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Restless Development was in Johannesburg last week, leading a Regional Consultation on Youth-Led Accountability powered by The United Nations Popular Fund and She Decides with 23 young leaders from East and Southern Africa who are experts in sexual reproductive health and rights campaigning and advocacy. Qabale Duba took part in the event.  

My name is Qabale Duba the founder of Qabale Duba Foundation. I come from Turbi, a small village in Marsabit county in the northern part of Kenya. I am the youngest of nine children and the only educated child in my family past primary level.

My educational life began at Turbi primary school followed by Moi Girls high school Marsabit for secondary education. I later joined Kenya Methodist University (KEMU) where I studied for a Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing(BScN). Currently, I am pursuing Master’s of Science Degree in Field Epidemiology at Moi University. Climbing my career ladder from primary school to where I am now, took a lot of commitments, determination and hard work. I am a go-getter, no matter how hard the situations can be I usually just smile and face it with confidence.

As the first graduate girl from my village, I decided to go back home to empower the pastoralists girls and women through different initiatives.

I come from a community with deep rooted cultures, including harmful practices like Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and early marriages. Therefore my work has focused on sexual reproductive health and rights (SRHR). I am so passionate to champion against these harmful practices because as a young girl, I underwent the FGM at the age of 11 and narrowly escaped early forced marriage when I was only 14 years old.

Talking about menstruation is a taboo in my community and many other African communities. I decided to involve community leaders as well as elected male leaders to break these silence on menstrual hygiene and SRHR.  

The shame of my first period inspired me to break the silence on menstrual health management (MHM) in the nomadic pastoralists communities.  

Daring to dream has always been my slogan. Despite coming from a reserved community, I dared to dream and went against all odds to participate in a modelling competition. With confidence and determination, I won two national titles of Miss Tourism Kenya Peace and Investment 2013/2014. Using the titles as a stepping stone, I was able to make my voice heard in my county and beyond. My dreams of giving back to the community came true when I officially registered my community based organization called Qabale Duba Foundation (QDF).

Among other programs, the PAPA (Pads and Panties) project really strengthened our menstrual health management advocacy. Since its inception in 2014, PAPA Project has kept more than 3000 girls in different rural village schools in Marsabit County, Kenya. We are currently making reusable period panties with inbuilt pads in Marsabit, to keep more girls in schools and reduce number of girls dropping out of schools due to lack of sanitary pads.

Working on SRHR has opened so many doors for me. My work gives me the enthusiasm to do more to impact the lives of the girls and women in the communities.

The results of my successful advocacy work include: Mandela Washington Fellowship (YALI), Akili Dada Fellowship, Non-profit Coach Global Leaders Fellowship, McKinsey and Company Next Generation Women Award winner 2017, Pollination Project grantee, Amref Health Africa’s Y-ACT youth advocate and many others.  

I also received a letter from former President of the United State of America Barack Obama as a recognition of what I am doing in my community.

“Self confidence  is the best outfit, rock it and own it”

You can read more about my background here.

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