International Day of the Girl Child: A Conversation with Kakenya Ntaiya and Sarah Craven

Wednesday, October 17, 2018
Sarah Craven

Director, UN Population Fund, Washington, DC Office

Kakenya Ntaiya

Founder and President, Kakenya's Dream

Rachel B. Vogelstein

Douglas Dillon Senior Fellow and Director of the Women and Foreign Policy Program, Council on Foreign Relations

Girls’ education is one of the most effective development investments. Yet 130 million girls remain out of school, and each year, twelve million girls are married before their eighteenth birthday. To commemorate the International Day of the Girl Child, Dr. Kakenya Ntaiya and Sarah Craven discuss new models to further girls’ empowerment and education and advance U.S. foreign policy objectives, such as global health, prosperity, and stability.


VOGELSTEIN: Good afternoon, everyone. Good afternoon, everyone. Good afternoon. Welcome to the Council on Foreign Relations. My name is Rachel Vogelstein. I lead the Women and Foreign Policy Program here at CFR, which analyzes how elevating the status of women and girls advances U.S. foreign policy objectives.

Today we will explore an issue in honor and recognition of the International Day of the Girl that is really at the center of the strategic case for the advancement of women and girls, and that is education. As you know, improvement in girls’ education globally at the primary level is one of the major development achievements of the past two decades.

But despite this progress, persistent gaps in girls’ education remain, particularly at the secondary level. You all know the statistics well: thirty-four million girls remain out of secondary school, with significant gender gaps in sub-Saharan Africa and in South Asia. The gender gap at the secondary level leaves girls at risk of practices like child marriage, early pregnancy. And in addition, at a time when secondary education really serves as the passport, in many respects, to formal-sector employment, this education gap also limits broader economic growth and potential. We know many of the reasons for the gender gap in education at the secondary level: son preference, harmful traditional practices like female genital mutilation and child marriage, threats of violence, and social and cultural norms that confine opportunities for women and girls.

Today we are here to talk about not simply why these barriers exist, but rather how to surmount these obstacles. What are the most effective ways to get and to keep adolescent girls in school? How can leaders on the ground break through the social norms that constrain girls’ schooling? How can we ensure that girls who are educated at the secondary level are able to transition successfully to higher education or to the workplace? And how can we bring innovative models to scale?

Perhaps no one is better-equipped to answer these questions than our experts today.

First, we are very pleased to welcome Kakenya Ntaiya, a pioneering Kenyan leader who has dedicated her life to this cause. She is the founder and president of the Kakenya Center for Excellence, which uses education to empower and motivate young girls to become agents of change in their families, communities, and nations. Previously, she was the first youth advisor to the United Nations Population Fund, through which she traveled the world as an advocate for girls’ education. She has been widely recognized for her work and has been the subject of a BBC documentary that I commend to all of you. And, Kakenya, thank you for joining us. We’re fortunate to host you today.

NTAIYA: Thank you.

VOGELSTEIN: Second, we are delighted to be joined by Sarah Craven, who is a leading official at the United Nations Population Fund as the director of its Washington office. She previously held positions at the State Department and in the Senate, particularly for Senator Tim Wirth, and was a policy advisor to the Center for Development and Population Activities during the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo and the 1995 Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing. Welcome back to the Council, Sarah.

So, Kakenya, I’d like to start with you. You’ve spoken in the past about your personal story and the challenges you faced as a young child. You were engaged at the age of five, underwent FGM in preparation for marriage, and yet you managed to negotiate a return to school and do what no other girl in your community had ever done, which was to leave your village to obtain higher education abroad. How did you accomplish this? And, importantly, what advice do you give to the young girls with similar dreams who face similar challenges in your community today?

NTAIYA: Thank you so much, Rachel, for hosting us here, and everyone for coming. It’s nice to see good—lots of good friends and all friends. And I’m really honored to be here with my mentor and good friend, Sarah Craven, my very first boss. (Laughter.) We’ve come a long way. We’ll talk about the BBC. (Laughs.) We were on that journey together. So I’m very thankful for this opportunity to be here.

I think, you know, I don’t want to go into my story, and I know everybody here knows about Kakenya, who negotiated with the father to get—you know, to go through FGM and go to school. What I want to say, that I think one thing that I’m reminded as I work with girls on a daily—on a daily day is that there are girls throughout the world who every single day being courageous, looking for an alternative to the life that has already been set for them.

I talk about my girl Faith, who heard about our work and she’s been hearing about our schools and all we’ve done. And when the day for enrollment came—we do this enrollment once a year and, like, every girl wants to be there. And one of the requirements we have is that a girl comes with a family member. So Faith went to her dad and told her that, dad, can you take me to enroll at Kakenya Center? The dad said no. She went to the mother and the mother said she had to go do something else. And she didn’t give up. What she did is she went inside the house, took an egg, and walked to the market, sold the egg, bought a pencil, and came to school. She wanted to enroll in my school.

So it reminds me that even though I negotiated, I fought, there are girls on a daily—day in, day out who want a different life, who don’t want to be married when they’re children, who want to see a different life. And for Faith, what she was running from is her father was very abusive. He just drinks a lot and he has, you know, three wives, and her mother was the youngest. She’s seen her sisters getting married. She was running away from that life. I was running from the life, that of my mother. My mother was abused by my dad. You know, the life that, when you see something different, you want to look for that.

So I want to say that there are so many girls out there that need a helping hand, and we’ve been fortunate as Kakenya’s Dream where we have really worked on these girls. We’ve created a safe space for them to be able to walk in, to be able to say I want to go and enroll, I am going to take my chance and I’m going to walk without a father, without a mother. I’m just going to go to school. And that is—I think that’s, like, it’s not my story is not just one story; it’s the story of many, many, many more girls, and those who are not in school, those who are being mutilated, you know, each year. And what I have learned is that—as people who work in this field is that we need to create many, many more spaces, many more places for girls to come in to be empowered.

What I tell girls and I tell anybody is that every child in the world has a dream, and it’s our—it’s us to create those dreams to become a reality. And go for it. I mean, if you want something, you go for it. Be Faith. You know, get up and go. And I think that’s the biggest thing, that anybody in the world should just go for what they want.

VOGELSTEIN: So let’s talk more about the steps you’ve taken to help those dreams become reality: the Kakenya Center for Excellence, which started over a decade ago in a shack under a tree, and now today has a full campus with art and science facilities, and safe dormitories, and a library. And importantly, a hundred percent of your graduates stayed in school throughout, and then went on to higher education. So talk to us a little bit about the model. How did you achieve those remarkable results?

NTAIYA: The good thing about—we’ve really grown with our girls. (Laughs.) I think, you know, for me, it was—I was a student at the University of Pittsburgh, working on my Ph.D., and you know, I had women who, you know, wanted to help me—you know, I kept saying I want to build this school—and really came together to support me to start that dream. And so I had gone home for—actually, for the holiday, over December, and when I went there one of the girls got married and I couldn’t help her. What happens is that when you get married, the next day of course is the honeymoon. And this girl, you know, she wasn’t ready. She was twelve. She also had gotten married to a young man. And I could see pain. I could see—there was no place for her to run to. And worse was that, you know, the elders had to come to help the man help, you know, perform whatever he wanted to do, and they had to use a horn to—you know, to open up the girl, a cow horn. And this girl stayed crying, and everybody in the village knew what had happened to her. And I was helpless.

So I come to Pittsburgh, and you can’t go to class and, like, not think about that girl; and you can’t just get up every day and forget, that she doesn’t exist. At that time in my community, when you are in the rural—I mean, rural communities need our help. We talk about NGOs. We talk about work that people have done. But no one wants to go to the place that the road ends. There were no rescue centers. There were—you know, the government is there, but they don’t—like, there’s no place to take her. So I couldn’t even take her to a rescue home.

So I went home and I said—you know, I tell Sarah and the team—(laughs)—we’re going to start a school. And, you know, my head is just like—I just wanted to grab those girls and I just wanted to put them in a little place. And I just said, you know, I just want ten girls. I just—I just want to help ten girls. And at that time, you know, I had been talking about it, but getting there in a hundred girls—(inaudible)—enrollment, and I wasn’t ready for that. I mean, I was like, oh—(laughter)—I guess—because I had to, like—I needed to go through a criteria. I needed to find the most needy or find the extremely needy. I mean, I grew up in a community where everybody’s needy, but there’s those other level of neediness. So I thought that, you know, I had a panel of people to do all these things, and every single story that day I wanted to take every of those girls in.

So we started with thirty girls, and it was—for me, what has—like, I’ve really grown with the girls. At first we didn’t have a boarding school, so we just took them, put them in a landing place, and then you realize that the walk from school to home was a long distance. The girls were having tea in the morning. They come to school. A cup of tea, and then you walk three, four, five miles. By the time it’s 10:00, the girls are sleepy. You’re thinking, what’s going on? Apparently, they needed food. And, you know, I learned that, oh, food is important. (Laughter.) So before we even thought about a boarding facility, we started with food, feeding them. And all of a sudden you see transformation like their hair color, their faces, their—you know, food. They needed food.

And from there, we knew that, of course, the studies—numerous studies talk about how girls, when they are home, they are cleaning, they are cooking, they are doing everything else other than to read. And furthermore, there is no lights at night because it’s rural communities, so at night: dark, go to sleep. You wake up, morning, you start (fire ?). So there is always work for girls. So the next thing we did was to have a boarding school. And literally, when you say under the shade of tree, that’s where the teachers were sitting down marking the exams.

From there we went to uniform and the pride that comes to that, a bed. I mean, I had a room like this full of sixty girls—(laughs)—and people were like, why are you—you know, people would come and visit and they’re like, they’re so crowded. I’m like, no, they’re dying to be here. I mean, they are happy to be there.

And from that I will tell you that every single girl that has gone through our school, I mean, our greatest happiness now is to see the first ones in college, walking the step that I walked, some going to Australia. And it’s just like, oh my gosh, we are finally getting there.

But we’ve learned over time it’s not just the school. You need to bring the parents along. Fathers who never thought that girls need to be good in school, we had to use a pretense of saying come look at the grade to start look—developing a relationship between the father and their daughter because it didn’t exist. We worked from that and empowered the teachers. We’ve gone out to the community now. We work with about ninety schools, working with the boys, bringing the boys into the picture. It’s really been, for us, a growing learning with our girls.

And there is no—I mean, I love—when we create programs, I think we normally create this thing up there with like a classroom, but it’s not really just a classroom. It’s every single part of the society is part of a girl’s life. It’s the mothers. It’s the fathers. It’s the brothers. It’s everybody. She needs—you need to empower the whole community to be able to empower the girl, and that’s what we’ve learned. That’s why we see our girls continuing with school, because everybody is part of that equation.

VOGELSTEIN: So a holistic, community-based, community-driven model.

NTAIYA: Exactly. Yes. Yes.

VOGELSTEIN: I want to talk about one of the challenges that you mentioned, which is scale. You know, I remember we were talking last year and you told me that the Center had forty spots available and over two hundred and fifty girls applied, which must be heartbreaking to have to turn away so many. So my question is, what will it take to actually address the need that you see in that one community? Or scale up to the whole country: What do you need to scale a program like the one that you’ve created? And if you got the resources that you need, what are the challenges that you would face, do you think, in bringing your program to scale?

NTAIYA: So what I have learned over time is you need to be patient. It’s a constant reminder every day that, you know, educating a girl—and I say it all year—it’s not about being in a classroom; it’s about empowering the whole community and it’s about everybody being part of that. And what we would love to see now, and we are just in the process of an organization where we are looking at what has made us most successful. How can—how can we share that with the world? And we are in the process of asking ourselves, one, is the model actually a government partnership, where the school is registered as a government school, we are the sponsors? And what that creates is that we have an opportunity to work with other schools, we have an opportunity to work with other teachers, we have an opportunity to impact other local schools. So that’s one of our really greatest things.

The other thing that we’ve learned over time is that our girls are going to high school, but their high school education is not preparing them for the next—for the—for the world that we are in now. We are no longer about just teaching to pass exams. It’s about what skills are you coming out of—I mean, we had our girls finish high school last year, and I was shocked. I mean, you don’t think about this, but none of them had had computers. So, in reality’s sense, they had to apply for college using a computer and they have never had a computer. And I’m sitting there like, so, in high school, we should be giving the girls access to computers. We should be able to learn this skill. So I’ve learned about that.

And then the other thing about career development—and, you know, we talk about in a rural setting where the only thing that a girl knows is her teacher and us, and that’s still limited. So one thing I came to realize: if you ask the girls in my school, each one of them wants to be a doctor. So I finally figured out, why did they want to be a doctor? (Laughter.) Apparently because I’m called Dr. Kakenya. (Laughter.) So—(laughs)—

VOGELSTEIN: That is wonderful.

NTAIYA: So the whole time I’m thinking they want to be—you know, they think I’m actually a doctor because they have never seen—I mean, I’m the first woman in the whole community to have a Ph.D., and they’re like—their minds doesn’t even—so you have to really bring in that kind of setting, like, you know, creating those spaces.

So I think for us, one is really we want to be the—(inaudible). We want to be the Center of Excellence where people come and learn from us.

We are building a second school now. We are really thinking about being sustainable. Working in a rural community, we are talking about waste management, something that we wouldn’t think about in the city. We are talking about using local resource(s), because for us to build our first school we had to get everything from outside into the village. Now we are thinking about how do we make our own bricks, how do we, you know—you know, we talk about the solar system. How do we tap into the solar system within our own community? How do we become sustainable in terms of farming the right—like, we don’t need to buy food; we can make our own food. So we are really looking at that, solving that problem, because I think the biggest thing that’s scarce, people who are well-wishers and who wants to make a difference in the world, is when that road ends where do I get water? Water is very—it’s life. So when you know that you’re not going to have a shower, you’re like, really? (Laughter.) You start thinking about those things.

So we want to show the world and we want to show that if you invest in girls in rural communities they are at the center of everything. So you are investing on that girl. That girl is invested in her family. She touches—it’s a ripple effect, and it really starts with the girl. So that’s what we are trying to do. We want to create a model that people can just jump into the most difficult places to make a difference, because if we leave those girls—I mean, in Africa, eighty percent of the populations are in rural places. So how can we get to them if we don’t jump into that line? So, yeah, so that’s what we are trying to create.

And it’s not—it’s not necessarily—and I’m looking for—this is where, you know, I’m looking not just for financial support, but I’m looking for people who want to think beyond just, you know, skills, you know. Everybody has skills. And I think—I look at it like my team and, I mean, from interns that we’ve had who are amazing people who want to make a difference, I look at this as a lab. What can you bring in to create something that we can share with the world? So that’s what we are—we are doing.

VOGELSTEIN: So let’s move now from the local, from this rural community in Kenya, to the global. And, Sarah, I’d love to ask you to talk about the State of the World Population Report. We actually have the most recent report, which is hot off the presses, for 2018, but I’d actually like to start by asking you about the one that came out before, in 2016, that focused on the ten-year-old girl and stated that the world’s future will be determined by the fate of its ten-year-old girls. Tell us, from a development perspective and from a global perspective, why it’s so important to focus on girls, and specifically how this focus manifests programmatically at UNFPA.

CRAVEN: Is it on?

VOGELSTEIN: It’s on. (Laughs.)

CRAVEN: That’s a huge—that’s a huge question, Rachel. I’ll do my best.

First, I just want to start by just letting people know that I’m here wearing several hats. So I am assuming three hats that I want people to be aware. I work for UNFPA, the U.N. Population Fund, so in that role I’m here as an advocate. I’m also on the board of Kakenya’s Dream, which is another hat I’m wearing. But I think the most important hat that I’m wearing is I am one of the backup singers to this rock star. (Laughter.) There are many people in this room who could be sitting in my chair as one of those rock star backup singers. So I have the honor of being here today, but when we open it up to dialogue I feel really humbled by everyone here who’s been part of this journey.

So, with that in mind, I’m also happy to talk about UNFPA’s report from two years ago, which was on the—which was on the ten-year-old girl. And from my perspective and from UNFPA’s perspective, the most important person in the world was the ten-year-old girl. And for those of you who can go back and remember when you were a ten-year-old girl, or when you were a ten-year-old boy and knew ten-year-old girls, it’s a time in your life where the world is still full of possibility. You are in school. The world is your vision. You are dreaming of becoming a doctor or a lawyer or a teacher or whatever role it is.

But for many girls in the developing world, that world can suddenly change dramatically when they’re twelve and they hit puberty; and suddenly those options, those opportunities, the choices they had suddenly become much more diminished. And in the case of Kakenya, you know, she had to make this dramatic choice of undergoing female genital mutilation, this cultural practice that was preparing her for being a mother and for being a wife, and for no longer having those options. So girls no longer are able to stay in school. They are put into situations where they are being married before they’re physically ready, emotionally ready to be in that situation. They’re taken out of school. And that impacts, of course, the life of that girl. It also impacts the family, the immediate family, and it impacts the larger community, and then the nation. So it’s that ripple effect.

And so at UNFPA we really want to drill down and focus on that ten-year-old girl. What investments can we make to ensure that that ten-year-old girl can grow up to be Kakenya, to have that opportunity that she can stay in school, that she can decide who she wants to marry, she can make that decision on what she wants to do, when she wants to have children, how many children she wants to have.

And that involves a very large enabling environment. So it involves situations like having a school like Kakenya’s where she can go to school and be there safely and get herself there. It also means an enabling environment, a legal environment which is supportive of her rights and her ability to be in school and to be able to maximize her health and potential.

And it means having someone believe in her. So Kakenya believes in all of those girls in her community and has become a real advocate for them.

So if you go on our website today, we do have a new report—(laughs)—that builds on that. But what I really would say, unfortunately, it doesn’t have any of Kakenya’s girls, but we have a very beautiful visual on today that’s looking at the girls that we focused on two years ago and where they are now. And, happily, many of those girls are—they represent a global picture. Many of them are still on a very good chart moving forward.

Next year is going to be the fiftieth anniversary of my organization, the U.N. Population Fund. And what we’re going to focus on next year—and unfortunately, I’m happy to say, I do not qualify—but it will be looking at sixty-year-old women and ask, looking back from when they were a ten-year-old girl, how has the world evolved in those fifty years, and then looking at a new cohort of ten-year-old girls and what their vision is for the next fifty years. So I’m hoping one of your girls, Kakenya, and maybe one of your sixty-year-old mamas back in the village, can be profiled in that.

NTAIYA: Yeah, that would be good.

VOGELSTEIN: Sarah, you’ve talked about the support UNFPA gave to Kakenya in developing her leadership role in her community, and now of course there’s this whole new generation of Kakenyas that has resulted. And clearly, Kakenya’s leadership made the difference there. What other programs that UNFPA has supported have been successful? And what are the elements of that success? And what would you like to see the United Nations do—not just your agency, but across the organization—to better support the programs, the best practices that you see working well?

CRAVEN: Well, first of all, Kakenya is our—you know, one of our shining stars.

I’ll tell you, the way I first met Kakenya was we were doing a panel on child marriage, and Kakenya had just been featured in The Washington Post. And so my colleague gave me the job that I had to take her out to dinner to vet her, to make sure she wouldn’t embarrass the U.N. (Laughter.) And so I met her and I thought, oh, I think—I think she’s going to do a pretty good job. (Laughter.) So the next day she spoke with our at the time executive director, Thoraya Obaid, and Thoraya’s story had been similar to Kakenya’s. Thoraya was from Saudi Arabia, and she was the first Saudi woman to come to the United States on a government scholarship. And I had told Thoraya—I said, oh, you’re going to really like Kakenya; she’s just like you. And Thoraya was like, what do you mean she’s just like me? And then, after Kakenya spoke, Thoraya got up and she said, this girl is just like me. (Laughter.) And so, after that, Thoraya said—I said, well, you know, she needs a job. And Thoraya said, well, we’re going to hire her.

And I will give UNFPA great credit for that. We give more than lip service to engaging young voices in our work. Kakenya was a youth fellow, where she worked at headquarters. She was a little bit unique in that she came to us through Washington, D.C., but usually we identify young professionals in their home countries. They’ll work in the country office and then come and do a stint at headquarters. Our colors at UNFPA are orange, and so we have what we call the Tangerines, which are our younger staff. So whenever we have any kind of global meeting or programmatic work, we actually have our younger members of our team as full participants in terms of they’re not just the ones setting up the nametags, but they’re there leading with their ideas and leading.

And so I see for the whole U.N. system I think we have done some good work, but we need to do a lot more in terms of engaging young people’s participation—that it’s not just, oh, the youth are having their own separate meeting, and here’s their list of wishes or demands; instead, that they are part of that dialogue and conversation, and that youth perspective is as valid and as important. Because right now we are entering a moment in the world where we have the largest cohort of young people in the world. We have over a billion young people entering their reproductive years. And so not just the U.N., but member states all have to be focusing on ensuring that young people’s potential is fulfilled.

VOGELSTEIN: You talked a little bit about the importance of an enabling environment for girls, and I wanted to ask about the environment for UNFPA. It’s now been a year since your current executive director assumed her role as the head of the agency. Can you talk to us briefly about what some of her main priorities are and some of the biggest challenges that you face?

CRAVEN: Sure. Well, I’m hoping you all can get to meet her if you haven’t already. Her name is Dr. Natalia Kanem. She has been at UNFPA just about a year. She’s has very interesting story herself. She is a(n) Afro-Caribbean from Panama, and came to the United States when she was a young girl. I think she didn’t have the same family support structure that would support her, but she got here. She ended up graduating from Harvard and getting her medical degree from Columbia, and spent most of her career in sub-Saharan Africa working on these issues. So we’re really delighted to have her leadership.

Under her leadership we have a new strategic plan at UNFPA. So our goal is to go out of business, and our goal is to get to what we call the three zeroes. So that is by—under the Sustainable Development Agenda, we’re focusing on three pieces: one is zero unmet need for contraception or family planning; zero preventable maternal deaths; and zero tolerance for gender-based violence, with a particular focus on harmful practices such as female genital mutilation and child marriage. So we have a very ambitious agenda.

Today’s report, if you go on our website and find it, is like a kickoff to next year, where we’re really focusing on these three big goals and focusing on next year, where we have the twenty-fifth anniversary of the conference that happened in Cairo, Egypt, which has created this blueprint of action for us.

And I just want to say Anju Malhotra—butchering your name, Anju—my colleague from UNICEF, is here, who has been a key partner to UNFPA, where together we do work on ending child marriage and ending female genital mutilation. So a lot of that joint work has been very critical to the issues that Kakenya works on every day.

VOGELSTEIN: Well, we have a lot of experts around the table, so I’d love to open the discussion now to questions. Please raise your placard and state your name and affiliation, and we’ll get to as many as we can. Why don’t we start over here, and then over to Anju?

Q: Hi. I’m Tami Hultman from AllAfrica.

Kakenya, on your website you have a conversation between two interns, Canadian from—students from—college students, I guess, from British Columbia, and it’s about their time there. And in contrast to so many organizations which have international volunteers who come to teach, to help, the whole tone of their conversation is that they were there to learn, and how much they learned from you and the girls and the school and the way things were done, almost as thought they really were interns there to absorb expertise and come back to Canada and share it. How do you—how do you get interns like that? Do you—do you say to people you’re not coming here to tell us what to do—(laughs)—you’re coming here to be part of us as we move forward and to learn?

NTAIYA: I think my organization has always worked with young people from our beginning chalet. (Laughs.) And I don’t necessarily go out there and say we need intern. I think what we have been very successful is we’ve been able to find people who want to go, who want to help. And I think that curiosity is something that so many young people are now learning in college, and that—just curiosity of a heart that wants to help and wants to learn. And I’ve been very fortunate for George and Rachel, who spent three months. That’s the other thing: you cannot just come for one month—(laughs)—you have to come for at least three months and above. I think the first month is like, where am I? And then the second year is really about learning about the place. And by the time you’re leaving, you really feel that you know the place, you know the people. The interns stay with families, so you are embedded within the family. You have to do what the family does, and it’s really about the living experience.

And I think the thing I’ve learned is that to truly change the world we have to listen to the young people. And I think Sarah shared about the work that UNFPA does bringing young people from developing world, from—in their rural villages to giving them an experience to learn how to shape the world. I look at young people as these are the—this is the future. And when I see how my country—my country is, the issues of corruption we are fighting, the issues of, you know, gender-based violence, all the things that you look and see that is not good in the world, if we can work with young people—both my girls, the boys that we work with—and connecting them generally, they are going to be creating laws. They are going to be implementing. This is the future.

So we—they have to be part of that, solving that problem. And I think for young people from the—you know, from the developed world or from the place that they have never entered into that, what it means to be in a poor place, what does it mean to go through FTM, to live in a community that practices that it changes who you become in the future.

Q: And would you take interns from other parts of Africa?

NTAIYA: Yes. We have interns even within Kenya. Yeah, it’s—we don’t have a boundary saying that this is the only people. (Laughs.) We work with young people across the world because I think that is—that’s the way to go. You can’t just say this, this, so you have to put them all together, create relationships that will change the world.

VOGELSTEIN: A lot of possibilities there.

Anju, please.

Q: Thank you very much, Sarah, for the collaboration message. And certainly, I think that the U.N. is for the first time in a space where the generation that we are facing currently is both a promise and a challenge that we have to really realize. So at UNGA this time Generation Unlimited was launched, and UNICEF’s new executive director is also very much with Natalia in moving that agenda forward.

My comment and question is a little bit convoluted and is for Kakenya, but I hope you’ll have patience to sort of appreciate what I’m trying to ask her. You know, over the last six years while I have been at the U.N., part of the reason I went to the U.N. is because I wanted the girl agenda to go to scale. And so the issue of scale has been the one that has been absorbing me the most, and we are working on a large—a global child marriage program, a large FGM program, but also at UNICEF I’m working on girls’ education programs, nutrition programs, water and sanitation programs, and I’m very much active in the gender and adolescent community. And it makes me wonder when I look at people like you—and I think you’re absolutely right in saying there are so many shining lights like you. There are so many courageous girls and women who have taken action, and either must managed to save their own lives but also become models for so many others, and taken courageous steps. Malala comes to mind and you come to mind. And when I talk to Malala, she says there are so many Malalas out there that we don’t talk to.

And I think the question is, are we putting too much of a burden on you by putting all our ducks or all our whatevers, investment options, in you? Because the issue is not just for you to shine, but for you guys to become a Milky Way. That’s really, really powerful. And what are we doing? Where is it that we’re building the infrastructure to make sure that there is a road and there is no end to the road, right? Where are we building the capacity for those schools to actually have the teachers? I mean, it’s one of the most interesting things I recently have been doing with our education colleagues when I—when they say, yeah, of course we are working for girls’ education, what else do you want us to do?

I’m saying, well, let’s do a pipeline analysis. First of all, it’s not just convincing. It’s not just norm change. We can change the norms. We can—most parents actually really do want their girls to go to school. (Laughs.) But there aren’t schools. There isn’t a road. There isn’t transportation. There isn’t safety once they’re there. There isn’t food to eat to make them, as you say. So even when we will build toilets and school(s), they are not—there’s water—(laughs)—for them to function, nobody’s taking care of them. How do we build infrastructure that actually really supports girls and is maintained? Where is the capacity we’re building so that those schools actually have teachers who teach, and teach the skills that you’re talking about? So it’s not just an issue of giving computers, but having people who can teach the girls—(laughs)—how to use the computers and not lock them up in a cabinet because they’re so precious, right?

So I guess my question to you really is, what do you ask of us, those of us who are not just giving small amounts to NGOs but are part of government and multilateral systems that are spending billions of dollars? Where should they be going?

NTAIYA: Thank you so much, Anju, for your wonderful explanations and your continual work. I thank UNICEF and UNFPA. I mean, they are everything in Kenya, and we really appreciate the work that you are doing to support the girls.

I think you really hit the nail on the head—(laughs)—as they say, because I think for a very long time, you know, we come with these policies—free primary education—and it’s really good. But what we realize, yes, girls are going to school, but there is no teacher, there is no toilets, there’s no—like, there are all those things that are not there. And I think us and Sarah and my couple of teammates here and my—we are really trying to show the world what does it really mean to empower a girl? What do you really need? So somebody will say uniforms. Somebody will say toilets. Somebody will say a classroom. Somebody will—I mean, there is school fees. And you realize you are paying school fees, the girl is going to school, and in that school she’s being abused. So you really have to look at a holistic—a holistic model, a holistic approach. And that’s what we’ve learned.

The reason why we are building a second school is because we want to build a high school, because for a long time we are sending our girls to different places and we realize we are lacking. The school system is not ready to empower that girl, so we are losing. So how do we—how do we create that thing when—Anju asked: What do I need to empower a girl? I will hand you something that says, you know, you need a good teacher because teachers—it’s not just about the teachers who come to the classroom. Are they passionate? Are they willing to educate a girl? Or are they there to abuse the girl? So you need to sensitize that. You need to be able to say, a boarding school, yeah, why are we doing a boarding school? Because we know that when the girls are home—but then they go home. So in their homes, are they being used as workers? Are they—are they being children?

So these are really—it’s a complicated issue. It’s challenging. But I think the biggest thing that you would need to do is I think the approach need to change to just—it’s great to invest in governments, but I think the funds that you put into those local NGOs, those local people who are doing the things in the most extreme, the funds that you put there are more—there is more to show than what you are—you know, you do with especially our government, which is just another talk for a different day.

But I think—I think your question is that you need a lot of Malalas, and they are there. It’s about identifying them, creating the space for them to thrive, linking them so that they know that somebody else is doing something somewhere else, and really creating that road that you already started. There is no end. It means that we are coming. And trust me, the young people who are coming from behind, they’re just going to push us all out and they’re going to change the world. And that’s what we need to do.

When I look at my girls, I mean, they are passionate. They are passionate. They are saying no. They are saying no to FGM. They are saying—I mean, it’s—for the very first time my community has these girls who are going to college who have never been cut. And I’m like, uh.

And then, like, this is a wave because the biggest thing we’ve done for—especially for our girls, it’s a network. They know that I cannot do alone; I need you as a team.

And I think you just—you answered your own question, actually. You just said what you needed to do. And I think we need all of us to start changing our minds, changing the way we do things, and just let—empower the young people. Let them run the world.

VOGELSTEIN: Sarah, anything you want to add on this question of supporting individual leaders versus building infrastructure to create that enabling environment you were talking about earlier?

NTAIYA: Oh, you need all of them, though. You can’t just choose one and leave the other.

VOGELSTEIN: So both and.


CRAVEN: I have—we should, like, sit for hours because there’s so much—(laughter)—to unpack in what you just talked about. I mean, one thing I want to say, that I just really want to emphasize was so amazing when I’m wearing my hat as Kakenya friend/board member, is, imagine, she was the first girl in her community to go to college, right? And now how many girls did you just send off to college?

NTAIYA: Twenty-four.

CRAVEN: Twenty-four, right? So that’s in ten years we’ve had a big change right there. It’s sort of amazing.

This past spring four girls came for the model U.N., and they came with their teachers. And what was amazing about this was their teachers had never left the village or the community. So first they all had to get to Nairobi, and then they all had to get here. And then guess what happened? It snowed. (Laughter.) And so there was this quick, like, oh my gosh, everyone give you mittens and your gloves and your jackets. And so these four—it’s a little bit an anecdote, and then I’m going to get back to maybe knowing how to answer Anju’s question.

But the—we met with these young women. They were the four years that don’t want to be doctors. Three wanted to be pilots and one wanted to be an accountant, I think, to add up all the money that the pilots were going to make. (Laughter.) But when we asked these girls what was the thing that, like, struck them the most about—one said snow. I’m trying to remember what the—one said snow. One said Times Square. I forgot what the third one said. And the fourth one said the Martin Luther King Memorial, because of what your country has done for civil rights. How old is that girl, ten?

NTAIYA: She’s thirteen.

CRAVEN: Thirteen. Can you imagine? I mean it was unbelievable.

So I just want to say if the U.N. could somehow figure out how to get more funding into the hands of the Malalas and the Kakenyas—and Linette (sp), who just went off to university in Australia, who was educated in Kakenya’s school—I think some of this ripple effect could happen.

I think for me, listening not as the U.N. but listening to Kakenya as her friend, she sometimes tells me the most harrowing things that are going on that we talk about at this level, and then she talks about the reality. For example, if I’m telling this story right, in Kenya, FGM is illegal.

NTAIYA: Yeah, mmm hmm.

CRAVEN: Is illegal. And so some—it was cutting season and some girls were being cut, and so they came through and they arrested all of the perpetrators, which included these girls’ parents. So then Kakenya had the situation of girls who were bleeding, who were injured, who didn’t have any of the—and these weren’t students at your school, but who didn’t have any of the support structure and parents who were there to help take care of them. So we don’t think about all that, right? Like, we just think, like, oh, we did a great thing because—

NTAIYA: We stopped them. (Laughs.)

CRAVEN: We stopped this—

NTAIYA: The law is there.

CRAVEN: The law is there. So these are the things that I think that Kakenya can help us in our lofty seats realize how important it is. It’s important that we outlaw FGM, but we also have to know what that means in terms of the reality on the ground.

So I’m just mumbling in terms of response. It’s hard. But I think how we can create more Milky Ways is very important, and I think that is getting resources in the hands of local communities.

VOGELSTEIN: Of our leaders.

Let’s come over here to Daniela (sp) and then we’ll move to the other side.

Q: Thanks. So much to think about. Wow. So glad I’m here. Thanks for all you’re doing.

My question was a little bit related to what Anju was raising. And I guess it’s something we’ve been struggling with. You know, we’re a public-private partnership that works with UNFPA, UNICEF, et cetera, but really trying to change this kind of mindset of doing things in a multisectoral way at a national level. But every time I hear about these shining stars, what we like to call sometimes these boutique projects where you—where you see someone who, in a small community or in a district or in a—at a small scale has been able to do that, it really raises for me whether—I agree it’s an and/or. It’s a both, like, from national level—so kind of a top down and a bottom up. But I think there’s more to do at that bottom level.

And I’m wondering whether you have thoughts about, for example, is it just about finding a single NGO—because that’s what we tend to do—and then putting money there? Or are there opportunities to try to bring together at a district level, at a village level multiple actors—I know you don’t want to talk about government, but that’s an important piece, you know—(laughter)—and other players to perhaps start doing more at that local level to see what can change? And so I’m wondering whether you’ve had some experiences with that and whether it’s just kind of a lost cause in your case. But have you seen anything that’s been able to work in a multisectoral way at a smaller level that perhaps could teach us about where to make those investments?

NTAIYA: Daniela (sp), that’s what exactly we do. So we do work with the governments. Even, you know, I have this love/hate relationship with the government. (Laughs.)

I want to give you an example of a program that we run that’s called—we call it Health and Leadership because we are hiding too many things under the health, because we want to talk about FGM but we actually want to talk about teen pregnancy, we want to talk about rape, and we want to talk about, you know, hygiene, we want to talk about sanitary part. So we pack it all together so when you come we’re actually talking about health, but we talk to (many ?) about other things.

Within that program, the leadership component is really about raising their hand and overcoming some of the cultural things that are—a girl should not look at somebody’s eyes, so you should always look down. When you are walking on the road and there are boys, there are men, or there are people who are passing there right behind you, you step on the side and then they go. And what we are trying to teach the girls is that you matter. So when you are in class you raise your hand. You know, girls—and this is common, actually—women, we want to be right before we answer, we poke up the hand. So we have that.

But the most exciting part with that is we have a self-defense component. I think we talk about gender-based violence from, you know, women and when it comes to children, finding nine-year-olds, eight-year-olds, you know, who are being raped by relatives at their homes. That changes how you approach things, because it’s one thing to—and I’ve learned a lot. I mean, I used to just come and give information, and now you realize somebody writes a question and said this is happening to me at home; what do I do? So that changed our approach to where we actually bring the children’s office, which is part of the government’s body, into our meetings. We bring in the police, because we have this relationship, we don’t like police at all. So we want to create a relationship between the police, the gender desk, and the community so that the girls can know if something happen(s) to me, if I go to that police station, I know so-and-so. We bring in the doctors and the nurses, because the biggest challenge is that a girl would report a case; between the reporting and the time they go and do the doctor’s report, something happen(s). I mean, all the doctor needs to do is just write no penetration, the case is out. So between those two, there is corruption and all the things that happen between that.

So we realize that. We will bring information, but we need to bring in the whole team so that there’s a relationship between all those offices, all those stakeholders. The chief needs to be there. Like, when we are implementing our no-FGM policy, the chief is the one who is actually implementing it. He’s the one who is telling the parents you’re signing, your girl is not going to be cut. And it’s really—it’s a small scale, but if you think about, you know, the over three hundred girls that we have touched over the last few years, remember that their generation, none of them is going to be cut. That means their children will not be cut. And that’s really a ripple effect.

And I think we need to start changing our narrative about scale. When we think about scale, we just think about up there and, like, all the things, all of a sudden the country’s changing. But it’s really about the networks. It’s about my work. It’s about so many other young people. And there’s so many of us. I mean, so many amazing people that are coming up doing amazing things. It’s about: How do we amplify that as a whole? How do we share experiences? How do we—how do we create that network? And that’s really what you want to lift up. It’s that network of people, of organizations, of individuals across the world who are doing good. And that’s—really, truly, for me it’s the scale. It’s not about the whole community. I don’t know how, but it’s about those networks of people. That is scale to me.

VOGELSTEIN: Thank you.

Let’s come over here. Janet.

Q: Thank you so much. It’s really—in these dark times, it’s really wonderful to hear what you’re doing, and to hear what you’ve learned, and to hear your perspective on how to move forward.

And I’d love to draw you out a little bit about—with some advice for us in this moment in Washington and around the world, particularly in the areas of sexual and reproductive health, family planning. Sometimes this administration will say that people on the ground in the countries where we have programs don’t want family planning or they—you know, it’s culturally inappropriate for the U.S. to be pushing or even providing a range of methods on a voluntary basis because of all of these perceived barriers that people who tend to not be proponents of these services are advocating. So I guess what I’d love to hear from you is how would you frame the issue of sexual and reproductive health and rights for adolescent girls? And what’s your message to the U.S. government about how to move that forward?

VOGELSTEIN: Small question, Kakenya. Jump right in. (Laughter.)

NTAIYA: Oh my goodness. I think one thing—I am not even trying to address the U.S. government right now, but I think for people in this room my advice or my little knowledge is that, you know, for a very long time we keep saying, you know, we need to be culturally appropriate, we need to be—you know, we don’t need to step over—this is how they do it; we shouldn’t bring our ideas. I don’t know, what, and what, and what, and what. At the end of the day, you know, when somebody tells me, oh, it’s cultural, we just cut the girls, I mean, it’s mutilation. It shouldn’t happen, you know? It’s like giving them permission to keep doing that to girls. So we should never apologize for supporting human rights, never apologize for rescuing girls, never apologize for taking girls and making sure that they don’t go through FGM. That just culturally, religion, whatever you call it, stop. It’s wrong. I mean, we all know that. We shouldn’t try to make it look pretty.

I think I always say—you know, I put myself—and I have this weird because I live in I don’t know how many different worlds where I’ll go to the village and I would see a girl getting married, and somebody will tell me it’s culturally OK for a thirteen-year-old, fourteen-year-old to be married. And then you find her a few months/years later, she’s pregnant, she has another baby, and she has another baby, and she’s living in poverty. If you talk to that lady, she would tell you, where is family planning? (Laughs.) I need to space. I need—I need—I need—I need—I need—I need to be able to manage. Because food—at the end of the day, you can have children and they don’t have food. It comes to the basics of that.

So I think—and I’m rambling through too many things—but the bottom line is that never apologize for human rights abuse. Never apologize for it. Just don’t apologize. Just do what is right. Yeah.

VOGELSTEIN: Sarah, I don’t know if you have anything to add on the—

CRAVEN: A lot. (Laughter.)

VOGELSTEIN: —challenging moments that UNFPA faces with respect to the—

CRAVEN: I’m not going to talk about the U.S. government. (Laughter.)

VOGELSTEIN: —the current administration.

CRAVEN: I’m not going to—I’m not going to talk about the U.S. government. (Laughter.)

But I guess I think it’s just important whenever we can get real voices to policymakers. Kakenya certainly has gone and spoken up on the Hill in one of the most moving moments—well, I’ve had many moving moments with Kakenya, but it was when she testified in the U.S. Senate before Senator Marco Rubio and Senator Tim Kaine and really raised these issues and lifted them up. So I think there are U.S. policymakers who understand, and the more we can use those opportunities to talk about Kakenya’s story and what the reality on the ground is, I agree, we shouldn’t—what’s the word—we shouldn’t dilute the reality of what it is because it makes people feel uncomfortable. I’ve been in too many situations. I’ve had a Democratic female senator who shall go nameless who said she was not going to talk about menstruation or sanitary napkins because it made her feel uncomfortable, and I don’t think—that was a decade ago. I don’t think we would say that now. So I think we just have to be very honest and also talk about why investments in sexual and reproductive health have had great benefits and is something the U.S. should be proud of, which is something you do all—do so well and all of us around this room do so well.

VOGELSTEIN: Let’s come over here, please.

Q: Hi. Hi. My name’s Samantha (sp). I’m a second-year student studying international studies and global economics at American University, right, two minutes up north in D.C.

And you had discussed about wanting to push forward the model of community and relationship building and sustainable education within not only rural communities, but just all over the world. And my question for you was, what thoughts have you had or what ideas have you had for streamlining? Just because, at least coming from a college perspective and especially someone who’s participated in model United Nations, model G-20 summit initiatives, the one question or the one idea that has always been brought up here—and it’s almost the default that every student, whether it’s on the collegiate or high-school level—is social media campaigns. And that’s always been the default people go to, is use social media campaigns. Yet, there is obviously some areas that don’t have access to that. So my question is—for you is, what ideas have you thought about in order to push this model forward, especially within rural communities?

NTAIYA: Hi, Samantha (sp). I think, yeah, I did international relations—(laughter)—and I tried economics. I left halfway. (Laughter.) I did model U.N., so you are—you’re just ready to go. (Laughs.)

I think, you know—I think we shouldn’t underestimate social media. I mean, Facebook is everywhere. (Laughs.) It’s amazing. When I came to the U.S. to go to college, I couldn’t call my home. It took me six months to get a letter there. And now I have to call my mom into the room, it’s like a different two worlds. So I don’t think you should underestimate the power of social media. It has helped us a lot, especially Facebook. People will find—we do—we don’t put ourself as rescue people, but occasionally we will be called on to rescue girls who are being abducted for marriage, and people will literally put it on Facebook that this is happening, and it has helped some girls a lot on that.

So I think the question goes back, again, to where we were with Anju. It’s really about where do you start and where do you—where do you go from there, and what do you need in the—along the way to get it there. I think it’s a question that Kakenya would not be able to answer alone. I think it’s going to really take a lot of people to come together and to shift the mindset of doing things the way we normally do, and really focus how do we—how do we change that narrative. Thank you.

VOGELSTEIN: Why don’t we come over here to one final question.

CRAVEN: Can I add on to that real quick?

VOGELSTEIN: Please, Sarah.

CRAVEN: Just to say also on the social media, I’m going to do a little plug for Kakenya. There’s a new video out called Keeping Up with Kakenya, which is going to come out every month, every two weeks. Every month?

NTAIYA: Every month.

CRAVEN: Every month. So—

NTAIYA: India (sp) is like—(laughs).

CRAVEN: So India (sp) here is part of that, telling the story. So certainly we have to use social media to do cultural/social change at the rural level, but whatever anyone in this room can do to help tell this story, because all of Kakenya’s efforts are done based on individual contributions, a few—a few foundations. So get that story out.

So there’s another great one that we like called A Mighty Girl, and we’ve never met the mighty girls. We don’t know who they are. And then suddenly one day there will be a post talking about Kakenya, and then within, you know, twenty-four hours, like, seven thousand people have contacted Kakenya. So it’s really when you can tell this story, social media helps broaden it and gets Kakenya the support she needs to then be able to support it on the ground.

VOGELSTEIN: Great potential.

One final question.

Q: Hi. Thank you very much. My name is Anne Griffin. I’m a new member of the board of Kakenya’s Dream, and my background is with international foundations over the last twenty years in Africa with a focus on education.

And I wanted to just ask more kind of a point of clarification and also just a way for you to talk about how things work and how they work so miraculously for Kakenya’s Dream, and in particular this notion of centers of excellence and the holistic approach that you’ve touched on here and there, but haven’t really gone into. And I just thought, one, I’m just curious more and more about how it is working; and, two, this different approach that I would imagine you have when compared to just, you know, a regular boarding school, and how important it is, of course, to differentiate yourself and to explain why it is working so well. And it relates to what Daniela (sp) was saying, too, about the—you know, the ripple effect, and what is happening on the ground, and what kind of networks are taking place.

So I was hoping that if—and as part of that explanation you could touch on your experience with schools. And you were saying you’re working with a number of schools now outside of your own, and how that is working, and what lessons you’ve learned, and some of those experiences that I think would help us to get a sense of how magical it is and, you know, how we can look to be supportive in the future for this approach.

NTAIYA: Thank you, Anne Marie (sp). That’s a setup question today. (Laughter.) Thank you so much for asking. And, Sarah, I would love for you to help me on the way—along the way. And I have a different team. All of them can speak.

I think, for us, the center is really the place. I talked earlier about we started as a day school and then we moved into a boarding school. And we take—we took thirty girls the first time, and after that it kept going up because each year we receive about two hundred and fifty girls applying to come to our school. We are not just a school that is just placed in a place; it’s a school that is really changing the perception of how girls are viewed in the community.

The boarding school is essential. It’s a place where it’s residential, so they live there. And most people are telling me, how would you take a ten-year-old away from their parents? But you realize that at that age, when they are nine, ten, it’s when the society’s starting to tell the girl that now you’re a big girl, behave well, stop playing, and they just start changing their mindset. So we come in and we change their mindset.

And the greatest exercise I like doing with the girls is that when they walk in, I tell them to draw their future. And literally, most of them are—they are drawing buildings. Some are drawing orphanages. Some are drawing being a lawyer. Some want to be doctors. And each one of them, the reason why they are choosing that is because of a relationship that has to be with something. So an orphan will always write—will draw an orphanage because she wants to be protected when she—when orphans are left at home, they become the workers at their home. So they are—they are really exploited.

So when we come to the school, we put those girls, we have good teachers. Our teachers, we vet them. In high school is where I’m having challenges of getting more teachers, but the primary school we have a lot of teachers from different parts of the country. They are not just from my home village. There are actually maybe two or three, but most of them are from outside. We train our—we retrain our teachers to know that they need to respect the girls. Our classroom is not a regular classroom where there are desks facing forward; it’s mostly tables to create collaborations with the girls and to also let the teacher know that it’s not about hierarchy of you up and the girls down. So we have different blackboards or whiteboards in different locations. So there is that shift, that it’s not just a normal classroom.

We ensure that the girls go through a training where I talked earlier about on leadership and health. We talk about, you know, you need to know your rights. So we are not just teaching math and English and all the other amazing subjects, but we are really creating that voice to be out so that the girls can be able to advocate for themself.

The new additions that we did in this year in the school is we’ve had—we have a library, the very first one in the community. That is not just helping our girls, but it’s also helping schools from (within ?). So, you know, that—you know, in these communities in America there are, like, libraries everywhere? I was really shocked when—my very first time is to go to a library and I was like, wow, you mean I can check them out for free and I can bring them back? There’s nothing like that in the community. So we do that.

We do field trips. Field trips are—you know, when we talk about field trips, maybe here it’s a concept that everybody knows, but we realized one thing is that all these kids are coming from their local villages. They have never been out, like out of anywhere. They’ve always been in the village. So one of the trips we do is to—(inaudible)—is like the lake and where there’s fishing for the very first time. The girls are like, oh, you mean you can eat fish? (Inaudible)—we don’t eat fish. So we’re really exposing them. We (field ?) them to go and see the national—you know, the Maasai Mara is one of the biggest—Maasai Mara, people don’t go there, you know? So we take our girls there and then learn from there. We take them to Nairobi. We take them to the parliament, where they meet women MPs. We really expose them, because at the end of the day it’s not just about learning in the classroom. It’s really learning from the outside.

And there are so many other things to do. Can you, Sarah, help me continue the chapter? (Laughter.) We do so much. It’s really not just a school. It’s really, I don’t know, a center where you get to be exposed to so much, because that’s the only way you can really open up the minds of the people. I think the Masasais say—and I think it’s a saying that everybody say—the eye that has gone out knows more, so that’s kind of what we do.

VOGELSTEIN: Sarah, a final word?

CRAVEN: I guess final word is that, I mean, Kakenya is quite known in the area not just for her school, but the schools around it. When it’s not term time, the health and leadership camps that you talked about actually brings students from other areas in the—in the community who can come and then have some of that experience that they might not be getting in their own schools, which is incredibly important.

We as a board, and certainly Kakenya, have learned a lot along the way because the first school is a hybrid with the government, and so there’s been a lot of learning—slow learning back and forth, and how much, you know—for example, the head teacher is someone who’s come through the Kenyan government, and she may have a very unique perspective. And so when this young Dr. Kakenya shows up with a lot of different ideas it was like, oh. So there’s been that kind of learning along the process.

I think there’s been great validation. There’s a Catholic school that’s been quite supportive of you that has come and—who has a headmaster who really sees what Kakenya’s doing and then amplifies it, and has given you a lot of support.

And I think, too, that when Kakenya gets a lot of global attention or when she’s seen, that trickles back to the village, too, and that gives her a lot more power in the sense that, for example, she as a woman can meet with the chief and bring up issues in a way that a woman probably couldn’t before. But there’s also, like, the challenge of that in that that can be threatening to the system as well. And so sometimes—or there’s beliefs sometimes within the community that Kakenya has—you know, she’s a millionaire or that she is magic.

NTAIYA: (Laughs.)

CRAVEN: You know, things like that that Kakenya has to balance.

Q: She’s not a millionaire?


CRAVEN: I don’t think so. (Laughter.)

VOGELSTEIN: Let’s see.

Q: She is a rock star.

CRAVEN: She is a rock star, which are usually millionaires in the same time, so. (Laughter.)

VOGELSTEIN: Not a millionaire, but a rock star. That’s a perfect place to conclude. Well, there is—

NTAIYA: Could I—can I say one thing before I—

VOGELSTEIN: Yes. Kakenya, one final word.

NTAIYA: Sorry.


NTAIYA: I think, you know, I am on the light, kind of people saying Kakenya doing all this magic. But trust me, I have an amazing team from my matron to the cook to the team that just works with me, India (sp) as well. I mean, I have all of them. And it’s really not about—I think what I keep telling people, it’s just people willing to support a dream and believe in me, and willing to bring their ideas out.

So I don’t have answers all the time, you know. I’m always like, what can you bring on the table? So if you know you’re really good at something that can help my girls, please talk to me and let’s work together. It’s going to take all of us. It’s going to take all of us to create a different—a better future for our children and our grandkids and all of the above.

VOGELSTEIN: Well, there is no doubt that a lot of work lies ahead, but also that the conversation today has really illuminated the path forward. So please join me in thanking Kakenya and Sarah for spending time with us today. (Applause.)


This is an uncorrected transcript.

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