By Joyce Ngumba

The Akili Dada fellowship program has been running since 2013 when we welcomed our first cohort of 5 young women social innovators! This year we welcome our 5th cohort, 15 young women from Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and South Sudan.

Today I sat down and listened to their stories, their motivation for starting their initiatives and I am even more convinced that young women can change the world. These young women have devised tangible solutions for the problems that ail their communities. These young women are addressing the following issues;

1.     Female genital mutilation in West Pokot

2.    Early marriage in the Dadaab refugee camp

3.    Fistula in Embu

4.    Youth unemployment in Uganda

5.    Agribusiness for rural women farmers in Tanzania

6.    Lack of role models and school retention for girls in South Sudan

7.    School retention and lack of role models for teenage girls in Kawangware informal settlement

8.    Sex workers in Kampala, Uganda

9.    Teenage pregnancy in girls in Western Kenya

10.  Unemployment of single mothers in Nairobi

11.   Lack of income for widows in Kitui

12.  Gender-based violence in Tanzania

13.  Low self-esteem among the youth

14.  Lack of pads and school retention of girls in Marsabit County through the provision of sanitary pads and underwear

15.  Mental health among children in Mukuru Kwa Njenga informal settlement

As I sat and listened to the reasons why these young women have decided to address these issues, I am amazed by their passion and determination to ensure that we live in a just society free from the ills that plague our communities.

For the next 15 Wednesdays, I will focus on each fellow, their own story, their project and their hopes for the future. Join me as I share their stories. To support a fellow or the fellowship program, contact Joyce Ngumba at