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My YALILearns: Educating My University About Gender-Based Violence
March 7, 2023

A guest blog by YALI Network member Thomas Kipkemboi

A headshot photo of YALI Network member Thomas KipkemboiI am Thomas Kipkemboi from Nairobi, Kenya, and a bona fide member of the YALI Network for over three years. I helped organize an independent and actively engaged student group we have named YALI Meru University, where we serve as allies and mentors within the university community to offer educational insights and connect community members. We uplift minority groups and help them re-energize and get back on their feet.

I first became interested in supporting the empowerment of women and participating in gender equality projects during university. When I joined Meru University of Science and Technology, I participated in clubs and social groups where matters such as menstrual and reproductive health, female genital mutilation, and women’s rights were discussed. Later, I read an email from the YALI Network titled “International Day of the Elimination of Violence Against Women,” prompting us to organize a YALILearns event that would educate the community on the need to eliminate violence against women. So, my team and I organized one within the university.

I decided to organize a YALILearns event on that subject because it is so shameful to allow heinous acts such as sexual harassment, violence, and conflict to control our society. We held the YALILearns event within the university premises. There were approximately 28 people in attendance, which is 79% of the YALI Meru University student group. I used the Africa4Her Community Dialogue on Gender-Based Violence (GBV) Facilitation Guide for steps to mobilize my team and pursue the event to completion. I also watched the Understanding GBV Video Vignettes and did an online course. These online resources greatly impacted the success and betterment of the event because of their rich content.

That YALILearns event was an opportunity for those who were unfamiliar with the issue of gender-based violence to learn more.  The session focused on helping attendees understand and recognize GBV in order to prevent abusive acts from happening. The biggest lessons learned from the participants were:

Thomas and students at Meru University hold signs outside from their YALILearns event on understanding and eliminating gender-based violence.
Thomas Kipkemboi and the YALI Meru University student group participate in a YALILearns understanding gender-based violence event on International Day of the Elimination of Violence Against Women.
  1. We are called as a society to empower women in our places of work, homes, churches, and other social spaces.
  2. Personal growth and development are achieved when we engage in team-building activities that are of value to our community and society.
  3. Our community becomes well-grounded and credible when we speak up. Social media can be a platform to bring attention to initiatives that create positive change, hence building connections across social media is essential to bring people together for these causes.

The YALI Network has transformed the lives of many. I am enjoying the ride with the network, and I can’t wait to take part in future campaigns from this valued program.  I can be reached across social media as Thomas Kipkemboi. My Twitter is @kipkemboi_tom, and YALI Network members can reach out to me via email at thomaskipkemboi01@gmail.com.

Are you interested in learning more about women’s empowerment and gender equality? Visit our Africa4Her page for more tools and resources. 

The views and opinions expressed here belong to the author or interviewee and do not necessarily reflect those of the YALI Network or the U.S. government.