Amref Health Africa Launches Initiative to Catalyze Youth Advocacy in Kenya

by Amref Health Africa

Amref Health Africa and the Advocacy Accelerator are pleased to announce a new initiative to increase capacity and support for youth to advocate for policy changes to advance gender equality and sexual and reproductive health and rights in Kenya. The two-year grant will enable the development of youth-focused, youth-designed materials and practices in policy advocacy.

The initiative is part of the commitment to support grassroots organizations and women’s movements announced by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation at the recent United Nations General Assembly #Goalkeepers17 event in New York, USA.

“Given our reach across all 47 counties in Kenya and our long-standing commitment to women and girls, this opportunity couldn’t have come at a better time,” said Dr Githinji Gitahi, Amref Health Africa’s Group CEO.

“By bringing in the expertise of the Advocacy Accelerator and leveraging the youth platforms Amref Health Africa launched at our last international conference, we now have the opportunity to support youth in creating a seismic shift in policies to advance women and girls.”

The initiative will use a blended approach of hands-on engagement and remote trainings through mobile technology designed for and by youth on the advocacy priorities they prioritize.

“Youth in Kenya are tech savvy and make up a large percentage of the 91 percent of mobile phone users,” said Wanjiku Kamau, Executive Director of the Advocacy Accelerator. “We are living in an information age where society is largely consuming digital information. Using mobile phones to reach the many young advocates across the country who have yet to be engaged will allow us to have an even greater impact than ever before in Kenya.”

Young people under the age of 35 are 70% of the Kenyan population. However, they face significant challenges in realizing their potential. Fifty five percent of youth between the ages of 18-35 are unemployed, with the highest rates (62%) among women. Adolescents, compared to adults, have higher risks of morbidity or death from pregnancy-related complications and infection with HIV and sexually transmitted infections. Despite the economic potential of Kenya’s growing youth population, one in three girls in Kenya gets married before her 18th birthday and nearly half of women become mothers by age 20. Unintended pregnancy is often the major cause for girls dropping out of formal education, negatively taking a toll on their families, community, and the country’s economic development.

The initiative aims to:

  • Map: Use mobile technology to identify, engage, and provide resources to youth advocacy organizations and networks across Kenya
  • Connect: Support development of a youth-led platform to link youth advocates
  • Strengthen: Facilitate a youth-led process of designing and implementing a dynamic mixed (in-person and remote) learning platform
  • Support: Provide resources and support to advocates in four Kenyan counties – in urban, rural, pastoral, and coastal regions – to promote youth-led advocacy with local decision-makers on gender and sexual and reproductive health and rights topics
  • Reach: Disseminate tools, resources, and support for advocates to strengthen their skills and impact across the African continent

Amref Health Africa is an international health development organisation founded and headquartered in Kenya. Its vision is lasting health change in Africa. Amref Health Africa was founded 60 years ago as the Flying Doctors of East Africa to provide critical medical assistance to remote communities in East Africa. Today, the organization works with the most vulnerable African communities through its country programmes and offices in Ethiopia, Kenya, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda, Malawi, Zambia, South Africa and Senegal. Through its laboratory, clinical outreach and training programmes, Amref Health Africa reaches over 35 countries in Africa. The organisation’s work is supported by 11 offices in North America and Europe.

The Advocacy Accelerator is a non-profit platform that seeks to build an interactive community of advocates in the Global South to foster engagement, learning and sharing of resources and experiences through in-person and online platforms. The platform is hosted by Amref Health Africa in Nairobi, Kenya. The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation is providing initial support to help establish the Advocacy Accelerator in East Africa and explore a potential future sight in West Africa. For more information visit, join Facebook and engage on Twitter.

This project is made possible through funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. For more information visit the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation website.

For more information on this project, please contact:
Betty Muriuki, Communications Manager, Corporate and Kenya: [email protected]
Evalin Karijo, Project Director, Youth Advocacy Project: [email protected]

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