Kakenya’s Dream hosted over 600 local girls, teachers, parents, and community members at the Kakenya Center for Excellence (KCE I) this weekend to celebrate the Seventh Annual International Day of the Girl.
Participants marched together through the streets of Enoosaen in a parade to raise awareness about the challenges girls face, and to demand better opportunities and conditions for girls in Kenya and around the world. Here’s what our girls had to say this year:
The celebration culminated in an inspiring speech by keynote speaker Cecilia Maito, member of the County Executive Committee for Gender and Youth Affairs in Narok County. She highlighted the importance of this years’ theme for International Day of the Girl, “With Her: A Skilled Girl Force,” and the crucial need to equip girls with the education and skills training they need now for a successful transition into the work world.
A second speaker, Lilian Ololtuaa, Sub County Clinical Officer and AIDS and STI Coordinator at the Ministry of Health, also spoke to the importance of this theme, and on some of the challenges our girls face. We know that many of the 1.1 billion girls of today’s world face a variety of obstacles that thwart their education, training, and entry into the workforce. Some of the biggest barriers both for our girls, and for others around the world, include FGM, early marriage, and pregnancy. This year, it is estimated that 12 million girls under 18 will be married, and 21 million girls between the ages of 15 and 19, and 2.5 million girls under the age of 16 years will give birth in developing countries.
Though these obstacles can seem insurmountable at times, we know that when girls are given the resources and support they need to stay in school and out of early marriages, they persist, and they thrive. At Kakenya’s Dream, our girls are raising their voices against gender inequality, injustice, and violence, and demanding that their rights be respected by all. Our girls dream of becoming doctors, pilots, judges, engineers, journalists, and more, and they are reaching for the stars to achieve these dreams.
As part of our Day of the Girl celebrations, girls were asked to write a commitment to themselves and their future by finishing the sentence “If you invest in me, I will…” Likewise, parents, teachers, and community members were also asked to make pledges to invest in and improve opportunities for the girls.
By the end of the day, hundreds of pledges and commitments were made both by the girls and other event attendees. Now, we must hold each other accountable to these promises to invest in girls and create opportunities and bright futures for them, and, by extension, their families, communities, and our world.