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Lucy Achieng’ Odiwa is a Menstrual Health Management Advocate, Quality
Health access Practitioner, Adolescent Girls SRHR Activist, Co-Founder and CEO,
WomenChoice Industries. WomenChoice Industries is a social enterprise that manufactures and distributes low cost, affordable menstrual hygiene management reusable sanitary towels “Salama Pads” to young women and girls from low resources settings in Tanzania. Ms Odiwa offers support to socially disadvantaged women on menstrual health and hygiene, business, and financial skills to equip them as vendors of reusable sanitary towels in their local community to help them earn an income by selling Salama Pads. Ms. Odiwa holds a Diploma in Clinical Medicine, Bachelor’s in Social Science Public Administration. Ms Odiwa is the first place winner of the 2018 global sustainable development goals (SDGs) and Her Competition for women micro-entrepreneurs helping to achieve the SDGs through their business operations, Lucy is also a YALIRLCEA Alumnus, Youth Solutions Program alumnus and one of the 50 top-ranked solutions and featured in SDSN Youth’s 2019 Youth Solutions Report. She is the current chairperson of the Tanga Platform Of Menstrual Health Management.
Joanna Atukunda is a social worker by profession with a Bachelor of Science in Gender and Women Health. She is passionate about transformational leadership, quality education and women’s health.
Joanna is the Founder and Team Leader of UPLIFT SLUM-AFRIKA, a non-profit organization that is aimed at equipping young adolescents in slum dwellings with comprehensive knowledge on sexual reproductive health rights and quality education. We organize training activities on adolescent education, menstrual hygiene and management, sexuality education, reproductive health rights and policies and how one can defend their rights. We also support a few students with school fees and requirements to enable them to remain in school.
Joanna is also the Co-founder and Administrator of League of Young Professionals Uganda, an organization aimed at improving the reading culture of young people in Uganda through encouraging a culture of reading among African readers. With a desire to support the quality and mindsets of youth leaders in Africa, the organization has been striving to practically nurture a new cadre of African leaders since 2016 through a formal leadership and mindset change program. The program practically focuses on three areas of improvement: African youth reading culture, mindset/attitude change, and leadership development.
She is an alumni of the Young African Leaders’ Initiative (YALI), Regional Leadership Centre Nairobi East Africa Fellow, and Mandela Washington Fellow (MWF) 2021 Alumni. She is emerging as an inspiring young East African leader in public management.
Ghislaine Akakpo has more than five years of experience improving the quality of education in rural areas of Benin. She is a 2021 Mandela Washington Fellow Alumna from the Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina, and a 2022 Alumni Enrichment Institute Program Participant at the Jackson State University in Jackson, Mississippi.
As President of her non-governmental organization, ProGen Benin, Ghislaine is currently working to improve the accessibility and quality of education, especially for girls, in underserved regions of Benin. She has been mobilizing contributions in Benin and in the United States for local communities to improve the quality of education in their schools and ensure that children have full and equitable access to basic knowledge, as well as chances to develop life skills in a safe and supportive environment. In addition, Ghislaine volunteers with local associations to raise awareness about several diseases and gender-based violence and to mentor young female leaders. With her master’s degree in law, she is committed to ensuring a suitable and inclusive educational environment for children from low-income families and to advocating for girls’ education in rural areas.
Ghislaine is currently developing solutions to maintain girls in school by tackling gender-based obstacles such as period poverty. She led many projects through her non-profit advancing menstrual health and hygiene for girls in rural communities. She is also collaborating with the BAOBAB learning platform of the MasterCard Foundation as a mentor to support and guide young people in their leadership journey.
Wamuyu (Ivy) Kuira is the Founder of KEEPING A GIRL IN SCHOOL, a non-profit organization registered in Kenya in 2019, with an aim to create awareness on menstrual hygiene management by providing free sanitary products to girls in need, educating boys and men about periods, and fostering open discussions about menstruation. She is a lover of acting and theatre performance and a graduate from KCA University in Kenya where she pursued journalism and digital media.
Through Ivy’s philanthropy, more than 20,000 girls have received sanitary towels donations in Kenya since 2019. Over the years she has been able to raise awareness about menstrual hygiene and stigmatization among more than 50,000 people, including girls and boys in Kenya.
Currently, together with her organization she is helping make reusable pads which will help sustain girls for two years.
Ivy was recognized internationally as a Menstrual Champion in Kenya, by the Lions Clubs International.
I hope to spread awareness in my community and globally of the inequities females and those who experience menstruation face due to lack of access and stigma.”
Gemma wants to become an advocate for change. In addition, she wants to educate herself further and expand her knowledge and understanding of period poverty. She also wants to provide menstrual care products to individuals who are unable to access them. Gemma’s wants to become a social justice lawyer – a dream she has cultivated for years.
One fun fact about Gemma is that she is a sous chef. She started out as a dishwasher and was promoted to running the kitchen.
Catalina hopes to raise awareness around the issue of period poverty. Her goals are to become a lawyer and use her knowledge to help people. Catalina plays football and hates to lose.
Pia desires to raise awareness on the topic of period poverty and be able to provide solutions to those in need. Her long term professional goals are to obtain a leadership role. Pia is from Mexico and has two dogs and one cat.
I want to be able to help stop injustice, and have a voice in the political world so that I can spread change and help fight for human rights.”
Lane wants to raise awareness and educate her community about the issue of period poverty. She champions the idea that menstruating individuals around the world deserve to feel clean and safe and that periods are a natural bodily function, so period products should be free and accessible to all. Lane hopes to become a lawyer and work in legislative areas of government.
Lane enjoys acting in plays and musicals. She loves the idea that in theater you can create another story and live within it as a group, making it your own.
Bagula Alain Darell is a human rights activist based in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Founder and Executive Director of WOKOVU WAY a national non-governmental organization currently supporting the education of over 300 orphaned children including some who are school age and others who are preschool age. He is a champion for engaging orphans in recreational and creative activities, and youth empowerment through servant leadership. He advocates for providing psychosocial support to victims of massacres and wars in the east of the country since September 2016. Darell also works for a comprehensive approach to sex education programming for adolescents and young people with a special focus on the best practice of menstrual hygiene management by promoting the use of locally made reusable and washable sanitary pads.
He is also an advocate for gender equality and equity in the educational system of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Stephen P. Ben is an enthusiastic and impact-oriented founder, ambassador, and volunteer with over two years of experience in nonprofit leadership. After experiencing low self-confidence, discrimination, and social isolation due to a severe stutter from birth, Stephen developed a passion for advocacy and campaigning for a just world full of equity. He has worked tirelessly to empower marginalized communities and promote equal access to opportunities.
Stephen is currently an undergraduate student at the University of Liberia, pursuing a degree in Economics with a focus on Mathematics. He is committed to academic excellence and strives to make a positive impact in his community. Stephen embodies the values of resilience, discipline, honesty, and consistency in both his personal and professional endeavors. Overall, Stephen is a dedicated and compassionate leader who is committed to making a difference in his part of the world.
Ruth Merkiki is a community and social development professional, mentor to hundreds of girls, and a feminist who is very enthusiastic about the wellbeing of the girl and boy child. She is dedicated to ensuring girl children have equal opportunities to succeed in school. She has over 10 years of experience in business, community development research and projects. Her intervention programming efforts for girl children are driven by extensive field research with multinational teams across multiple communities.
She is the Founder and Executive Director at Elle Peut Naidim (EPN), a women-led non-governmental organization legally registered in July 2020, EPN advocates for girls’ rights to education with the inclusion of boys. The initiative seeks to ensure the right to education is equally guaranteed without discrimination through improving the life of the girl child by enhancing access to education opportunities, strengthening child protection systems, facilitating access to better and affordable menstrual hygiene products (ending period poverty) and the provision of age- and context-specific menstrual health and hygiene education to girls, boys, mothers, fathers and teachers throughout Tanzania. EPN is also committed to addressing key challenges that prohibit young girls from reaching and excelling to their fullest potentials
Hawa Kipilili is an experienced teacher and facilitator. She is the co-founder and program director of a nonprofit organization based in Tanzania. She is a mentor to hundreds of adolescent girls in various schools. Hawa is passionate about education and community development, she does her best in imparting proper information to students, teachers, and parents. She has trained both Tanzanian and international schools in pedagogy and instructional best practices for the past 12 years and has a research background in health and education with a focus in northern Tanzania. She has worked with multiple international and local research-based organizations and companies. She received her B.A. in Education at the University of Dar es Salaam and her post graduate studies were completed in International Education at the University of Nottingham, UK. She has also earned a certificate in Social-Behavioral Education from the CITI program. Hawa values dedication, hard-work, honesty and strong working relationships dedicated.
Banji Kasonde Nsama is Legal Advisor and Media Coordinator for Donate a Pad Foundation from Lusaka, Zambia. She is the second born in the family of eight. She graduated from the National Institute of Public Administration with a Degree in Law. She is currently a Menstrual Hygiene Advocate with the interest of fighting period poverty in the communities around in Zambia. Banji’s role in Donate a Pad is to ensure that all media engagements are up to date. She manages the dissemination of accurate information in relation to correct menstrual hygiene practices.
Her role has helped the organization win two social media awards in 2021 and 2022 respectively for the best social media campaign. Her passion is to ensure that girls and women have access to appropriate menstrual hygiene products through sensitization and provision of menstrual products.
Asonele Kotu is a social entrepreneur and a menstrual health activist. She has experience in working for a community development centre and community college. She has worked in fundraising for non-governmental, non-profit and for CSI initiatives. Asonele transitioned from developmental work to the tech start up space through her public relations and marketing position for a software development company.
Asonele is the founder of FemConnect, an award-winning femtech startup that creates digital solutions for period poverty support and provides access to comprehensive SRHR telehealth services to achieve equality, access to diversity and quality healthcare services for all. Asonele served as the YouthLead Ambassador for South Africa in 2020 and YouthLead Ambassador advisor to the 2021 ambassadors. She is an alumni of the Academy of Women’s Entrepreneurs and a Mandela Washington Fellow. Asonele is a recipient of the 2021 Meaningful Business100 award recognised as a leader dedicating her work to tackling the world’s most pressing issues and helping achieve the UN Global Goals. Awarded the ICFP Youth Trailblazer Award for youth champions in the family planning and sexual and reproductive health and rights (SHRH) field. Asonele was named on the BBC100 Women list of inspiring and inspirational women in the world for 2022.
She is passionate about empowering girls, women, youth and communities by improving accessibility and equality of healthcare leaving no one behind through mentorship and support. Her dream is to ensure that through her work she can enable easy access to quality digital healthcare for SRHR services to reach 1 million girls in Sub-saharan Africa by 2030.
Amdiya Abdul Latiff is a multiple award-winning, menstrual equity advocate and a social innovator in eco-friendly reusable sanitary pads with over seven years of experience championing gender equity, the global SDGs, and community development in underserved areas of Ghana.
She is currently the founding Director of Eco-Me Africa and RuGirlz EMS, a social impact driven organization that has achieved a community impact of over 5,000 women and girls and their families. She has distributed over 13,000 pads along with reproductive and menstrual health education and has since impacted the health and dignity of women and girls, created employment for 25 disadvantaged women in the value chain to combat Gender-Based Violence. She has also worked to prevent 1.3 million single-use disposable sanitary pads from ending up in landfills with a vision to combat period poverty, plastic waste and high unemployment rate in rural Ghana.
Amdiya’s recent recognitions include receiving the Female-Led Green Business 2022 Award and the Yali Sustainability Excellence and Community Engagement Award, among others.
Bradley Obi the personal assistant to Ebby Weyime CEO and founder of the Grace Cup Kenya.
Ebby is a certified menstrual hygiene management trainer and consultant. Grace Cup works in providing reproductive health training and affordable reusable menstrual products for young girls and underprivileged women. Their goal is to ensure that no young girls are out of school or miss out on opportunities because they are unable to afford menstrual hygiene products.
Theresa Farai Nyava is a Menstrual Health Enthusiast and Founder of Sanitary Aid Zimbabwe Trust, a charitable organization that she started on her own when she was 21 years old. She is on a mission to eradicate menstrual poverty in Zimbabwe through distribution of free sanitary care products to disadvantaged groups of girls and women including homeless, differently abled, female prisoners and refugees, and school girls, among others. This organization also offers menstrual health and hygiene education, is very active in policy lobbying and advocacy, research and raising awareness about menstruation through writing and being featured in local and international publications. Theresa is a 2021 Mandela Washington Fellowship Alumni, 2020 Academy for Women Entrepreneurs (AWE), 2019 Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES) alumni, 2019 FemBiobiz Acceleration Season 3 National and Regional Winner, 2019 Awief Pitch, Go winner and 2019 Giraffe Heroes Award winner.
Hyasintha Ntuyeko is a social Entrepreneur and a registered Professional Engineer. She challenged her status quo 11 years ago immediately after finishing university studies. She is the founder and CEO of Kasole Secrets which creates positive change in the world by: 1) developing and selling innovative disposable sanitary pads embossed with bamboo charcoal; 2) providing menstrual health education which includes boys and men alongside girls (these activities are funded by her hybrid business model); and 3) encouraging menstrual health innovation within communities by partnering with local and international organizations. You can read her full entrepreneurship journey online at the following site: http://ns3329717.ip-94-23-51.eu/hyasintha-ntuyeko-starting-small-but-dreaming-big/.
Grace Françoise NIBIZI is the Founder and Executive Director of SaCoDé, a nonprofit Organization based in Burundi in East Africa. She created SaCoDe in her garage with a passionate vision to help disadvantaged women raise their youth children in dignity.Today, Grace oversees programs that use mobile phone SMS for reproductive health education and menstrual health and hygiene; provides counseling and services in SaCoDé youth centers, public schools and among communities; and produces education and information videos, many of which focus on the needs of youth and women’s empowerment.
She is recognized for her innovation of the Agateka sanitary pads which are washable, reusables wearable with or without an underwear for Menstrual Hygiene Management. This product is changing lives of underprivileged school girls and has now received two awards and recognitions.
She is an inspirational leader who tells stories that inspire action. She is respected as a credible voice in policy making and that allows her to earn a seat at the table where norms and standards are implemented. She was one of the speakers of the first Next Einstein Forum.
Grace is a certified participant in the International Visitor Leadership Program ( IVLP) supported by the United States Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. She is a Segal Family Foundation African Visionary almunia and a current fellow of the Duke University – UNICEF Innovation Accelerator Program. She takes a vision and makes it reality through sound strategy development.
Christine Isingoma is a mother of eight and wife to a pastor in Hoima, Uganda. She co-founded New Life Nursery and Primary School which was started in 2008 with 27 pupils. At that time, Christine and one other teacher began the vision. The classes were held in New Life Presbyterian Church. This school is part of a network of schools that partner with the initiative Knickers for New Life (KFNL) which helps provide the girl child access to Ugandan-made 95% biodegradable Makapads, builds latrines in schools, and offers boys and girls access to menstrual education workshops and Ugandan-made mosquito repellent soap.
Christine’s school partnered with KFNL in October 2016 when there were 178 students from Kindergarten through 6th grade, many of whom were poor/orphaned, and under-resourced. In 2018, enrollment jumped up to 324, with many of the new students being girls who had dropped out due to lack of resources to handle their menstrual cycle previously.
New Life Primary has gained a strong reputation in their community “for caring for the girl-child.”
Christine has been instrumental in helping establish and support partnerships with other schools in western Uganda currently benefiting more than 2,000 children.
Andrew Auruku is the CEO and Founder of Youth and Women for Opportunities Uganda (YWOU), a non-profit organization in the Teso region of Eastern Uganda. Andrew founded YWOU to provide support for the most disadvantaged social groups in the region in an effort to release them from economic and social poverty and enable them to live responsible and fulfilled lives while having good health and educational opportunities. YWOU’s mission is to improve the livelihoods of those living in the poorest communities through holistic training programs, quality educational opportunities through scholarships and bursaries, life skills and vocational training, health and wellbeing, HIV/AIDS programs, economic empowerment and family support, sports and recreation programs, and fundamental human rights and advocacy.
Andrew’s role in YWOU is establishing a vision for community impact that is achieved through the efforts of a diverse team of high-performing leaders, staff and volunteers alike. He has over ten years of experience in health and development, including education such as areas of girls’ education and social empowerment. He has skills in fundraising, leading and organizing training and educational campaigns, community mobilization, human relations, and facilitation.
Andrew holds a bachelor’s degree in Biomedical Laboratory Technology from Makerere University. As a chief mobilizer he leverages the power of relationships and networks, and works across private, public and corporate sectors to improve conditions in the community. He possesses a high level of broad business and management skills and is effective at generating resources and financial support for the organization.
His community impact responsibilities include the overall impact of Youth and Women for Opportunities Uganda-YWOU on the community, with particular emphasis on increasing its capacity to drive the impact agenda. Andrew works closely with the board to craft and adapt strategies to achieve increased impact, including raising the funds to support organizational programmes. He establishes and builds relationships with top leaders in the community, including those representing the highest levels in business, government and non-profit sectors.
He is responsible for driving key results in fundraising; identifying, cultivating and soliciting prospective donors and key leaders of prospective new corporate partners; to leverage personal and professional contacts and relationships into fundraising opportunities; and to promote a culture of fundraising in YWOU as an organization, both at the staff and board level.
He serves as the principal resource to the Board of Directors and its key committees and gives strong direction in policy formulation and interpretation. He works with the board of directors and the senior leadership team to craft organizational goals and develop strategies to ensure that they are achieved. He ensures coordination and alignment of all YWOU activities to strategic direction in the areas of community impact, resource development, and staff alignment.
You can find out more information at http://ywoug.org/ and https://www.facebook.com/YWOUg/.
Florence Akara is a former corporate lawyer with experience in Botswana, Kenya and Tanzania. She is the director of Femme International, a non-profit that has over the past eight years, offered menstrual sexual reproductive health (MSRH) education, research and product distribution in East Africa. Florence believes that investments/resources in MSRH in the past decade have not been sustainable. The status remains unchanged, still rife with stigma, taboos and myths that continue to negatively affect the physical, psychosocial health of women and girls.
Florence has dedicated her time at Femme to refining the Twende Initiative, a feminist social business solution that is key to disrupt the status quo, achieve universal menstrual equity by 2030, and generate a reliable source of income for Femme to have financial sustainably run its social impact work.
This year’s honorees include Annette Bernard, Director, Christian Cultural Center Food Pantry and Simone Muschett, Executive Director, Resilient Young Minds.
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