Engaged at age 5, Dr. Kakenya Ntaiya experienced female genital mutilation as a young teenager in preparation for marriage. Her life was set to follow the traditional path of ending school to become a wife and mother, but Kakenya had a different dream. She negotiated with her father to return to school after undergoing FGM. When she was accepted to college in the United States, she promised her community she would use her education to help the village in exchange for their support. Kakenya went to earn her PhD in education and returned to her community to fulfill her promise. 

Kakenya founded Kakenya’s Dream to educate girls, end harmful traditional practices, and uplift her community. In 2009, the Kakenya Center for Excellence boarding school opened doors, serving 30 students. Today, Dr. Kakenya Ntaiya reaches thousands of young girls and community members each year through the holistic, and girl-centered programs she pioneered at Kakenya’s Dream.

Kakenya is a proud CNN Hero Finalist and National Geographic Emerging Explorer. She was honored to receive the Feminist Majority Global Women’s Rights Award from the Feminist Majority Foundation in 2013 and the Vital Voices Global Leadership Award in 2008). was recognized by Women in the World as a “Woman of Impact,” and named a Top Ten CNN Hero. Kakenya was also named one of Newsweek Magazine’s “150 Women Who Shake the World” in 2011 and counted among the Women Deliver 100: The Most Inspiring People Delivering for Girls and Women.


Kakenya's TED Talk

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Kakenya with Michelle Obama


Vital Voices: The story of Kakenya


Dream With Kakenya


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