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The month of March every year is set aside to celebrate Women in some parts of the world. The United Nations International Women’s Day also falls on the 8th of March! This whole month is dedicated to celebrating women on their social, economic, cultural and political achievements. It offers an opportunity to reappraise the progress of women in various aspects and dynamics of society. It is also a good time to look around the world and address major challenges preventing women from pulling themselves up by the bootstrap. This year’s International Women’s Day celebration was themed around the pledge for parity.

In marking this important month, we at YouthhubAfrica are celebrating the following African women leading social change in their communities and Africa at large. We see them as inspirations and examples of what is possible when women rise above the limitations that society sets on their dreams. Join us to celebrate the YouthhubAfrica’s Formidable Women Leading Social Change in Africa 2016! #YoungWomenAfrica.

Rapelang Rabana

Rapelang Rabana, South Africa, 31, Founder and CEO of Rekindle Learning.

Dubbed the “Marissa Mayer of the Silicon Cape”, this South African entrepreneur and computer sciences graduate co-founded Yeigo, one of the world’s first mobile VoIP applications. Named one of Africa’s Best Young Entrepreneurs by Forbes Africa, she became a World Economic Forum Global Shaper, all before the age of 30. In 2013, she launched the online training and education company Rekindle Learning. She actively promotes the role of women in business as well as the potential of mobile technology to seed new business opportunities that provide much-needed jobs and crack socio-economic challenges. The Business Science, major in Computer Science graduate also sits on the board of Ubuntu Africa Healthcare. She tweets through @rapelangrabana

Aya Chebbi, Tunisia, 29, Blogger and Speaker, African Youth Movement. Aya Chebbi

Aya Chebbi is a young Tunisian blogger and speaker, women’s advocate and peace activist. She has worked on youth development projects at AIESEC, Y-Peer and the Danish Program Office in Tunisia, refugee camps on the Tunisian-Libyan borders during Libya’s civil war and elections monitoring at the Carter Center for 2012 presidential elections in Egypt. She was also Africa and Middle East Youth Coordinator at World Peace Initiative Foundation, an international organization that promotes peace worldwide, and Co-chair of the Youth Advisory Group of CIVICUS World Alliance for Citizen Participation.

Following Tunisia’s revolution, she has been speaking widely about social movements worldwide for conferences and rallies in United States, Canada, Poland, Turkey and Kenya among other countries. Aya received her degree in International Relations from the Higher Institute of Human Sciences of Tunis. In 2011, following her graduation, she was awarded the MENA Democracy Fellows Scholarship from the World Affairs Institute where she interned at US congressional offices and Hudson Institute Think Tank. In 2012, she was awarded the prestigious Fulbright Scholarship at Georgia Southern University.

Currently, she is the founding chair of the African Youth Movement, co-founder of the Voice of Women Initiative.

In recognition of her achievements, Aya was named one of Africa’s most Outstanding Young Women leaders in 2013 (Ghana), the Young Achiever of the Year 2015 (South Africa), and received the Excellence in Leadership award from the African Viewpoint Journal 2015. She is currently a Mo Ibrahim Scholar at School of Oriental and African Studies, university of London.

Aya considers her life’s mission uniting North Africa with the rest of the continent based on her pan-african vision and promoting youth agenda regionally and internationally.

She shares her thoughts on twitter through @aya_chebbi and blogs at http://aya-chebbi.blogspot.com.ng/

Agnes Mulewa Ng’anga, Kenya, 22, Chief Executive Officer of International Brand Solutions (IBS). Agnes Mulewa Ng'ang'a

At only 22 years of age, Agnes Mulewa has managed to beat life obstacles to become one of the youngest entrepreneurs and life changers in Kenya. Agnes Mulewa Ng’anga is the Chief executive officer of International Brand Solutions (IBS), a company worth over 6 million Kenyan Shillings (about US$60,000). It is a fast growing research market company with a uniqueness of rebranding existing brands to easily meet the market demand and the right audience.

Agnes, who is currently a fourth year studying for Bachelor’s degree in Business and Information Technology at Strathmore University, has started a girl empowerment programme to mentor those who want to get into business. “There is a gap in the society, because the current generation of girls is not well groomed for the future… My target audience in this journey is mainly women and girls in their discovery point of life. The same attention they give to beauty and fame should be given to education and advancing their professional career,” she said.

Jayoung Naphtalie MargaretJa Young Naphtalie Margaret, 23 Kenya.

Born in Tanzania to missionary parents, Ja Young Naphtalie Margaret is the co-convener of The National Youth Enterprise Development and Support Committee, Kenya. She is also the acting Chief Executive Officer of Bell Mount Registrars and runs a girls-empowerment scheme called the “Girls Power Clubs Africa”.

The Power Clubs provide basic needs like food and clothing for children that live in Nairobi’s slums through the Sadili Oval Sports Academy project. The group also offers life skill trainings to young people in schools in various communities. Margaret is also the co-convener of the Kenya Chambers of Commerce and and Industry.

She tweets at @NMJayoung

Lieutenant Ouma Laouali, 28 years, Niger. Ouma Laouali

When the story of Ouma broke, it created a sensation online and in mainstream media both in her native Niger Republic and across the African continent. 28 year-old Lieutenant Ouma Laouali broke Niger’s military glass ceiling when she became the first female pilot to serve in the country’s Armed Forces, flying the Cessna aircraft, a “combat caravan”, used for various military operations. Niger Air Force is part of the country’s Armed Forces. Ouma with this feat joins part of the over 12,000 military personnel battling insurgents in and outside the country.

Naomi Mwaura, 27 Years, Kenya, Founder of FLONE InitiativeNaomi Mwaura

Naomi Mwaura has over three years’ experience in various fields in the community development sector, with an emphasis in the prevention of sexual violence. She is the founding director of the Flone Initiative, through which she engages with men to stop sexual violence by leading strategic development, organizing events, and building social awareness. She is co-founder and director of Udada Festival Trust, an organization that showcases and celebrates women’s achievements in the arts where she is in charge of the business administration and finance. She holds a Bachelor of  Arts in Psychology (Honors) and is currently pursuing a Master’s in Business Administration from the United States International University in Nairobi, Kenya where she is undertaking research in sustainability strategies of non-governmental organizations in Kenya. Upon completion of the Fellowship, she plans to apply what she learns to further her work engaging men to prevent sexual violence and promoting women’s rights. Naomi is passionate about her campaign against Gender Based Violence.

She’s reachable via her organisation’s twitter handle – @FloNeInitiative

Ilwad Elman, 26 Years, Somalia, Activist. Ilwad Elman

Ilwad runs the Elman Peace and Human Rights Center (EPHRC) in Mogadishu with her mother, Fartun Adan who set it up in honour of her late husband, Elman Ali Ahmed, an ardent Somali peace activist who was assassinated in 1996.
As the director of programmes and development for EPHRC, Ilwad is
responsible for the organisation’s operations in South and Central Somalia, managing programmes aimed at the rehabilitation and reintegration of children involved in armed conflict. Programmes include vocational skills training, non-formal education and the provision of university grants.

Through a charity called Sister Somalia, Ilwad and her mother established the first rape crisis centre in Mogadishu during the height of the 2011 drought and subsequent famine emergency. The centre has helped over 2,000 women and girls rebuild their lives by providing emergency medical care, shelter, education and business start-up grants. Ilwad is also the co-chair of the Child Protection Working Group in Mogadishu.

She shares her thoughts on twitter through @IlwadElman

Irene Ikomu, 26 Years, Co-Founder Parliament Watch, Uganda. Irene Ikomu

Irene Ikomu has five years of experience working around  themes of governance and democracy in Uganda. She manages Parliament Watch Uganda, an initiative that monitors ongoing parliamentary processes and disseminates this information to the Ugandan public through various online platforms. She currently sits on USAID Uganda’s Democracy, Rights and Governance Advisory Board. In addition, Irene has been recognized as an outstanding young leader by the U.S. Embassy and selected to serve as a Generation Change Fellow representing youth perspectives at policy and political analysis dialogues. She has been behind diverse social change start-ups that have empowered young people in Uganda to become active citizens like the National Debate Council, Early Life Online Radio and the Green Light Movement. Irene holds a bachelor’s degree in Law from Makerere University. Upon completion of the Washington Fellowship, she plans on getting more young people engaged in the policy and legislative discussion, particularly targeting law students that will be future legislators and policy analysts.

She shares her thoughts on twitter through @miss_rizzy.

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