First Lady Margaret Kenyatta and Melinda Gates last evening joined local and international theatre lovers where members of the Moth Global Community Programme presented incredibly powerful stories on empowerment.
The Moth Global Community Program- supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation of which Ms Melinda is co-chair - develops and elevates true personal stories from extraordinary individuals in the global south.
Through the personal experiences of its graduates, the Moth Program seeks to challenge dominant narratives, deepen connections and create a more productive dialogue around the world.
During the story presentations at the Kenya Cultural Centre, the highly articulate story-tellers drawn from several African countries including Kenya, Nigeria, Uganda and Tanzania recounted their personal experiences of courage, determination and resolve to overcome barriers of discrimination, retrogressive cultures, gender violence and cultural stereotypes.
All the narratives ultimately focus on gender equality and equity.
Faith Ekienabor-the first blind person to study Psychology in Nigeria gave a powerful story of resilience and her passion to give inspiration and hope to the blind community. She is a strong advocate of the rehabilitation and integration of persons living with disabilities.
Ms Memusi Sabulu, a form six student from the Maasai Community in northern Tanzania gave another powerful story on how she had been betrothed and her dowry paid while in primary school but ended up rejecting her suitor to pursue her dreams to become a doctor against the wishes of her father.
Rehema Nanfuka from Uganda presented a strong personal story of gender violence while youthful Bina Maseno recounted her experiences at the ballot box as she sought to be a Member of County Assembly (MCA) for Embakasi, Nairobi, where she had to struggle with hard to convince elderly voters and dismissive men during her campaigns.
ICT teacher James Ng'ang'a, the only male story teller during the Moth ceremony gave a personal story aimed at disabusing the stereo-typing among Kikuyu men that accepting financial assistance from women (including your partner) is a sign of weakness.
Congratulating the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for supporting the initiative, the First Lady said it provides girls and women a platform to reach out and share personal stories and reflections.
"Nothing creates a bond between people more quickly than shared experiences and shared human values", said the First Lady at the ceremony also graced by Cabinet Secretaries Cleopa Mailu (Health) and Sicily Kariuki of the Public Service, Youth and Gender Affairs Ministry.
She said the initiative allows the voices of girls and women to be amplified by shedding light on many urgent issues that they face in their daily lives.
"We will always require examples to emulate, stories to give us hope; stories full of courage and optimism that will inspire and encourage us to promote gender equality and women's empowerment", she added.
The First Lady underlined the need to support initiatives that speak up to illuminate situation that put the girls and women at risk like early marriages or those that promote exclusion and discrimination in their careers.
Ms Gates said no society can hope to achieve full transformation without the empowerment and participation of women.
The Moth Program is in its 20th year and has show-cased the stories in over 20 cities across the world. It is the first time the program is holding the ceremony in Nairobi.