January 27, 2012

The Network of Young Women Leaders is asking young Kenyan women to “Answer the Call to Lead”

Gathered at a quiet retreat center that is nestled in a residential area of Nairobi, Kenya a group of over 25 young women leaders gather for the “Answer the Call to Lead: Public Leadership Training”, a program that may change these young women’s lives and give them the skills and motivation they need to engage Kenyan policymakers on issues of legislation, and perhaps to one day run for office themselves.

The Answer the Call training was created and coordinated by The Network of Young Women Leaders (NoYWL)-----a non profit organization committed to advancing young women to take on recognized leadership and decision-making roles through public leadership training programs.  Founded in 2011, The Network of Young Women Leaders is the vision of Ms. Kinya Mururu, a young Kenyan who has managed political campaigns for women internationally, as well as been an advisor to and supporter of many organizations that are working to for women’s political equity.  As the youngest board member for Running Start, a US based nonprofit that trains and inspires high school and college women to actively pursue public leadership opportunities, Kinya witnessed the importance of “planting the seed early to encourage women to run,” and was motivated to create a similar program in Kenya.  Unlike many existing women’s political training organizations that operate in Kenya and East Africa, the Network of Young Women Leaders focuses primarily on equipping students and younger women with the various tools they need to participate in policy making---whether as a elected public officials, or in equally important supporting roles as civic leaders, business leaders and campaign contributors.

Coordinating the inaugural NoYWL’s training in the Fall of 2011was not an easy feat, but Kinya and a small network of program supporters were able to secure donations from local vendors, as well as volunteered time from talented community leaders and experts that represented both public and private sector, academia and business.  Over the course of three weekends, the Answer the Call training explored the history of public leadership in Kenya, the implications of the new Constitution, campaign management, as well as leadership building and communications skills.  The program combined classroom style dialogues lead by professionals who shared their firsthand experience with interactive leadership exercises that helped the young women find their individual voices. Based on the initial reactions of the women in attendance, the training had not only given the participants a solid foundation of public leadership skills, but also a new network of peers to turn to for support.

Planning for subsequent trainings in 2012 is underway, and many women involved in the first Answer the Call Training have met for a reunion in Nairobi to share updates and inspiration, as well as support the women in the group who are managing campaigns and running for office in 2012.  The NoYWL will be launching their new website, along with programming for this year very soon.  If you’re a young women interested in getting involved in the NoYWL, or a donor who would like to help bring future trainings and programming to fruition, please follow the organization on facebook at http://www.facebook.com/Networkofyoungwomenleaders or by sending an email to  info@thenetwork.or.ke