“The thing about inequality and gender bias is how sneaky it is, it’s not that simple to identify because of the way our society is structured.”
Nerima Wako is Founder and Executive Director of Siasa Place, based in Nairobi, Kenya, which works to inform and engage youth on how politics directly affects their communities. Through Siasa Place, Nerima is helping to challenge gender bias and inequality and enhance civic dialogue by creating a space for women and youth to discuss their constitutional rights, governance, and the electoral process. Siasa Place has a network of thousands of youth and works in 10 counties advocating for greater youth inclusion as well as gender equality. Their work had led to the formation of several policies and bills centred on young people.
“Inequality is seen as the norm. So to challenge it, one has to be intentional every day, to learn and unlearn. And that is difficult to do but worth it.”
“I choose to challenge a negative narrative – whether it’s about menstruation or our ancient wisdom.”
Suparnaa Chadda is a media professional and women’s rights activist with a deep interest in spirituality and leadership. She is the founder of Simply Suparnaa Media Network and Woman Endangered, a non-profit initiative working to change how society perceives gender roles in order to remove biases, stigmas, and stereotypes at all levels.
“I believe in Shakti, the feminine creative energy of the universe. Creation is the very essence of our existence. Cultural references for celebrating menstruation are replete wherever Shakti is revered as the feminine energy.”
In her work, Suparnaa is strongly committed to women’s equity, and she regularly conducts menstrual hygiene workshops for educational institutions and for women living in low-resource communities. Woman Endangered also initiated the #LetsTalkPeriod campaign to promote gender equity and sustainability by providing facts on menstruation and offering sustainable menstrual solutions to women and girls. Suparnaa believes that leadership and spirituality are interconnected and have the potential to bring about large-scale change in society.
“There’s a lot to learn from our mothers and great grandmothers and imbibe these learnings into the children that we raise!”
“I have learnt that all I need to do is my small thing, and it will always create a ripple effect making a whole lot of difference. Together we can create an inclusive world if we do our small part to make a big change.”
Carol Ng’ang’a is a cervical cancer survivor and founder of Held Every Lady in Distress (HELD) Sister, an organisation that helps cancer survivors and patients get their lives back on track and educates women on sexual and reproductive health. HELD Sister enlightens people on how to access proper medical care and provides a platform for women to share experiences with cancer, encourage each other, and fight the stigma surrounding the illness.
Lack of proper psychological and nutritional support led Carol to challenge herself to become the voice of awareness-creation on cancer prevention and management for women. Through partnerships, Carol’s work has facilitated screening for more than ten thousand women in rural Kenya.
“What drives me is my desire to be an instrument of healing in a broken world. Be a source of light in the darkest hour.”
“When I look back at my initial reporting on TV, I shudder and wonder, ‘who let me go on air like that? Such a rookie!’ But I’m glad that someone gave me that opportunity to be a changemaker.”
Dr. Mercy Korir is a medical doctor, multimedia health journalist, and editor. She is a recipient of the Uzalendo Award, the Kenyan Presidential Order of Service for her contribution to the fight against coronavirus in Kenya. Dr. Korir is also a Fellow of the International Center for Journalists, host of the weekly KTN News Health Digest TV programme, and contributor to The Standard news media outlet.
“I am glad that someone saw my vision, believed in me and gave me the opportunity to jump into the deep end and influence Kenyan and African media in an unprecedented way that hopefully will translate to lasting change in the health sector, an area that I am passionate about.”
Through her TV show and articles, Dr. Korir highlights the importance of access to sexual and reproductive healthcare and has helped to shape policy narratives and discussion around these topics in Kenya.
“As women, we have to be deliberate and purposeful in challenging the things that have held us back for many years. We need not fear to fail, we should just start and hand over the baton when one’s time comes to exit the scene.”
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