The International Day of the Girl Child is commemorated each year on October 11 in a bid to amplify girls’ voices and stand up for their rights. The theme for this year is, “My voice, our equal future”, and it’s call for us to reimagine a better world inspired by adolescent girls – energized and recognized, counted and invested in.
In order for the adolescent girls all over the world to achieve this, we must listen and act on their cries and demands, which include living free from gender-based violence, harmful practices, and HIV and AIDS, learning new skills towards the futures they choose and allowing them to lead as a generation of activists accelerating social change.
Moja Tu is proudly a woman-led organization and we are thus at the forefront of leading efforts towards a positive social change including gender equality. We live by the words of Nelson Mandela, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” By equipping the girls in the program with education, we are empowering them to take advantage of the opportunities that lay before them.
We had a sit down with Joy Katani, Dinel Wangari and Agnes Ndete who are testament of the work Moja Tu is doing to empower girls.
Joy Katanu, a third-year Bachelor’s of IT student at the Dedan Kimathi University, has experienced first-hand the empowering nature of education.
“I grew up knowing that a girl’s place is in the kitchen and education was thus but a formality,” she says.
Fortunately, she didn’t let this sink into her head and thus desired to be educated and be able to impact the world like the women she read about in newspapers and saw on TV. But having a desire to do something and being able to do it are two different kettles altogether.
“I didn’t know if I would be able to pursue education because my mother could not afford it. Between providing food and shelter for us and education, the basic needs won hands down,” she says.
In 2014, she got selected to join the Moja Tu program. She was then in form one. “I am now in a better position to take on the world and impact my community. I am a strong, independent and confident woman thanks to the efforts that the organization has put in place to ensure that I grow holistically. All I can say is, watch this space,” she says.
Dinel Wangari is a first-year student at Kenyatta University where she is pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in film technology. Prior to joining Moja Tu, she couldn’t focus on her studies as she was sent home so many times due to lack of school fees.
“It was disheartening and I couldn’t really settle in class knowing that anytime, the headteacher would walk in with a list of those to be sent home. My name never missed on the list,” Dinel shares.
Such incidences batter one’s self-esteem and confidence and Dinel was not an exception. Thankfully, Moja Tu has mentorship sessions that go a long way in instilling confidence in young people like Dinel and making them believe in themselves and their abilities.
Dinel’s future goal is to be a film director and to open up her own studio. “I am only able to dream now because Moja Tu has given me hope of a bright future. Moja Tu came into my life when I was almost giving up. Now I am inspired to chase my goals,” she says.
Agnes Ndete joined Moja Tu five years ago and she has grown into a confident girl and such a go getter. She says Moja has not only given her hope, but also shown her that she matters and given her an opportunity of a lifetime.
“The gift of education is like no other. I am currently in form four and working hard so that I can also join university like those who have gone ahead of me,” she says.
Agnes reveals that Moja Tu has planted a seed of service in her. “Once I am through with my studies and working, I will reach back and lift another girl just like Moja Tu did for me,” she enthuses.
As we join the rest of the world to celebrate this day, as Moja Tu, we renew our commitment to help Kenyan girls break boundaries and shatter the glass ceiling that might have been placed by them or society.
Truly, “If you educate a woman, you educate a family; if you educate a girl, you educate the future,” says Rania Al-Abdullah, the queen consort of Jordan.