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Rittah Akoth is an emerging leader from the Parklands Law Campus, Nairobi University. After attending an Akili Dada workshop for young women leaders she decided to run for student leadership in her school. Though she lost the election, she emerged a victor with key lessons in leadership.

My name is Rittah Akoth, and I’m a recent Law graduate from Kenyatta University.  I am a lover of life, happy soul and a constant learner. I strive to learn something new whenever I can, be it from school, social media or from the people around me. I am also inspired and motivated by other people’s stories, I believe everyone has a story to tell in life and you only get to hear that when you get a moment to interact with that person. It is for that reason that I try as much as I can to attend different forums and workshops, this way, I get to learn from different people and get inspired and motivated by their stories, stories of life. I cannot count the number of times I have applied for workshops and forums, on leadership because I have a soft spot for leadership. I once got invited for some African Union Conference in Lusaka, Zambia but I was not able to attend because of financial constraints. I tried too hard to make it work, I was even willing to go by bus but that would mean I miss like a week of school. I gave up on that but I kept applying for whatever caught my heart, mind and soul. The first workshop I ever attended was an Emerging Leadership Workshop organized by Akili Dada. This, I cannot forget. The deadline was on my birthday, which is the day I came across it and that is the same day I applied for it, on my birthday. I got a call a few days later from Akili Dada that I had been picked for the workshop. I was very excited.

We checked in to the hotel the workshop was to take place on a Tuesday evening. The workshop as the name suggests was for emerging young women who were planning to vie for student leadership roles in their respective universities. The whole workshop was well designed, of course my best part was listening to other people who had gone through vying for different posts and the challenges they had faced.  It was truly eye-opening, you felt ready to take that big risk because at least you would have known what to expect and what to do. For me, Minky Wanja, one of the invited speakers was truly an inspiration. Such a confident and well-spoken young woman. The kind of person who commands attention when she speaks, you just have to listen and be like “I can definitely do this too”. There is also something about young women who are ambitious and are already doing so much in their communities being put together in one room, the positive energy is real. You feel like you need to do more for others and yourself. Like you want to grow and break all the glass ceilings and go against all the societal stereotypes.

I vied for the School of Law Chairperson, something I decided on after the workshop. It was the highest position for my school, the school of Law being a satellite campus. Till then it was still School of Law Chairman and not chairperson. I had picked strategies from the people I had interacted with during the workshop had used and of course I was ready for the challenges, at least I had known of some challenges. Going against a contestant who had even vied for Member of County Assembly in 2013 was not easy.

Fortunately or unfortunately I never won the elections, I was the 2nd runners-up. But one thing for sure, I learnt and I grew. I tried. I lost nothing by trying. I have grown a thicker skin, I believe in myself more, I am proud of myself more. I learnt better that you lose nothing by trying. The Akili Dada Emerging Leaders Workshop gave me the reassurance that I can, being a woman should not be a hindrance, I met amazing people who believed in me, and off course I did believe in them too. My dream is to see a female chairman, as they call it, at Kenyatta University School of Law. A lady vying was not normal but I am happy young women learnt that it is possible and if possibly they can learn from any mistakes I made and come out as victors, it will be my joy.

I am also happy that most of the people we attended the workshop with me have made major strides with their lives with regards to leadership. Some won their university elections, some started community projects that are doing great and most of all, we are still a family and we update each other through a WhatsApp group we created after the workshop called ‘Akili Dada Sisters’.

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