Distinguished Guest Speaker Dr Musimbi Kanyoro: Education Unveils Our Shared Humanity

“For every year of education added to a girl child, ten years of better decisions are made.” This is one of the powerful impact messages that were delivered by Dr Musimbi Kanyoro, the former President and CEO of Global Fund for Women, in our ongoing Distinguished Guest Speaker series.

The speaker series was attended by students and staffulty at ALA. This series brings some of the world’s most influential leaders to ALA, who share lessons and insights with students and staffulty based on a wide range of expertise and experience in governance, academia, advocacy work and entrepreneurship.

Kanyoro’s talk, titled Lessons From A Life of Advocacy, shared with us four core messages, drawing from her wealth of experience with fighting for the rights of women and girls in Africa: education underlines the shared humanity of women and men, and it should make us aware of the persistent inequality between their access and privileges.

She also reminded us of our great responsibility as young African leaders to ensure our values and ethics are not just for our close friends and family to see but should also be clear in one’s work and when one is in a position of leadership.“Behaving well” was also a matter of how we always acted in accountability to everybody around us. This connects to ALA’s values of bringing up ethical, entrepreneurial leaders of Africa.

Kanyoro was appointed CEO of the World YWCA in 1998

Dr Musimbi Kanyoro

She also shared that even though “self-care” wasn’t really a thing when she was growing up, it is indeed important to practice it as a matter of being a good leader. Her talk comes as ALA students and staffulty observe World Mental Health Awareness month, through various activities, classes and learnings.

Aside from her work with Global Fund for Women, Kanyoro was appointed CEO of the World YWCA in 1998 and was the first non-white woman to hold the role after 150 years of existence. During her tenure, she made the organization a go-to organization for young women in leadership and for HIV prevention and care. She also transformed the World YWCA, with young women under 30 making up 55% of the Global Board of Trustees.

Musimbi also worked as the Executive Secretary for Women in Church and Society at the Lutheran World Federation for 10 years, where she influenced many policies including one that ensured an equal 50% of women on governing boards and giving no less than40% of the Federation resources to causes that impact women’s lives.

Musimbi’s early work focused on the self-determination of African peoples and the abolition of apartheid in South Africa. She was a national student leader who quickly took leadership on a wider stage, serving on United Nations and other International and Ecumenical Youth Forums, including an early role as the National Executive Secretary for the United Nations Student Association.

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