girls created a Girls’ Bill of Rights and discussed how they could help women in their community to achieve these rights:

  • Girls have the right to appreciate and accept their bodies.
  • Girls have the right to be safe in the world.
  • Girls have the right to express themselves and their ideas with confidence.
  • Girls have the right to resist gender stereotypes / violence.
  • Girls have the right to love themselves.
  • Girls have the right to make mistakes and be proud of their successes

In the afternoon the girls visited an Yvonne, an Akili Dada fellow who started a business for girls in her community. Yvonne teaches other women to make art and jewelry which she then sells for a profit so the women can make an income. During the visit, Yvonne encouraged the girls to discuss the challenges they face in their lives so that they can work together to find sustainable solutions and empower themselves. Students in the summit made friendship bracelets, each color string representing a different aspect of the sisterhood. Students also learned how to make beads out of magazines for jewelry.

On the third day the girls used acting and performance as a means to discuss oppression and ways to transform cultural norms and make positive changes. Some of the lessons learned from this exercise are:

  • Through our diversity, we can advocate from each other
  • You should not always wait for others to help you
  • Avoid reactive responses – give yourself time and support to think before you act
  • You must be assertive and not let others take power and control over you
  • We have to be capable in everything we do because we are the ones who have the solutions in our hearts
  • Help those who are helpless
  • Do not fear, but respect others

On the final day of the summit the girls culminated all their new skills to brainstorm ways that they can share their knowledge at home in their communities and schools. Lastly, the girls participated in a graduation and affirmation ceremony.

All in all it was a very powerful experience for all the students. The girls came away feeling more confident in themselves as leaders and inspired to share their knowledge and make changes in their home communities.