The team at Alphachimp get to travel the world in our capacity as doodlers, and meet amazing people who work on compelling and important projects. It's so heartening to see those people receive the accolades they deserve. This week, our friend and collaborator, Megan Mukuria, founder of the amazing Kenyan non-profit ZanaAfrica, is featured in Fast Company magazine as a member of the League of Extraodinary Women.
“Every change agent needs an agency. We've chosen 60 notable members of the League of Extraordinary Women and the organizations, both for-profit and not-for-profit, that are their vehicle to tackle areas of dire need, such as developing the next generation of female entrepreneurs…
This interconnected group of executives, philanthropists, entrepreneurs, artists, government officials, and academics is formulating groundbreaking initiatives and hacking long-outdated aid models by tapping new thinking and a growing data set that suggests that investing in girls and women will create measurable economic benefits for all.
Multiple studies over the past decade indicate that the facts are unquestionably on their side: If you train a woman in a particular skill and give her a microloan, or a way to build up some savings, she is more likely than a man to use her income to educate and care for her family and invest in the community.
In rural Africa and India, one year of secondary schooling can raise a girl's future wages by 10% to 20%. In Kenya alone, the cost of early pregnancies and limited schooling of girls is an estimated $3.4 billion in gross income--equivalent to that country's entire construction sector.”
This is exactly the angle ZanaAfrica addresses. As their website explains, Kenyan adolescent girls miss approximately 3.5 million learning days per month due to lack of funds to purchase sanitary pads. This impedes their ability to compete in the classroom, leads to low self-esteem, higher drop-out rates and, in many areas of Kenya, makes them vulnerable to early marriage. ZanaAfrica raises funds to help stock secondary schools with sanitary napkins, and is in the process of developing sustainably-crafted, locally-manufactured pads.
Alphachimp met Megan at Pop Tech 2011. For some of us, it was reunion: our studio associate Perrin is also from Megan’s hometown in Connecticut! We teamed up with her and the ZanaAfrica staff this past winter to produce a video inspired by iPad artwork made by ZanaA's EmpowerNet Club girls.
EmpowerNet Clubs are groups of about 20 girls that meet after school every day to talk about issues the girls might not be getting support around at school or home, such as peer pressure, drug use, self confidence/ esteem, relationships, love, and health and disease.
ZanaAfrica empowers Kenyan girls to break cycles of poverty through simple, sustainable solutions. Peter Durand and his daughter Lillian traveled to Africa over the winter and met with some of the girls who participate in EmpowerNet clubs, leading a workshop on illustrating on iPads and planning the video that would tell their story.
Megan’s passion exemplifies, in a nutshell, what Ellen McGirt describes as a striking characteristic of members of the League of Extraordinary Women: “In my months of reporting this story, I was struck again and again by the empathic capacity of these well-off Western women to correlate their personal and career struggles with the dire woes of girls in far-off lands. Their urgency, their emphasis on making the strategic case, and their sense that the battle is never really over come directly from their own experiences.”