“The Emerging Leaders Foundation training taught me how to add value to society and see beyond myself”
Grace Mageka is a young woman who wears many hats. She is the founder of Sisterhood for Change and Empowerment Center, an organization that is keen on ensuring that both women and men actively participate in monitoring of policies on Gender Equality. Grace is also the founder of Sisterhood Ventures Africa, a continental organization that encourages young African women to step into the entrepreneurship and creative business spaces. The participants are trained on effective branding and marketing strategies to help in making their products be outstanding. In addition, Grace is currently furthering her studies in Global Governance at the University of Rome Tor Vergata in Rome, Italy.
“I am very passionate about human rights and citizen participation (especially women) in good governance. My ideal world is one in which everyone supports good governance” ~Grace Mageka
When did you join the Emerging Leaders Foundation (ELF) Leadership training?I joined the ELF leadership training in Mid June -2013 and graduated in 18th November 2014. I learnt about it through a friend – Michelle Emali who had joined the program a few weeks earlier. She encouraged me to sign up as they were in the process of recruiting.
How did the training impact your life?
The Emerging Leaders Foundation leadership training has had great impact in my life. It taught me how to add value to the society, how to invest in productive values and the need for team work. We got to know each other very well as participants through the storytelling and life-map sessions. Despite us coming from different walks of life, we quickly bonded and worked in unity.
The leadership training also made me open up to the world by expanding my imagination. While taking the Leadership course, I was able to identify numerous opportunities out there. Caren Wakoli, our mentor and the founder of the Organization always shared opportunities with us. For instance, I remember her sending us an email urging us to apply for the First Africa Youth Day celebrations that was held in Hammamet Hotel Tunis, Tunisia in November 2013. We all applied but only one of us was selected to attend the celebrations. She represented Kenya in Tunisia, and came back with exciting news on the whole experience – insightful and full of networking with the AU secretariat and other youth leaders from all over Africa. This really inspired me to keep looking and applying for opportunities all over the world.
A few months later, I was selected as the only Kenyan to represent Kenyan Youth at the Euro African Youth Parliament that was held in Berlin, Germany. I will never forget my first trip abroad. I knew nothing about Europe but I was overjoyed to represent Kenya at this first ever Euro African parliament. While in Germany I established my first international contacts with some of the youth that one of us had met during the Africa Youth Day Celebrations.
After the Euro African Parliament, I learned that it is indeed possible to travel the world. Since then, I have had several opportunities to represent Kenya both regionally and globally for various programmes, which transformed and opened my eyes to soar for greatness and not to ever settle for less. I have since then visited several countries on different missions. I am currently in Rome, Italy for further studies in Global Governance.
Have you had any platforms to exercise your leadership skills since your training?
Yes. I am currently serving as a Global Youth Leader with Restless Development Youth Power Campaign, focusing on Sustainable Development Global Goal 5 that advocates for Gender Equality and committed to work towards advocating for the achievement of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the World. Besides that, after completing the Emerging Leaders Foundation training I had an opportunity to serve as a female representative in Africa for the Action 2015 and also be a youth champion for the Voice Africa’s Future where I mobilized both young men and women to take ownership of the post 2015 SDGs and participate in the post 2015 process, and make their voices heard through the Voice Africa’s Future campaign before the adoption of the SDGs in New York in 2015.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I will be actively contributing to Kenya’s social and economic development by engaging and empowering the younger generation on why it is important for them to participate in governance to promote democracy and social justice in Kenya.
What change would you want to make and be remembered for?
For fostering a strong and vibrant democracy characterized by strong relationships across divides, leadership development and lifting up the voices of all people. I plan to serve others, through political leadership at different levels, making laws and policies that benefit everyone, and above all be accountable to them as a duty bearer.
Please share your word of advice to fellow youth interested in your line of work?
We are living in a complex world and we expect more unpredictable complexities. We need advanced minds to imagine and prepare for the future. We need to invest in creativity and innovation; and strategic and critical thinking with a spider effect to pragmatically solve the world’s complexities that are entangled, unfolded and cannot be explained with the classical science because complex problems always need adequate complex problem solvers. Let’s train our minds to see multiple scenarios, think multi-lateral, observe the world through a complex eye, and view things from multiple stand points.
Lastly, NEVER GIVE UP. FOLLOW YOUR ASPIRATIONS. YOU ARE THE FUTURE. This is not time to despair. Always believe in yourselves and know that you’re capable of doing it. We are the carriers of our vision 2030 and Agenda 2063; we are the future. It doesn’t matter what your goals are, it just means that you’re moving forward and progress is to be focused on. This is the time to fight for our people, our land and our communities. Let’s strive to make Kenya, Africa and the world a better place for humanity.
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