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Winnie Mueni – Empowering Young Women and Advocating for Change

Oct 31, 2023

Who is Winnie?

‘’I am Winnie, a dynamic and empathetic individual deeply passionate about social issues affecting young girls and women. I grew up in a vibrant rural neighborhood in Makueni County, and my childhood has always been a strong motivation for me to advocate for community engagement. In my personal life, I enjoy mentoring and empowering young girls through various grassroots community workshops and mentorship programs.

 💡 A significant part of what I am doing today was ignited during the Participate 2022 international conference that brought together young people from Kenya, Zimbabwe, and Denmark. During this interactive conference, I was challenged to see young people who are founders of progressive organizations. I was personally inspired by organizations like the Lunia Center for Youth from Zimbabwe and the work of Tatianah and Raramai from Denmark in their respective communities.

Professionally, I am a dedicated advocate for teenage pregnancy prevention, Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV), and menstrual health hygiene. I hold a degree in Gender and Development studies and work for a non-profit organization that focuses on preventing teenage pregnancy and GBV in schools and communities. In my role, I collaborate with schools, local governments, and NGOs to implement comprehensive sex education programs that aim to reduce teenage pregnancy rates. Additionally, I am the founder of the Center for Innovation and Education—which was born after Participate 2022—and the team lead of the WE FOR SHE Movement, a youth-led feminist movement based in Mombasa County. Through the WE FOR SHE Movement, I have been implementing my change project, thanks to Youth Alive.’’

Tell us about your organization.

‘’The WE FOR SHE Movement is a young women-led grassroots movement operating in Mombasa County. Established in November 2022, our vision is to create a society free from teen pregnancy and SGBV, and our mission is to provide diverse young women with a voice to advocate for their rights and the rights of other young women in decision-making spaces. The movement was born out of the efforts of seven active young women who felt the need to address the high rates of teen pregnancy and SGBV in Mombasa County, specifically in Nyali and Kisauni sub-counties. Additionally, the Center for Education and Innovation, which I founded, operates in Makueni County, focusing on advancing the literacy levels of rural communities.’’

What challenges have you faced in this work as a young leader?

‘’One of the initial challenges was securing like-minded young people to kickstart the movement or organization and sustain our interventions. As a young leader, I had to get creative and often relied on my own savings and grassroots fundraising efforts to get the movement and the organization I founded off the ground. Another challenge was managing diverse young people. Movements often involve individuals with diverse backgrounds and viewpoints. Managing conflicts and ensuring that everyone’s voices were heard required strong leadership and conflict resolution skills.’’

What are your proudest achievements as a young leader?

‘’One of my proudest achievements as a young leader is that I lead and am a founder of the most vibrant youth-led feminist movement in Mombasa County. Our work has been recognized nationwide, and we were part of the 16 grassroots community-based organizations from Kisumu, Nairobi, and Mombasa counties, mapped by the Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights Alliance (SRHR Alliance) and The Centre for the Study of Adolescents (CSA) as grassroots SRHR champions.

Another significant achievement has been the success of our inter-teen football club competition, aimed at providing educational resources to underserved youth in our area with information on how to prevent teenage pregnancy. We have managed to reach over 500 young people in our one year of existence.’’

What has it taken to achieve your success? What advice would you give to other young leaders trying to build organizations?

‘’To achieve success, having a clear and compelling vision for our organizations has been crucial. We defined our mission, goals, and the impact we wanted to achieve, making sure that our vision inspired us and others.

Strategic partnerships have also played a significant role in the success of the WE FOR SHE Movement. Surrounding ourselves with a supportive network, such as Akili Dada and CWID, has been beneficial.’’

Parting Shot?

‘’The world is in need of the young people’s leadership. I urge young people not to wait for the right time or the perfect opportunity. Young people need to step up and embrace leadership now. We have the energy, fresh perspectives, and the power to make a significant impact. Our voice matters, our ideas are valuable, and our actions can shape a better tomorrow. Leadership isn’t defined by age; it’s defined by the willingness to take responsibility and lead with purpose. So, don’t just follow the path; blaze your own trail, inspire others, and be the change you wish to see in the world. The future is in our hands, let’s lead with passion, purpose, and pride.’’

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