I am Ashura Michael, a young deaf human rights and gender advocate from Kenya.
Participating in the Africa Liberal Network’s 2020 Women Leadership Programme is one of the greatest privileges of my life. As I prepare to enter the political arena in the next Kenya General Election 2022, the Africa Liberal Network’s Women Leadership Programme has equipped me with skills including resource mobilization and multimedia communications. My incredible mentor has supported me as I thought through a range of ideas for my campaign, from developing a campaign plan to assembling the right team. Equipped by the wonderful team at the Africa Liberal Network, my confidence as a woman in politics has grown tremendously. In the process, I have developed into a strong and mature leader.
The program has not only positively advanced my chances of launching into my dream career, it has also shaped my advocacy, ensuring that I have equal access to opportunities. I am now equipped to facilitate, support and empower other women to lead. Of course, this advocacy extends equally to persons with disabilities.
I was recently named one of 2020’s most influential young Kenyans in the category of Leadership and Governance, and as one of the top 15 Kenyan women trailblazing the corporate suite in 2020 (Law and Policy).
I hold a Bachelor of Arts in Gender and Development from University of Nairobi and am currently studying towards my Bachelor’s degree in Law at the same institution.
I hold the following additional qualifications:
- Diploma in Law;
- Certificate in Civil Leadership from the University of Illinois;
- Certified Political Leadership and Governance from the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung Foundation;
- Certificate in Advancing young women Agribusiness Entrepreneurs and Innovator from the Michigan State University.
I am also one of the succeeding participants of the Africa Liberal Network’s Women Leadership Programme 2020.
My experiences truly represent the ideal that every human has the right to live in an open opportunity society, where every person enjoys the same rights and has the same opportunities to fulfil their highest, truest expression of themselves.
I am a passionate advocate for the rights of persons with disabilities; thus, I complement my passion with studies in law, development and governance. But academic knowledge equally needs to be complemented by action.
I was a member of Young Voice, a Leonard Cheshire disability project to support young persons with disabilities through campaigning for disability rights and equal access. I have also been a co-chair for Youth Council of UNICEF’s Global Partnership on Children with Disabilities. I previously served as Secretary General of Kenya National Association of the Deaf, Youths Section. I have worked as a Gender and Social Inclusive Officer at Peace Ambassadors Integration Organization and a Special Interests Representative of Youths Synergy Kenya. I have been a Board Member of Positive Young Women Voice and served several national and international organizations.
Active campaigning has been a central part of my journey as a leader of the youth, working to realize the rights of youth, women and persons living with disabilities. I am the Founder and Director of Free a Girl’s World Network (FGW-N), an organization that aims to empower the girl child to explore her world freely without social-cultural and economic boundaries.
I am a Mandela Washington fellow 2016 alumni and I have travelled the world sharing and championing the rights of persons with disabilities, women and youth.
I have always felt the need to engage broadly with society, to speak out for the oppressed, to fight for those who can’t fight, and to represent not only the disabled in Kenya but everyone in my country. For this reason, I have also been actively engaged in my political party to make sure that persons with disabilities are not left behind in the political arena. I oversaw the 2016 formation of the Orange Disability League, as a supporting arm of my political party, the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM). I currently serve as an executive member of the League.
As Kenya’s official opposition, led by the former Kenya Prime Minister, The Right Honourable Raila Odinga, Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) is a full member of the Africa Liberal Network and a full member of Liberal International.
During the 2017 Kenya General Election, I campaigned for nomination to represent women in the Senate. Although I was not nominated., I appreciate the lessons and the exposure I gained from the experience. I continue to serve and represent women as a member of the Daughters of Raila, a collective network platform advocating for the inclusion of young women in particular, in the political leadership decisions of the party and in Kenya more broadly.
I serve as one of the directors on the board of the Kenya’s national council of persons with disabilities I also serve as the co-Chairperson of the Kenya Chapter of the Africa Charter on Democracy, Election and Governance, and the first elected deaf Speaker of the EALA Vijana Assembly.
As a continue my journey of leadership and growth, I am guided by the wise counsel of Mother Teresa that, “I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the water to create many ripples.”