Cathrine Khasoa (far right), Lead for Corporate Affairs at Optiven Group with Agnes Muthoni (second right) and Dave Odiwuor (second left). Both Agnes and Dave are alumni of SESP by Optiven Foundation. Looking on is Vincent Kinara (far right) a staff of the Optiven Group Foundation.

A late question at the donation of a 1 million shillings donation to the Soaring Eagles Scholarship Programme on 8th October 2021 was a catalytic addition to the barrage of questions to Daniel Kamau and George Wachiuri. Both Chief Executives at Fusion Capital and Optiven Group respectively, were at the tail end of their online media conference in an impact occasion that is set tp benefit students in high schools and sponsored by the Optiven Group Foundation.

The two partners were keen to point out that while the last 15 years focus has been on empowering the girl child it is welcome news to see that both boys and girls are having a 50/50 chance at education thanks to initiatives like SESP and partnerships from Fusion Capital.

A key rhetoric today as we celebrate the international day for the girl. This lays the stage to welcome developments in line with the international day for the girl child. In the case of SESP the name Agnes Muthoni comes to mind as she is a beneficiary of the Optiven Group Foundation program having completed her high school studies, now at the Cooperative University and also serving the Optiven Group Foundation.

Her story coincidentally aligns with the celebration this year where the world commemorates the Generation Equality Forum (GEF). This celebration will culminate with the launching of a 5-year commitment request from civil society leaders, governments, corporations and change makers from around the world for bold gender equality impacts.

At the same time, while the world is in the second year of the COVID-19 pandemic, the pandemic has accelerated digital platforms for learning, earning and connecting, while also highlighting girls’ diverse digital realities. The gender digital divide in connectivity, devices and use, skills and jobs is real.

It is an inequity and exclusion gap across geographies and generations that is our challenge to address if the digital revolution is to be for all, with all, by all. Let’s seize the momentum to drive action and accountability of GEF commitments made, for and with girls to achieve a bold vision of bridging the digital gender divide.

Girls know their digital realities and the solutions they need to excel on their diverse pathways as technologists for freedom of expression, joy, and boundless potential. Let’s amplify the diversity of these tech trailblazers while simultaneously widening the pathways so that every girl, this generation of girls – regardless of race, gender, language, ability, economic status and geographic origin – lives their full potential.

At Optiven Group Foundation, this is taking a turn for the better thanks to the George Wachiuri School of Mentorship. Through the school, over 200 young entrepreneurs are learning how to prepare for the business world through the lessons gained from entrepreneur and chairman of the Optiven Foundation, Mr. George Wachiuri.

It is here that case studies are analysed, rhetorical cases becoming business models and a final graduation gives an opportunity for peer to peer education and mentorship. This is in line with the International Day Of The Girl Child 2021theme which is this“Digital generation. Our generation”.

Like every year, the Optiven Group Foundation under it’s Education Pillar joins the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to celebrate International Day of the Girl Child 2021 reaffirming its pledge to promote the progress of girls and safeguard their rights.

As we celebrate the international day for the girl child, we look back in retrospect at 1995 at the World Conference on Women in Beijing countries unanimously adopted the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action – the most progressive blueprint ever for advancing the rights of not only women but girls.

The Beijing Declaration is the first to specifically call out girls’ rights. This was followed in December 19, 2011, when the United Nations General Assembly adopted Resolution 66/170 to declare October 11 as the International Day of the Girl Child, to recognize girls’ rights and the unique challenges girls face around the world.

So today the International Day of the Girl Child focuses attention on the need to address the challenges girls face and to promote girls’ empowerment and the fulfilment of their human rights.. Mary Wacuka a Trustee at the Optiven Group Foundation notes that a lot has changed in terms of provision of opportunities for girls in the last decade and now the boys are also being brought in.

But as we celebrate the girls today, it is imperative to note that the girls in this decade are breaking boundaries and barriers posed by stereotypes and exclusion, including those directed at children with disabilities and those living in marginalized communities. Cathrine Khasoa, who runs the GoGreen Initiative under the Optiven Foundation says, “this two year initiative has provided a new perspective for the girls and we where environmental sustainability is concerned we are seeing entrepreneurs, innovators and initiators of global movements.

These girls are creating a world that is relevant for them and future generations not just under the GoGreen Initiatives but in other avenues”. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by world leaders in 2015, embody a roadmap for progress that is sustainable and leaves no one behind – boys or girls not withstanding.

As the Optiven Group Foundation prepares to honor key players in the environment sustainability platform, Khasoa adds that, “achieving gender equality and women’s empowerment is integral to each of the 17 goals. Only by ensuring the rights of women and girls across all the goals will we get to justice and inclusion, economies that work for all, and sustaining our shared environment now and for future generations.

It is such developments that allow us to celebrate Vanita Halai of Vintz Plastics, Faith Ndung’u of GEEP Kenya, Khushi Singer of Nakuru and of course SESP alumni Agnes Muthoni. Khasoa says, “it is the empowering of women and girls as well as promoting gender equality is crucial to accelerating sustainable development. Ending all forms of discrimination against women and girls is not only a basic human right, but it also has a multiplier effect across all other development areas”.

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