Kakenya  Ntaiya

Kakenya Ntaiya

Life for Kakenya Ntaiya was supposed to follow the traditional path. Engaged at age 5, she was to be circumcised by the age of 13, an event that would mark the end of her education and signal her readiness for marriage. But Kakenya had a different plan. First, she negotiated with her father: she would be circumcised only if she could also finish high school. He agreed. Then she negotiated with the village elders to do what no girl had ever done: leave her village in Kenya to go to college in the U.S. She promised that she would use her education to benefit her community. After receiving a Masters in the U.S., Kakenya is now fulfilling her promise to her community. As the founder of Kakenya Center for Excellence, a girls’ primary school, Kakenya believes that education will empower and motivate young girls to become agents of change in their communities. Kakenya was honored with a Vital Voices Global Leadership award in 2008 and as a National Geographic Emerging Explorer in 2010.