Kenyan rights activist wins Swedish award

Rachael Mwikali Mueni (right) and David Cidi Otieno, general secretary of Coalition for Grassroots Human Rights Defenders. Photo: Anna Kakuli/We Effect

Rachael Mwikali Mueni (right) and David Cidi Otieno, general secretary of Coalition for Grassroots Human Rights Defenders. Photo: Anna Kakuli/We Effect

A 24-year-old Kenyan grassroots activist Rachel Mwikali Mueni has been named Lobbyist for Change 2016 by a Swedish non-governmental organization for her fight for the human rights of young women.

“I am honored. This award strengthens our fight for equal rights for young women in urban areas, and the equal rights for Kenyan grassroots activist”, says Rachael Mwikali Mueni.

The Lobbyist for Change award was announced last year by We Effect. The prize is awarded to a lobbyist or activist working for the rights of people living in poverty.

The winner was selected by a jury consisting of, among others, former Prime Minister of Sweden, Ingvar Carlsson.

The motivation from the jury: “Rachael Mwikali Mueni is a glowing champion of women’s rights in a part of the world where those rights need strong support. She works with the poorest of the poor, mainly youths, in underprivileged urban settlements in Kenya and with practical solutions to practical problems. 

“Young women often don’t have so many opportunities in life and Rachael Mwikali Mueni is trying to change that, breaking old myths about women and showing that youths can be leaders of change and bring society forward.

“It is the aspiration of the jury that the award will have a real impact by encouraging and strengthening the work of Rachael Mwikali Mueni and Coalition for Grassroots Human Rights Defenders.”

Anneli Rogeman, chief executive officer of We Effect and chairman of the jury,  said “people living in poverty can and want to effect change. There is incredible power in their work towards influencing laws and society. This award is one way to highlight that work.”

Mueni was born and raised in the slum area of Mathare in Nairobi, where the situation for young women is very tough. Drugs, unemployment and domestic violent are common problems. Many girls do not finish primary school.

She has worked towards strengthening the rights of young women in several ways, practical as well as educational. She is the hub of a network of grass-root activists, Coalition for Grassroots Human Rights Defenders, which has taken action in a number of issues concerning social justice, one example being the restrictions imposed on civil society by the Kenyan government.

The award of $10 000 is provided by the Swedish PostCode Lottery and the sum goes to Rachael Mwikali Mueni’s organisation, Coalition for Grassroots Human Rights Defenders. 

 

Source: We Effect

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