Describing herself as a “servant leader,” or someone who leads from behind the scenes, Jackline is a Project Officer and Communication Officer for Women Challenged to Challenge, a Kenyan NGO dedicated to female empowerment. She spearheads a reproductive health project that targets young adults in special needs schools and manages a scholarship program that supports the education of girls with disabilities. Jackline also serves on the Ministry of Education’s Special Education Technical Committee, which conducts comprehensive evaluations of special education in Kenyan schools and reports to the President of Kenya.
Jackline is committed to confronting issues that involve the influence of gender-specific health needs upon access to inclusive education. She would like to use her ADA International Fellowship project to address barriers to education that young female adolescents with disabilities face due to insufficient access to sanitary towels (menstrual pads) and a broader lack of knowledge about female health and hygiene issues. Many communities in Kenya do not have appropriate resources or school health facilities that can ensure access to sanitary towels for all female students, including those with disabilities. In many cases, the girls in question, their families and members of the community have poor knowledge and sensitivity with regard to the importance of addressing gender-specific health needs. This leads to many girls being stigmatized, missing school days or being withdrawn from education altogether. Girls with disabilities are excluded in this manner to a disproportionately high extent.
Jackline proposes to use a multi-stakeholder approach for her project. She will reach out to girls with disabilities in school and those who are not in school, and will attempt to educate them by engaging the girls and their counterparts without disabilities in workshops on inclusive education, sensitivity to the needs of classmates with disabilities, and reproductive health. She will also leverage her professional experience and connections to engage and educate family members and teachers. Jackline will also mentor some of the youth who she intends to work with so that they will become champions for this cause and influence their peers as they attain maturity.