#YOUTHPOWERHACKS: Esmael from Kenya

My name is Esmael, and I live in Kenya.

I am a young male champion for gender equality.

I come from a big family, where almost all female members have undergone Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).

I have witnessed first-hand the effects of FGM, drawing from experiences of important girls and women in my life.

Painful menstrual cycles, difficulty in giving birth, and psychological trauma are just a few of the many health effects of FGM.

I envision a world where girls and women can exercise their power and rights, have expanded choice, and can be free from all forms of violence – including FGM.

This is why I’m taking part in the Youth Power Hacks.

According to the 2014 Kenya Demographic Health Survey, 21% of girls and women between the ages of 15 and 24 have undergone FGM. This is a fundamental violation of the rights of girls, and we need to make progress.

While Kenya now has laws to protect girls from FGM, there is still a long way to go – as this harmful practice is typically deeply entrenched in social norms, especially in communities that are marginalised and hard-to-reach.

FGM is a form of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) and is caused by unequal power relations between men and women, normalisation of SGBV practices, and changing gender roles. In addition, poverty and illiteracy, breakdown of the family unit and support systems, and insecurity, conflict and political instability are all contributing factors.

It is because of these challenges that my team from the Kenya Hack has chosen to design a project to address SGBV and harmful practices in selected regions of East Africa. In addition to those from Kenya, my team is composed of participants from Tanzania and Uganda.

Our idea puts the ‘girl’ at the focus of our work, so everything starts with her. We believe that when you activate the agency of a girl, amplify her voice and empower her to make decisions about her body and life – she will eventually achieve her dreams and maximise her potential. Our project will work to ensure that girls and women are empowered to exercise and express their rights by transforming social and gender norms in communities, so that SGBV and harmful practices can be eliminated.

Women and girls are not only the hardest hit by this pandemic, they are also the backbone of recovery in communities. Putting women and girls at the centre of economies will fundamentally drive better and more sustainable development outcomes for all, support a more rapid bounce back, and place the world back on a footing to achieve the SDGs. The COVID-19 pandemic provides an opportunity for radical, positive action to redress long-standing inequalities in multiple areas of women’s lives, and build a more just and resilient world.

Over the past few months, the Youth Power Panel has been working with Restless Development, Project Everyone, and Unilever to deliver the Youth Power Hacks: six online hackathons held in six countries, bringing together hundreds of young people to hack solutions to help get the Global Goals delivered.


Learn more about the #YOUTHPOWERHACKS here.

Contribute to Voices for Change – a project bringing together the voices and passions of people across the world in support of the Global Goals.

Find out how you can take action on issues that you care about by visiting Unilever’s Take Action Hub.

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#YOUTHPOWERHACKS: Esmael from Kenya

by wearerestless Reading time: 2 min